Guest Post: Fight the Lie

July 1, 2013 — 16 Comments

It’s been a lot of work getting through SE Asia, so I’m taking the week off!  Instead, I’m excited to share a guest post from a great blogger, Jon Jefferson.  He left a really good comment on my post Clearing Rain Forests Makes Economic Sense, so I asked him to elaborate on his comment.  Be sure to check out his bio at the bottom of this post and his two blogs – 10th Day Brewing and Misadventures in Strange Places.

Guest Post:  Fight the Lie

Years ago, it didn’t take much to survive. I remember when I was in the Marines, as a married corporal I was making roughy 8.50 an hour (that is if we were paid hourly wages). That was enough to have an apartment and food even go to movies and such. It was livable.

After I was back in the real world, one of the jobs I worked at paid 6.75 an hour. This was a couple dollars over minimum wage. I was the only one working between my wife and I. We had our first child with me making less than 10 dollars an hour. In fact we even had our second child with me making less than 10 dollars an hour. I was the only one with a job. For the first few years of my children’s lives they had a stay at home mother.

Working jobs with no education, factory jobs that were some of the best you could get with no education outside of high school, I climbed as high as 13 dollars an hour. During this time it only took one of us working outside the home.

Things changed, within the world, within the job market. Over the last 20 years the cost of living has increased dramatically. The minimum wage has increased. But the amount a company is willing to pay its workers has remained relatively the same.

Companies are demanding more from those who work for them but paying them less. This is where I found myself after 6 years of college to get my bachelors degree. I had gotten my associates degree in culinary arts and then finished it with a bachelors degree in business management. I was working as a line cook.

Sure I had risen higher than that. I had been a kitchen supervisor and a sous chef. The pay wasn’t any better. All I got for that was more responsibility and work but the pay stayed around 10 dollars or less. The last kitchen I worked in I had gotten pay raises to put me to the top of the line cook pay scale. I was making 10 dollars an hour.

To make matters worse, cooks were being hired in at the same rate. They had no hope to make any more money, though they didn’t realize this at first. This is a demoralizing situation to be in to say the least.

Then the work load doubles, and here I am still making the same thing. When you work some where long enough you learn the pay levels. You also learn how much work is involved at each level. The law of diminishing returns tells you at one point the raise you get won’t be enough to cover the stress and aggravation involved with the work load. The feeling that takes over when you reach this point is aggravation and disappointment.

There is another moment in time. You might not have reached it yet. Or you might be there but not know what exactly is going on. This is a the moment you realize that you are stuck in this moment in time. This moment is despair. A feeling that you can’t escape the place you are in.

Despair is draining; it sucks the life from you. When you buy into its lies you find yourself as trapped and miserable as the lies it tells you. I had reached this point in my working life.

I was trapped. At this point in our life my kids were much older. Both myself and my wife were working, making double and a bit more than what I was making when I supported us by myself. We were no further ahead, and we had little to nothing to show for our efforts.

Imagine, my oldest daughter is now in college my youngest is in high school. I have spent most of their life scraping by to never see them. We have never really built a relationship because I was always gone. I had to work, but to look at the life we built you have to ask yourself, to what end?

You see, at some point, you will look around and realize, this isn’t working. Somewhere along the lines you bought into a lie about what your life should be. I personally hope for you it is before you reach despair. That is something no one should ever have to live in. But even if you reach that point you can still escape.

Many of us are lost. We believe so strongly in the lie that we don’t know what it is we really want. I just realized you may not know what the lie is yet. The lie is that one we were all told. If you work hard at a job you will have everything you want and your life will be great.

The power of the lie is based on a truth, but a perverted truth. Work is required. You see, breaking out of the lie isn’t easy. But it is possible. It will take work. You will have to be vigilant. To get something you never thought you could have, you will have to do things you never thought you would do.

Living outside the box that life gives you isn’t easy. We still have our bills. But we make sacrifices. I can’t remember the last time we went to a movie. If we are lucky we go out to eat about once every six months (good thing I can cook I guess). But you know, I have spent more time with my kids in the past year than I have in the past 18.

The transition hasn’t been instantaneous. There is always a learning curve. After a year of working day after day, I am finally hitting the ground floor. I have two blogs that are gaining momentum. As I write this I am putting the finishing touches on my first Ebook. It isn’t a novel, I found I am happier with short stories. But these are things you learn when you finally break out of the lie.

Maybe writing isn’t your thing. There is nothing wrong with that. The question you have to ask yourself is what is it that gets you up in the morning? Money will only motivate you for so long. Find that one thing that will give you the push you need to break free of the lie. In the end, the only thing you have in this world is the work of your own hands.

After all that, I will leave you with something I like to say when I end a post on one of my blogs. It’s time for a pint…


Jon’s BioJon Jefferson

Jon Jefferson lives in Michigan. During his adult working life he has watched the landscape change from “secure” automotive manufacturing jobs to an unstable economy. Though Michigan is beginning to recover, jobs are still scarce. Now more than ever it is important to find our own security instead of relying on others.

He writes and maintains the blogs 10th Day Brewing and Misadventures in Strange Places

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16 responses to Guest Post: Fight the Lie

  1. Thank you, Dan for the opportunity to share with your readers. I have one thing to add. Sometimes there are steps that seem anticlimactic, you don’t realize the importance of them till long after they happen.

    Just before I came to your site this morning, I hit the publish button for my first book. Fractured Hearts is officially published and should be available within the next 24 hours in the US. There was no fanfare. There was no ticker tape parade. But it is a moment in time that is a huge turning point to pushing outside of the world that once held my life in chains.

    • Jon – this is so awesome, congrats on this huge step!! As you mentioned, this is a HUGE turning point that help takes you towards what you’re becoming. It reminds me of when I first hit publish on my blog… not much fanfare, but over time it has come alive 🙂

      Thanks so much for the incredible guest post… very powerful stuff

  2. Jon — as President Kennedy famously said, “Life is unfair.” Not everyone becomes an investment banker rolling in the money. But your point to do what you love is so important. Most people go through life in jobs they tolerate or hate. Like you, they need the income. But how long can you keep doing that? It seems you’ve found your passion in writing and brewing. It’s never too late!

    • Life is never fair. What is important though is if you can be content living in the lot you accept or do you need more. When you realize you need more, then it is time to do more to get it.

    • Love your point that “it’s never too late” – I know people who turn 30 and think they’re already stuck in a career they hate for the rest of their lives!!

  3. I love the way you give us the truth along with the ‘way out’. So many live the lie and don’t even know they are living the lie. We work to support our families and then we never see them. Better to live with and on less than to never know your family. I congratulate you Jon on publishing your first work. I know there are many more coming and I look forward to them all. 🙂

  4. I had spent a lifetime doing just what you described. I had been very successful rising the an executive level very quickly in the corporate world making the kind of money that dg=goes along with that. I was lucky. I had a good grounding in managing money and had to good sense to put some away and the not live beyond my means as many of my peers did. In the end, there was a resulting layoff, my good sense about money now allows me to do what I’m doing now. Go for it Jon. Life is too short not to live happy. 🙂

    • That can be the worst time of it too, thinking everything is going good and then whammo, the worst can happen. Having the sense to protect yourself like you did is a great thing to buffer the setbacks. In the end the only real security is what you can build yourself.

  5. Jon, I totally relate to this post. The feeling of living the lie and the day to day drudgery of getting a job done that sucks your soul away little by little. It’s so ingrained in so many of us to do our jobs, no matter what, even when the time and stress and general inanity of the tasks involved brings so little rewards, aside from a paycheck and working all hours of the day. I quit my teaching job without much of a game plan at all, which has meant a lot of stumbling at first. So many different circumstances transpire to allow windows where none existed before, so even though we stumble onto such paths via different means, we’re still on the road together.

    • When I finally broke free I lived by one mantra, “Jump and the net will appear.” It can be scary jumping into the openness, but there are friends you didn’t know you had to catch you and help you. You have to let go of the way things were to find the way things can be.

  6. All I can say is WOW. Dan, thanks for letting Jon share his story. I’ve visited him in the blogosphere, but I’ve never heard this side of his story. Jon, this post is inspiring. You have lived the life of my father–work work work to no end, and even to not have time to spend with family. Your story with the manufacturing background is not the kind I hear about in the blogosphere too often, but I know that so many people are in it. I hope they are reading this stuff and taking inspiration from you. While I don’t have financial troubles, I am at that point where I ask “for what point?” I’ve been making changes too, and you are so right, it takes WORK and it takes time and many of the things we do along the way to get there have no fanfare. No fireworks. No glory on the backend. Thanks for talking about that part of it. Keep on rocking!!

    • Someone once told me there are three kinds of people. People are either money poor, time poor, or both at the same time. Sometimes the worst place to be is one where you think you are doing ok. When you finally get a chance to breath and take a step back and look around you, at that point, if what you see doesn’t bring you joy, you need to make a change.

      Work is an essential part of who we are. There will always be something about our work that we don’t care for, there is nothing wrong with that. But overall we should find joy in what we do. There should be a sense of fulfillment.

  7. Dan and Jon – you are both such an inspiration to me. Dan you are following your passion and look where it got you….. traveling the world. Jon – you are such a prolific writer and story teller. Even on a subject such as this post, I am drawn into your words.

    My dad is a chef and has worked in the same restaurant for over 30 yrs. I understand when you say you worked tireless hours and sacrificed time with your family. There has been many holidays, nights, and weekends were he had to work. I too know that the pay is not relevant to the job, He too is the kitchen manager/ head chef and is not paid for his skill level.

    • Wow, 30 years at the same place. Most kitchen positions are transitory. Most who live that life spend about 2-5 years at a place before moving on to the next kitchen.

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  1. Drumroll Please | Misadventures in Strange Places - July 1, 2013

    […] well. Today I got the chance to guest post for him. If you get some time check out my post “Fight the Lie” and the rest of his blog. Go there, go there […]

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