Friday, September 10, 2010

Matrix Philosophy

I've seen it a few times and it amazes me every time I see it. I've seen bloggers contemplate hanging up their quill and ink from the land of blogz for whatever reason. Perhaps they just don't have the time anymore. Perhaps they have accomplished their goal. Perhaps they have struggled too many times and are fighting their inner demons and choose to do it without making it a public spectacle. I've seen other bloggers, the die-hards, comment and harangue those thinking about calling it quits. Why?

I use to work at a financial institution doing financial planning for individuals looking to save for their retirement or to buy their dream house or to send their first born to college or to figure out how to get their first born off their couch so they could hop in the Winnebego and head for the greener grass, sure to stop for photo hour at the world's largest ball of twine.

There was a culture at that institution, or at least in the office I worked out of that was seemingly designed to make anyone who decided the career or the company or the culture wasn't a good fit for them feel like a failure or worse yet, a quitter. I saw advisors, some very smart and driven people cower under the pressure. I saw people with great potential choose to stay somewhere working 100+ hours per week making no more than $25,000 or $30,000 per year because they couldn't stand the idea that they might be labeled as a quitter or a failure if they chose to leave.

I'll admit it. I drank the coolaide for a while. Then one day, I woke up. I had a sense of clarity wash over me, much like the scene from The Matrix where Neo had to choose the red pill or the blue one. I took the pill and finally saw the world for what it really was. I did the math. At 100 hours per week, $30,000 per year works out to be about $5.77 per hour and that's without any time off. Was I willing to work for less than minimum wage? And was I willing to sacrifice my personal time for a job that made me feel like a failure if I wasn't willing to work for less than minimum wage? Is that what I spent 11 years getting an advanced degree for? Absolutely not. Then why did I sit there for one year voluntarily sipping the juice?

One word: PRIDE

People who choose to leave bloggerville are no more quitters or failures than I was in leaving the toxic work environment I found myself in. We all have to evaluate our lives, our families, our friendships, our work, and yes, our hobbies every now and again. We will all come to different conclusions about what is right for us at whatever point we are in our lives. Working where I did served a purpose in my life at the time. Leaving it behind allowed me to learn from it and use that knowledge to grow as a human being and as a professional.

Pride is a powerful thing. It can challenge us to stand up for ourselves. It can build us up if we feel deflated. It can also knock us down and hold us there if we let it. It can control us if we allow it to become too powerful. The beauty of it is that we all have the freedom to decide for ourselves what is too much and what is not enough and choose our actions accordingly. It was not for my superiors or my coworkers at the financial institution to decide the limits of my pride or how I should interpret them. And it's not up to anyone else to project their own ideas of success or failure onto those bloggers who may be choosing to reevaluate their hobbies.

Facing the truths of who we are and what we want can be a very scary thing to do. Choosing to take actions to correct our mistakes or realign our lives to the path we desire can be even scarier.

It takes courage.

How much courage do you have?