View Full Version : The burden of so-called principles

April 10th, 2011, 12:54 AM
I've been in and out of university since I was 18. I've attended five universities and studied architecture, international studies, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, and various tracks in creative writing. I never finish these tracks to the point of actually getting a degree, because they require me to take classes of science, humanities, and mathematics in order to become well-rounded, even though I studied these general subjects in high school. It's my belief that being forced to take these courses in order to obtain a bachelor's degree is just another way for the university to take huge amounts of money from you. It's not to say that one shouldn't have a general grasp of these subjects, especially being able to write coherently. I just don't think I should have to know the basic applications of biology or astronomy if I have every intention of pursuing a creative writing degree.

So, I've formed a rather stone-faced principle when it comes to higher education. The last time I attended university (2009) was to really try to get a degree, because without it I'm pretty much stuck working near-minimum wage jobs. And we all know how exciting those can be.... I almost made it through one whole semester, because I stacked my schedule with classes I wanted to take. However, even then, I didn't attend two of the final examinations (I was earning top marks until then), because it occurred to me that I didn't really have to prove to anyone whether or not I could regurgitate what I had learned. I know what I had learned, and that was fine with me. And so I received two incomplete qualifications.

I will most likely never earn a degree. If I do go back to university, it will be for the purposes of learning what I want to learn - be it a new language, or medieval literature, or whatnot. However, this doctrine I've applied to my higher learning habits has crept into the pursuit and ingratiation of all the part-time jobs I've ever had.

I simply can't hold a job. I wouldn't consider myself a flaky person. Nor do I think that I look down my nose at the jobs of which I do wind up working. I'm there to make money, not to be employee of the month. It's just that because I've ingrained in myself the do-or-die attitude of becoming a writer (one who gets paid), everything else is trivial to me. I drift from job to job, earning enough money to eat. My last job, which lasted all of four days, was picking apples. It wasn't bad, because I like working outdoors. It was only when I started to be heckled about the quality of the apples I was picking (not red enough, or too much russet), and at the same time being told to pick up my pace - because I was only filling two bins a day - that was when I began to calculate how long I could survive if I were to quit right there on the spot. Because I'm a foreigner here, living on the dole doesn't give me an out if I needed it. By midway through the fourth day of this job, I had made up my mind to quit. Working at a (bad?) job gives me just as much inspiration to write as not working at all. I am just weighed down with the choice between two evils: earning money at a job I don't want to be working while living in relative comfort and having food on my table or having more free time (and inspiration?) to write while sleeping in my car and developing a stronger aversion towards peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

Do these self-inflicted principles make any sense to anyone or are they just products of masochism or some kind of anti-social psychological disorder?

I'd like to think that I can function like the average person, but when I see that same average person bearing and grunting through the hierarchal burden we've created, (the omnipresent social pressure to 'find one's place' in the world) well I begin to second guess my motives for even wanting to participate in the same social theater.

April 11th, 2011, 08:52 AM
Sounds like you want to break free from the system. Sadly, money makes the world go round and we've all got to find a way to make it. Unless you're lucky enough to have rich parents. I literally know a guy, name's Brian, whose Dad is an American brain surgeon, and who has never worked a day in his life. Suckled off Daddy's money his whole life. Dad even bought him a house. Met him through working in the fishing guide industry which caters to rich people with too much free time.

Anyway, my point is that unless you're rich, you gotta make money somehow. Maybe it's a matter of playing to your strengths and seeking out a more independent form on employment. Or maybe you need to buckle down a bit and learn how to work with all kinds of people, accept personalities you're not used to. Who knows. Just musing out loud here. :grin:

April 11th, 2011, 10:35 PM
Admittedly, I would like to see a change to 'the system.' However, that isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

I really don't want to have that kind of lifestyle, having my parents or someone else pay for the luxury in my life. I want to earn that luxury, but if you've ever read books like "Nickel and Dimed," you might draw the conclusion that working hard for such luxuries might simply not be enough.

I was also musing out lout, or complaining, or ranting. One of those. I don't know how to work with a lot of people, especially those kind who think in terms of chutes and ladders when it comes to work. It also makes me cringe when someone starts a sentence with "I deserve."

April 12th, 2011, 06:10 AM
I can’t say as I understand your situation, I’ve been working since I was six. Work is all I know. Sometimes, I’ve worked two and three jobs at the same time.

I like to live in a certain neighborhood. I like a car that isn’t a junker. I like to participate in certain activities. All this costs $$$$. I don’t have the liberty of saying “Well, I don’t like to deal with people.”

If this is what suits you, fine-knock yourself out. To each his own.

April 12th, 2011, 03:13 PM

Go to Taupo. There's a little outfit there that does kayaking tours. You can be a guide. Just you and your customers, making conversation on a beautiful lake in the middle of the north island. It'll hardly even seem like work. In your spare time you can write the "Gereat New Zealander's Novel." Or a manifesto. Have fun.

April 12th, 2011, 04:55 PM
My advice ( unless you are above 30 ) is do what you want to do, pour your heart and soul into it. Never give up, I wrote a book just to figure out the complete story of my graphic novel. I love drawing more than anything, so I doodle at every chance I get. I practice at night till I cant stay awake any more, I write so that I can perfect my story.

April 12th, 2011, 08:14 PM
Well, this may not apply, but often people who don't finish anything or who jump from one course of study to the next are afraid to fail. Finishing something means you'll have to prove yourself or demonstrate that you made the right decision. So for some, not committing to anything is a way of coping with that fear. Not taking those exams seems like an example of that. You might have to face that you didn't do as well as thought you might.

All kinds of people make a decent living and find time to write too. That really sounds like another excuse to avoid commitment and/or failure. And I'm not sure how any of this amounts to a "principle."

I think this is pretty common. If it's fear-based -- or you're not sure -- then you might want to get to the root of it. There are ways to overcome this kind of negative thinking -- counseling for one, and there's a good book on the subject I know of, if you're interested.

April 12th, 2011, 08:57 PM
I don't know how old you are, but maybe this will help. However, before I present it to you...I want to note that I am afflicted with this disposition as well, and believe me, it's not a fun "out." It's called the "Quarter-Life Crisis;" which is brought on by the advent of a failing economical structure that cannot support the citizens depending on it. It also involves certain social diseases, chief among them the inability to deal with people. One finds his/herself ostracizing themselves from social norms, often quoting that they are "above the system" or "too ahead of the game." In shorter terms, between the advent of new technology and people forced to distance themselves from friends and family in order to "find their place in the world," they find it easier to simply be alone, which creates a barrier to both finding happiness in people and finding happiness in the workplace.

I'm no psychologist, but this is something else you can look into. I hope you are able to find a place in the world, it's lonely when you don't want anybody around.

April 12th, 2011, 11:17 PM
Thank you all for your thoughts.

Dragonstooth, I'll be 30 this year - still young compared to some of the, ehem, geezers on this forum - but this milestone might be causing me a little anxiety when I see the majority of people take that traditional way of life and just going along with the system that's already in play, almost seemingly in an unquestionable fashion. I can't say that I'm ahead of the system, as you put it, or above things, but I can tell you that I've never really felt at ease being that carpe diem opportunistic person because I don't think that a good chunk of these opportunities are worth seizing. I have had several of such opportunities in the past - the chance to work my way up in an architectural firm, the chance to keep my English teaching post and carve out a life making sure children are learning the right kind of grammar, and more. I do realize that, as it stand for the moment, without money I can't afford the kind of lifestyle I want, but at the same time I'm not willing to accept the trade-off, or sacrifice, for acquiring those luxuries. I know that without hard, diligent work, there's little way that I'll succeed in getting what I want out of this life. I just haven't been successful (yet?) in the line of work I've chosen for myself. And it definitely can be frustrating.

JosephB, I understand what you're thinking and I wish that I could say that I'm afraid to finish those degrees of study. Actually, you may have it partially right. I think that I am afraid to finish something I don't want to do. In every other aspect of my life, I've finished everything I set out purposefully and willingly to do. Two weekends ago I finished a 64km ultramarathon I had trained for months to run, because I wanted to do it, because I like running. I also finish every story that I set out to write (even though it might take an excruciatingly long time), because I like to write. I am a very committed person for things that I want to be committed to. However, I don't like be forced to take classes I don't think I should have to take. In fact, I don't like to be told what to do. This might be a contributing factor in my thinking. I'm afraid I'm a terribly stubborn person and acknowledge it to be one of my strongest and weakest qualities. I am interested in this book that you have in mind. Could you perhaps reply via this thread or message me the title? I'm sufficiently pissed off at both myself and at the current system to give it a good reading.

Custard, thanks for your thoughts. I haven't given up on the "Pursuit of Happiness," no matter how much its philosophy is completely obsolete in today's society.

KarlR, what's the name of this outfit? I first thought of being a wilderness guide many years ago when I worked on a trail crew. Well, it was actually only 6 years ago, but that's many years in my short-lived lifetime. Since then, the thought has been in my mind. I just don't really see how to get started.

Dudester, don't mess with Texas, indeed. You've rather proved some of my points, unfortunately, about 'the system.' You always have the liberty of saying you don't want to do something you don't want to do. The consequences aren't so great, however, and most people are (smart?) enough to realize there are certain hoops they must jump through to get what they want. Hah, this reminds me of a long conversation I had with my Mandarin teacher back when I first quit university. The Hoops Speech.

April 13th, 2011, 02:03 AM
Wilderness Escapes, if I remember correctly. Our guide was fantastic. There was a storm front blowing in on our return leg and we were bucking a pretty serious headwind. He hooked up to my wife's kayak and basically dragged her and my older daughter in--2 miles or so against the wind! He got a pretty hefty "Yank" thank you in return. He wanted to refuse the tip, but we both knew he'd earned it....

April 13th, 2011, 02:13 AM
Could you perhaps reply via this thread or message me the title? I'm sufficiently pissed off at both myself and at the current system to give it a good reading.

The book has an awful title -- it's called Feeling Good, and it's by David Burns, MD. It's centered around the idea of cognitive distortions, or how negative thinking holds us back.

Despite the title, it's not touchy-feeling or about feel-good affirmations. It's a real common sense approach.

Here's a site with the list of the 10 most common types of cognitive distortions -- which is at the heart of the book. I don't know about the site or the other content on the page -- I just Googled the list and Dr. Burns and it came up:

Dialectic & Therapy Blog Archive Cognitive Distortions (http://www.dialectictherapy.com/2010/09/11/cognitive-distortions/)

Candra H
April 13th, 2011, 07:01 PM
I had some things to say, Mike, because your situation and worldview is very familiar to me, but I'm braindead tonight and forgot it all. I'll maybe come back another time...

April 13th, 2011, 10:27 PM
Thanks, Karl, I've already looked at their website. The area around Taupo is nice. I spent a couple nights recently camping near the base of "Mount Doom," but I never visited the lake - or actual city - itself. I'll have to go back and when I do, I'll see about this company.

Thanks Joseph, I remember seeing the book on the shelf at the couple of bookstores I've worked at in the past, but like you, I thought it was a horrible title. I'll see if the library has it today and give it a read.

The Backward OX
April 14th, 2011, 03:43 AM
The secret as I'm sure garza would agree if he stumbles into this thread is to find a paying job that one enjoys. That's all there is to it. Then all the bullsh*t magically fades away. I found such a job too late in life to really capitalise on it, so my advice might be to follow one's instincts.

April 14th, 2011, 04:53 AM
The secret as I'm sure garza would agree if he stumbles into this thread is to find a paying job that one enjoys. That's all there is to it. Then all the bullsh*t magically fades away. I found such a job too late in life to really capitalise on it, so my advice might be to follow one's instincts.

There is that.

April 14th, 2011, 06:30 AM
Sometimes you've just got to bite the bullet, Mike.

April 14th, 2011, 07:21 AM
Ahhh, bite the bullet, not the barrel. Now it makes sense. ;)