Blending In

Competition. Even as babies, we’re compared to others–who walked first, whose first word was bigger. From the moment we pop into this world we’re tossed into a society that’s bent on forcing competition down its member’s throats. 
We get older, it gets worse. First, it’s grades. A ‘C’ is considered ‘average,’ yet god forbid anyone earns just average marks. Average is just not good enough. Even ‘above average’ won’t get you too far. In my high school, there were thirty people with a straight ‘A’ average. Still, the system managed to break their accomplishments down into an ordered list of best to worst. How that can even be possible? Ranking perfect scores so just one person gets to be ‘the smartest,’ is beyond me. 
Then comes college. In this day, you have to go in order to be considered worthwhile by society. “What college are you going to?” is the favored question of aunts and uncles everywhere. Nosy neighbors inquire about your plans after school, and if you dare to speak the unspeakable, “I’m not going to college,” they either shake their heads and moan about what a mistake you’re making, or they subject you to a twenty-minute lecture about, “Getting ahead in this world.”
Has anyone stopped to think just how fucking stupid it all is? To push yourself beyond the limits of desire or ability in order to get that extra ten, twenty, or thirty thousand dollars a year? What, exactly will that get you? A bigger house? Better car? Nicer clothes? More attractive spouse? The keys to the door hiding the secrets of the universe?
And, we’re right back to that phenomena we were subjected to in infancy; sorting out who among the throngs of people out there is the very best. 
Society never stops to think some of us aren’t ready to be its bitch. Maybe we never will be. I can’t think of a fate worse than having to wear high heels and a tan business suit. I can’t imagine sitting in front of a computer hitting keys all day while my view of this world I’m supposed to be living in is blocked by a five-foot wall of partitioned blandness. I can’t stomach the idea of playing nice with people I loathe in order to get ahead, whoring myself out spiritually (or even physically) so I can get just that much closer to the slightly bigger cubicle in the slightly more prestigious corner of the office. 
Because of my aversion to the corporate/consumer/drone lifestyle, I am one of society’s fallen children. I have been ‘left behind.’ I am to be pitied, or maybe scorned–which is mostly all right, since I pity and scorn them. The problem is, it’s several hundred million to one. The pressure comes from all sides; parents, government, do-gooders. They want me to join them–as if becoming part of the collective will somehow validate their own submission. They can’t just leave me alone; they have to preach the gospel of ‘responsible adulthood.’ They have to convert me in order to save themselves. 
Another log for the fire.
I’m finding out as I get older, some of my friends are collapsing under the pressure. Ricketts just caved a few months ago. He shaved off the remains of his mohawk, rolled down the sleeves of his white, button-up shirt so his ink wouldn’t show, and applied for a job as a customer service representative. The lure of money, the siren song of things, pulled him in, made him want to be one of them. Now he has a car of his own, an apartment of his own, and is buried by more debt than he can possibly climb out from under when making only thirty grand a year. But, he’s got a girl and they’re getting serious. He has to show he’s a good provider. A man’s man. 
More than a C-average. 
I understand there has to be some sort of compromise. Money is needed to survive. We can’t just take a sling out into the forest and come back with dinner. Our hunt is the job. Our kill is our paycheck. 
But, do we have to lose so much of who we are in order to get it?
I’ll soon be twenty-three.  Mom keeps saying, “Resonance, you can’t fight your future forever.”  But, I think I can. Fighting is what I’ve been doing my entire life.  No reason to change that, now.

About Avery

I am a roller derbying, dark fantasy author. This blog chronicles my adventures in life, writing and skating. View all posts by Avery

8 responses to “Blending In

  • AvDB

    Avery, here: Ugh! I've been so bad in keeping up with the comments. I'm sorry, guys. Res isn't so good with the following-through–don't tell her I said that. So, this time, I'll field these comments, however shamefully belatedly.Writtenwyrdd — I know a few post-grad workers who are buried by hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'll take "fuck the mainstream" over that, any day. Obviously, Resonance agrees wholeheartedly.Lana — I think that acceptance of lower cash flow for higher happiness is something that comes with age and experience. I know I'm much happier now than I ever was with more money. Not that it wouldn't be nice to have both, but I understand the benefits of the sacrifice more than I did when I was younger.Eric — My new hairstylist was an art major. Right now, art–in most forms–is wholly undervalued in society. Those who appreciate and study it are doomed to couch surfing and unwelcome alternate job choices. Maybe some day, writers and painters can do what they love, without having to worry about starving to death.All you've got is a red guitar, three chords, and the truth…

  • eric1313

    But hey, I'm here. I write. I have my guitar. Life is somewhat peachy when I don't think about it too much.

  • eric1313

    I feel the same way about it. But it hasn't gotten me anywhere. Really, I'm kind of nowhere, doing laundry in the middle of the night (whilst blogging), living with a friend who is being uber kind enough to let me pay rent by taking care of her house and picking up after her kids as I court my love slowly (ever so slowly… but hey, can't rush things no matter how late it seems.)Sad thing is I went to college! It's just not enough to be an English major. If I wanted a "normal" life, I should have learned to cook up toxic assets instead of the occasional decent line.

  • Lana Gramlich

    I asked myself some of these questions a while back, when I was overworked & underpaid at a place with baaaaaaad morale all around. Now I work part time (although my visual art biz is still full time.) I don't have the same kind of cash I used to, but I have peace, time and sanity, which you can't buy for a billion dollars.

  • writtenwyrdd

    The sense that a college degree gets you anywhere is so false. You end up thousands in debt and have to take an entry level job that has such low wages you can't live and also pay the huge debt off. Even people who get degrees for high paying jobs have this conundrum to face!I wanted to go to college, but when I started (1979) it wasn't an expectation that everyone should or could go. There were plenty of jobs for people with high school degrees or no diploma at all. Jobs that could support a family, too.I have speculated that the "slacker" trend is that of young people who don't want to buy into the droneville existence of mainstream society, and I can't blame them. But, if you want to have security for a family, retirement, or whatever, it's pretty difficult to do so without caving to the mainstream.

  • AvDB

    RES, here:Charles — "Banks of a river." I like that. It's kind of like one of those canals, too. Forward, forward, always forward, only going up or down when the guys pushing the buttons allow it.G — I've got my friends. I'm somebody with them. But, yeah, I don't get paid for dealing with their issues–though I should, sometimes.

  • G

    Touche'.Sometimes though being a somebody in a very small thing is often the best way to survive everything else that brings you pleasure and satisfaction (but no renumeration to speak of).

  • Charles Gramlich

    It's hard enough to learn what you do want, much less what you don't want. And the world channels us like the banks of a river channel the water.

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