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 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.