Like a virus, it infests our youth. Shielded from the public and almost invisible, it’s basically everywhere you look: Career pressure.
Especially young students seem to feel it enormous. Working through the weekend became a normality. The time not being available for family and hobbies isn’t worth mentioning. To live for the job or university has been established as common or even prestigious.
Show performance. Keep up. Being better. The baton of our generation. Like books and parties, mental illnesses now belong to the average students’ daily life. Anti-depressants are consumed like harmless cough candy during exams and fear constantly smiles from the table next to you.
Pursuing a career – At what price?
With the dream of a big career in sight, we navigate through school and working life just like a donkey having a carrot hanging in front of his snout. We say “someday, all stress will be gone. I will earn my money and everything will be alright.” Therefore, the illusion of many is that they can continue like that forever. Incautious victims stumble into working life after just having stood at graduation, being sure that “what worked until now will work just fine”. They throw the good resolutions for a life without stress overboard and unpack the boxing gloves for the daily struggle of power. Soon the individual realizes that it is not comfortable with the fight over the next step of the career ladder.
Doubt arises, whether the path they pursued is the right one. Soon, the old behaviour patterns are back again. While psyche reports back, the dusty anti-depressants are looking compelling from the medicine cabinet and fear is standing at the front door, about to move back in again.
Restricted by the hamster wheel
Is the notion of career a construct to keep us in the rat race? Certainly, it looks like it. At least it seems to lead young people into developing competitiveness early on. To put the own advantage into the core of daily action becomes an omnipresent norm. Has someone reached the point of no return in his job, it’s difficult to escape the mill. Whether many recognize themselves in the mirror then is questionable.
Nowadays, the concept of career resonates a clear reference to work. As soon someone meets new people, one of the first questions is “And what do you do?” in respect to the exerted job. Rarely, we hear people talk about a “career as a dad” or “career as a cleaner”. After all, these are no careers, they say.
A social rethinking of career is necessary
We need to distance ourselves from the notion of career to move towards the personal ambition in the life of humans. In short, we need less of “next year I’ll be head of department” and more of “next year I want to have enough time with my family” or “next year, I’ll write a book”.
I mean, what’s the purpose of having a career and a prestigious job without having your loved ones supporting you? Why should someone put his time consuming working life in the first place behind the people and passions he loves so much?
Somewhere in the depths of consciousness, many realize that they had been living in a matrix. A prison for the mind which lets them drown in the routine of daily life to distract from the important things.
The cautious have the choice to decide between the red and the blue pill. Red means everything is staying the same – work, small amount of leisure time, stress. Blue brings salvation from daily struggles, more time for family, friends and passions. Which one would you take?
What’s left to say
Career may show us one of the possible paths. Nevertheless, the individual should always remember, that it’s not the only one to take to be happy in the end. Deep in the heart, truth lies. Knowing that you don’t need to define yourself over a career is crucial. Actually, you don’t have to define yourself at all. Definitions are forever changeable, and so are we.
Feature image by Craig Adderley from Pexels.