Have you ever dug your toes into the clumpy sand on the beach during, or right after a rainstorm? Or possibly tiptoed through the manicured grass of your backyard after an unexpected shower? Those feelings of freedom and vibrancy come from an uninhibited joy for life and the good things it has to offer. I know, because I have been fortunate enough to experience both of those very things, but sadly that is not the story I’m about to share.
There is a completely different experience that comes with being barefoot in the rain that is far less obscure. I never even knew it existed either, or what could possibly push someone to such rash, senseless behavior. Then it happened to me. It resulted from the direct opposite forces of freedom and vibrancy, a struggle brought about by the prolonged misery of a job that sucks the physical and mental life from your very being; a career vampire. I’ve recently dedicated a lot of time to understanding what would make someone suffer through a job they absolutely abhor. Believe it or not, there are several factors that can lead to this masochistic behavior, most of which lay outside the realm of the conscious awareness of those afflicted.
Sadly, I do not fit into the consciously unaware category, not so much even the unconsciously aware. Maybe there is truth to the statement “ignorance is bliss.” I know part of me wishes I was ignorant to the unintended and unavoidable side effects that come along with suffering silently through an existence that’s sole benefit is a fleeting euphoria. Much the way an alcoholic relishes their next drink to regain that lost buzz, or a drug addict dreams of their next dance with Mr. Brownstone, consequences be damned for both, does the unfulfilled worker show up day after day for a paycheck at the expense of their overall physical health and mental well being.
Despite what many of us may have been deluded into believing about going to college and getting a good job, there is so much more that has been left unspoken. What is a good job defined as? Why am I going to college? We are, and should remain masters of our own lives and destinies. No one knows what is best for anyone else, and to offer blind guidance is tantamount to nothing more than misrepresentation and propaganda.
If you have a passion, a desire, or anything that keeps you up at night for the best possible reasons – you have an obligation to yourself to follow those dreams. To do anything on the grounds of money alone when it comes to your career and future is nothing more than mental prostitution. When you don’t know any better, it is a harmless enough misstep. But there will come a time for most of us when the light bulb finally goes off and harmless quickly escalates to explosive; a firecracker becomes an atomic bomb. There is an underrated necessity in being true to yourself. It comes at a cost far higher than salary or material compensation could ever extract from you. We can only fool ourselves for but so long into believing we are somehow able to find a balance in the duality of our existence – what we do and who we are.
There can be no compromise or negotiation when it comes down to who we are, especially when what we do is in direct conflict with the essence of our being. When you wake up every day dreading the first third, or more, of it and only the prospect of your free time when you are finally allowed to be you drives you forward. When you find yourself asking “why” to almost everything you are asked, told, or encounter throughout the day. When the single biggest question you get from your friends and loved ones is “what’s wrong.” When you drink and forget instead of abstaining and remembering. When you experience any combination of these events on a daily basis, you are probably setting off on the path to being barefoot in the rain. Not the beautiful beach or plush greenery, but plodding along on the bare cracked pavement of a city sidewalk amid a late night rain shower for no other reason then to replace the pain you know and dread all too well with what seems like a new and refreshing suffering worth trying.