You’re 25 years old (maybe 30, maybe 40?), sailing through life in a fast-paced Gig-Economy, paying the rent and utilities, mostly eating out on the run, doing a fair amount of social media, streaming Netflix, playing video games, and, generally, looking forward to more of the same as you move UP in the world. Life is good!
Then a pandemic hits. You’re a Gig-Worker. You have no safety nets. No savings. No health insurance. No unemployment insurance. And no viable prospects. THIS part of life is NOT good!
Jim Rohn used to ask: “Who sold you on that plan?”
But it’s not your fault!
Odds are that nobody actually ever TOLD you what to expect. Nobody actually TOLD you what the demands of navigation would be like as a “Seasoned Adult”. Nobody actually TOLD you how much responsibility you would have to take on in order to assure your own sustainable wellbeing. And nobody actually TOLD you how soberingly challenging it would be.
People said you were “Special”. In primary and secondary education, they kept advancing you to higher grades every year just for showing up. You put on your Superman underwear and conquered all sorts of imaginary “bad guys”. You wore your Jedi Knight T-shirt and ruled a totally virtual universe.
And people smiled and nodded and clapped!
And they gave you an official certification of matriculation
when you graduated.
My personal certificate of matriculation states the following:
“[LAK] … is now admitted to that degree
with all the rights, privileges and immunities
thereunto appertaining … “
Moreover, as is invariably underscored during political campaigns, the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America guarantees your free and unimpinged matriculation through life:
“ … all men are created equal … they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights …
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
… even, or most especially, some are quick to claim, to the extent of resisting the “over-reach” of government officials who may be inclined to restrict individual freedoms that impinge on the welfare and “unalienable rights” of others.
This is where things start coming unglued.
In a civilization worthy of our full participation, certain expectations apply. We can’t “cherry pick” our way around all the responsibilities required to afford all the freedoms, privileges and entitlements we’d like to claim. In fact, the “freedoms” are only as broad as the “responsibilities” are wide.
I’m almost certain nobody ever told you that, because they never told ME that! It’s not in the Bill of Rights (only “Rights” are in the Bill of Rights!), and it’s not in the Constitution. That’s a terrible oversight and needs to be fixed!
Interestingly, as much as you have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,
you ALSO have the right to royally screw up your life.
But nobody is beholden to rescue you.
And there is no indemnification clause holding you harmless.
Here are some other things most of us were never told:
- Not everybody deserves a “Second Chance”. A Second Chance opportunity depends on what you did with the FIRST one. Opportunities come and go, and the best of them never come back. They don’t sit around waiting for you to “get your act together”.
- Competition is the name of the game. And people with funny names from far away places who don’t even look like you … who are hungrier for opportunity and anxious to enjoy the same privileges you take for granted … are going to run circles around you every chance they get. This is probably why so many “natural born American citizens” detest immigration – never mind that natural born American citizens should be so much better positioned to compete on their “home turf” than any “outsiders”. Yes, “outsiders” are ruthlessly driven … because they know the odds are long … and they have nothing to lose … and they have nowhere to go but UP … and they come quickly to understand that THEIR entitlements have to be EARNED. Capitalistic enterprises value EARNINGS. And they pay DIVIDENDS!
- Your “ship” is not just sitting “out there” waiting to come in. And no prince or princess is going to come riding by on a white horse to carry you off to happily ever after. Life is pretty much a Do-It-Yourself project. Win or lose.
- Life – at least in the fashion to which you would like to become accustomed to living it – includes a tremendous overhead obligation. This takes many forms, but includes TAXATION, VOLUNTEERISM and GIVING SOMETHING BACK. Each of us has to contribute to the COMMON GOOD. The infrastructure for living well is high, wide and deep. Over time, accommodation of these needs has been built into your paycheck. Your salary and wages were never intended to be ALL YOURS, and the “gummint” is not “stealing” from you when they withhold money to help cover both the common good, your future wellbeing and critical safety nets. NOTE: The fight of your forefathers at the Boston Tea Party was not really about taxes, it was about REPRESENTATION. Your vote gives you that privilege. When you vote, vote for a sustainable, equal opportunity-driven civilization. Living just for the moment and just for yourself is not now, and never has been, a winning formula.
- We also have numerous “Tribal Customs” to be taken into account, such as: Not sending our infirm out on icebergs, “Paying it Forward”, looking after the disenfranchised, and being altruistically benevolent.
- A minimum wage job – or even two – will not support a family of four in any sustainable way.
“Help! I’ve been trying to look for another job, as fast food just don’t cut it.”
Between the ages of 18 and 40, one should continuously gain enough skills, education and experience to become competitive for promotions every 3-6 years. That won’t happen without total intentional effort.
“I figure if you want to win, you have to be a little uncomfortable.”
Here it is in a nutshell:
“Everything you deserve is going to take everything you’ve got.”
“Do what you’re supposed to do, and life will turn out the way it’s supposed to be.”
Inscription on an old Farmhouse Calendar
There is much more to consider that you have not been told.* But these are helpful starters.
No, it’s not your fault that you didn’t know some or all of the above. But I think it’s way past time for somebody to take “Nobody ever told me that!” off the table. Here it is. Quartermaster
*[A much more detailed rendering is included in the book “Hard Truths” from ERTIA UNLIMITED, currently available only in electronic form by special request.]