Happiness in a New Normal World

“It’s all good.”

Why does everyone keep saying that when I know good and damn well it isn’t all good? I remember when hippies used to say it in their tie-dye and drug-rugs, baked to the gills and it meant something different back then. It meant they were so high that nothing was going to bring them down. It was a Zen state back then. Now it has become the Diet Coke of my least favorite expression:

“It is what it is.”

I hate that expression. Fucking hate it. Why is that? Because two kinds of people use it.

  • Someone who has given up and resigned themselves to their fate of being miserable.
  • Someone who already has everything they want and they aren’t sharing.

Even though Dylan Thomas was a complete prick, he had one thing right.

“Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas

We waste so much of our lives saying things like we are “surviving” or “tomorrow I’ll do X” or just biding our time until the Big Black Car comes to pick us up one last time. Or waiting for things to improve. There isn’t tomorrow. There is only today, what we do right now. Whether it is laugh or cry or work our asses off, tomorrow does not come with a guarantee and for whatever reason even though we are living in times when people are dying all around us from an engineered cold, we still just keep grinding.

Why can’t we just be happy? Why don’t we just do whatever the hell fills our tanks?

Right now we are living in a time when people should realize that a big chunk of what we do can be done differently. People could work at home instead of fighting rush hour traffic. They could be comfortable. They don’t need some Overseer staring down at them in a cubicle maze. They don’t need to feel the stress and frustration of the day to know that they have earned their paycheck.

I did that shit for over twenty years. At the end of my job, my bloated waddling supervisor acted like I did nothing, and what I did was never good enough. My pay never changed, but they were happy to heap more responsibilities onto my list of duties. Things really got shaky when they wanted me to do training on some ridiculous LCD TV bulletin boards in the hallways. A university that was $10mil in debt every year decided we needed monitors in the halls to display things that were going on in the college. You know, like those corkboard thingies that had been there for 40 years did for free.

Not only did the refusal to pay me more for constantly updating that shit go against the standards I valued when I accepted the job, but blowing money on stupid shit while they were laying off 70+ people (myself included I would find out) seemed to go against any sort of logic.

So, I said, “No.”

The job was bullshit. So, on top of being exposed to asbestos, lead paint, no raises, inept leadership, gaslighting, watching administrators and faculty flaunt their wealth (and cry about it), I knew that place was just polishing brass on the titanic. Why did I stay?

It was a comfort zone.

“It is what it is.”

Right now, being self-employed scares the absolute shit out of me. I don’t know when my next paycheck is coming. I have to push myself every day to create content, to pitch, and then there is the frustration of knowing that almost nobody is going to respond. So, yes, I’m hemorraging money, trying to build something for myself. I’m taking advantage of this “New Normal” because working from home is suddenly on the table for a lot of us.

I hate that when I pitch an article to a magazine, or I query a venue to ask them if I can write about what they have going on, not only is there rejection, but more often than not (about 95% of it) there isn’t even a response. I can’t help but wonder what they hell they are doing over there at their job when they can’t even respond?

But you know what I hated more? Having someone drop a steaming pile of bullshit on my desk, tell me it’s all my fault, and then flounce off to go jabber about some show on TV or talk with the other mucky-mucks about their last trip to Thailand. Or complaining about how expensive something is when they make four times what I did.

So many of my friends (and believe me, it’s a decent number of them) are struggling right now and are absolutely miserable in their jobs. It’s the constant influx of bullshit they are dealing with. They aren’t respected. They are taken for granted. And because everyone has bills to pay, they don’t have a lot of choice on what else they can do. It’s the return of the Company Store.

Well, there is always a choice. I had a choice at UNC, but it offered stability in exchange for just suffering through asshattery. Along with the promise of hemorrhoids and ulcers and constant stess and stiff necks and weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart problems and knowing that you are a parent who has provided for others and kept them alive and somehow some fuck who couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with instructions written on the heel comes in and degrades you for not doing a good job were just a small price to pay for stability. Taking that every day or scaring the hell out of myself with doing something else was my “It is what it is” moment. Until they laid a bunch of us off and started paying new people half of what we were making.

We need to be better.

Our leaders are no longer leaders. They are nitwits living in positions of privilege. The metric of their leadership is putting their employees on blast and not even knowing what they do. Our “essential” employees are burning out. Most of them could quit and get a job at McDonalds for better pay. We are working for other people who aren’t even paying us enough for a decent funeral, which most of us will have to call in sick to have ourselves buried when the time comes.

But here’s the thing. My “job” right now doesn’t pay a lot. And sometimes I have to remind myself (and my family) that I’m not unemployed. I’m just not punching a clock and getting regular checks. But I am self-employed. And I am trying. And I am struggling–mostly with just finding a rhythm. And when everytime I turn around and somebody wants another $1000 and I watch my savings evaporate, yes, it would make sense to chuck this dream. But that’s a lot like running a marathon and getting to the halfway point and turning back because it’s so hard. You might as well keep running the race.

I have something right now that 20 years at a university NEVER gave me: Fulfillment.

If I’m going to have crippling and anxiety and fear, I might as well have it because of something I want to do, instead of being afraid someone is going to come around and fire me on a whim.

So, I might starve. But I might also get everything I ever wanted in life too. It’s all good.

Why can’t we be happy?

That’s just the thing. We can. Keep fighting. Keep striving. Keep going. Fuck the haters. Get out of your own way and fly.

You want happiness? Reach out and TAKE IT.