Don’t Settle For The 9-5

The scariest future I can imagine is being stuck in a white-collar job. I have worked in a congressional district office, a large-corporate law firm, and for a commercial realtor. They were all equally terrible. I made decent money and felt like I was contributing to the work force, but each day was as miserable as the previous. I could literally feel the passion within draining hour by hour. I would prefer to work as a laborer on a construction site in Florida in the summer, than work a 9-5 in a corporate setting where you are essentially a slave to your employer.

The worst part about working a 9-5 is the morning commute. I am amazed at how miserable of an experience this is. The morning commute perfectly sums everything wrong with middle-management wage labor. Everyone is rushing because everyone is terrified of being late. Why are they terrified of being late? Because they are dreading arriving at their destination. They are rushing to get to a place they despise. Thus they sleep through their alarm or they fall back asleep, or they spend a few extra minutes with their children, or they drop their kids off at school because that’s the only time of the day they get to see them. You’re inevitably going to run behind schedule if you dread the schedule you’re following. This results in speeding, car crashes, and road rage. This also results in a skewed perception. Everyone else in the world is getting in your way. Of course you don’t actually think you’re the center of the universe but sitting in bumper-to bumper traffic, staring at the clock, terrified of being five minutes late, isn’t the time for being rational. You hate everyone around you.

Most people in the US work Monday through Friday from nine to five. Everyone is trying to arrive at the same place at the same time. So you spend the first bit of your day, at least five days a week, in gridlock, completely wasting your time. Sure you can listen to music, or a podcast, or an audiobook, but in reality most people don’t. You’re tired and you’re stressed and you’re trying to save what little energy you have to complete the mundane tasks of a soul-sucking job. I used to have this weird hazy feeling in the morning and whenever I would put on an interesting podcast I would find myself tuned out. I couldn’t pay attention. I would shift my focus between the clock on the dashboard and the stop and go traffic, simultaneously calculating my arrival time and trying to not cause an accident.

The worst part about the morning commute is watching your gas gauge slowly but consistently deflate. You’re literally wasting your money. You can do your job from home. You don’t need to drive to a lifeless office inhabited by lifeless people. In the technology age there is almost nothing that can’t be done from the comfort of your own home. Instead you spend an hour wasting gas to get to a place you don’t want to go, wasting money that could be used for hundreds of better alternatives.

This is how you begin five out of the seven days of the week. I realized this and I decided I wouldn’t do it anymore. I can’t. There are too many amazing things out there to waste your life doing something you hate. If you don’t have children or other obligations, I urge you to revaluate your life. Don’t settle for the next paycheck. Saying no to a regular paycheck is scary, I understand that, but everything worth anything in life is a little scary.