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I expect most people to react to a video like this with derision, but not me – I think it says a lot about expectations, efficiency, and more than anything, sex.
I can hear the boomers seething now that a young person would dare complain about all of their waking hours spent away from the places and things they would prefer.
I can even hear younger generations echoing them, because the first response to a complaint is to make a comparison – to think how much better that person has it than you, and you never complained. I don’t think that’s Christ’s way, and I don’t think it’s healthy for the self.
The truth is, the girl’s example is common and isn’t the result of some spoiled, soft upbringing. The real world is always harsher than childhood if you have parents that loved you.
First, the perspective of a “new” worker in the economy is one where expectations are very far from the narrative that that worker was presented for adulthood while she was a teenager or in college. Millennials know this tune well – go to school, get a degree, get a job, be successful. When the reality is that you do that, but your job pays nothing, so you can’t afford to live anywhere nice, you have to commute, you begin ass-backward in student debt, etc.
This is heightened when you start to realize that your job isn’t moving you toward any goals you might have had for your life – marriage, family, property, free time, etc.
There is a vast gulf between the expectation and the reality, enough to drive a young person to despair.
Efficiency is the next thing.
Most people don’t like commutes, but they don’t have to be miserable. I once had a rather long commute of about 45 minutes, but I found ways to make use of that time. For one year, I commuted with my best friend, and we recorded a podcast every day and had an hour of male council, which is important when you are goal-oriented. I didn’t feel like my commute was wasted time because I was working on my goals.
It was a long job some days, too, since I was a band director. Some nights, I wouldn’t get home until after midnight because of my obligations. But I found ways to progress my goals. I worked through my lunch break. I wrote during meetings. In any time gaps, I filled them by working on my goals. I was relentless.
I was also compensated well for my time, and that goes a long way toward making you feel like your time is not evaporating into the abyss. If your job isn’t paying well and your commute is just a time suck, a 9-5 that is really a 7:30 to 6:30 since that is your actual occupied time will feel like a horrible grind. I put what I wanted into all the empty spaces; if you can’t do that, it’s demoralizing to get home at 6:30 because you feel like you have accomplished nothing.
The last thing that the video reveals to me is the wide gulf between the sexes.
Most women are not goal-driven the way men are. Some are, but most operate on a different wavelength, desiring different outcomes than men do. That young woman mentions off-hand about how it would be impossible to find a guy with no free time, and that says something profound. Men need goals to get a mate; women need a mate to reach their goals. In a better time, more women would have the option and full cultural support of getting married young and beginning a family.
It’s tragic that we force young women through the hoops of male careers, which so often make them miserable because some previous generations thought it would be nice if everyone were equal, which means women doing backbreaking grinds instead of the things that bring them real fulfillment, like having children. Relationships between the sexes are now dysfunctional and this little video is part of that.
Flip the sex of the girl in the video, and we would see even more derision; men are expected to suck it up and get on with it. They are expected to silently die rather than complain. If it was a young man, the 11-hour 9-5 would be invisible. He shows up, goes home, plays a game while drinking a protein shake, and goes to sleep. That man would mind the 11 hours a lot less if he were married – if the work were directed toward something productive and meaningful. Imagine getting home to a hot dinner. It’s amazing what that can do to a person’s attitude.
Complaining is cheap, though. Let’s talk solutions since I’ve been in the grind and know many of you are as well.
The proper expectation is that a job is an employment opportunity with specific responsibilities, obligations, and compensation. I find it funny that people talk about “quiet quitting” as doing the bare minimum. Young people are gaslit; doing what is required of your job and not more is called employment. That should be your baseline. This stuff was a joke in Office Space 20 years ago, but somehow, young people got convinced they would advance (to what, I wonder?) by doing unpaid overtime.
So, set boundaries to work. You work during the hours you are paid, not after. No hopping on your computer to do paperwork at home. Ideally, don’t even answer emails. If you catch shit, just say you didn’t have your phone with you or fell asleep early. Leave when time is up. Work on your own goals during lunch.
Make your commute a useful time. Listen to audiobooks or an informative podcast. Listen to lectures on your subject expertise. Make that a leisure activity in the classical sense. Play a game on the train. A one-hour commute should be one hour of goal-building or media consumption.
You can also make calls. Call family and friends. Record your thoughts (or do what I did and record a podcast). The point is to make your time spent in transit feel important and useful rather than time effectively given to your job for free.
Last, know yourself and your real goals. A whole generation of women was ruined by Sex in the City by thinking they could 1) afford to live in the city, 2) get fulfillment from an exciting high-status career, 3) get fulfillment from sexual exploration and promiscuity. The reality kicked them in the teeth. It sucks to be a 45-year-old woman who just wanted a family but ended up with a career and cats.
So don’t fall into that trap. Think about what you really want your life to be, then make choices that at least point in that general direction. For lots of women, that means not pursuing a 9-5 career but instead finding a husband who has a solid career. Easier said than done, for sure, but at least you won’t be grinding yourself into wrinkled misery in the meantime.
For men, that means discarding the narrative that you’ll magically find security and companionship because of your college degree and setting up life within the limitations you find yourself bound in by. I think a lot of men are already onto this (we tend to pursue solutions rather than just complain, hoping for sympathy and help), and the result is something almost perverse to women: the apartment filled only with a bed and a gaming PC. That was how I lived for years (plus a pile of guitars and amps); somehow, I still got married.
Reality is harsh, and our society is now set up to keep men and women apart, at least in the deep, spiritual sense. That’s beyond the scope of the article, but it’s very hard now for men and women to make offers of exchange to each other. But knowing what you want will at least keep you from flushing time down the toilet trying to do what someone told you would make you happy.
I’m an independent author and musician. For more tips on time management, mindset, and how to organize your life for creative productivity, check out my book The Keys to Prolific Creativity.
If you want a deeper look at the conditions of our society that have affected my generation as well as those younger than us, read my literature book, Afterglow: Generation Y.