You Dare Quit Your Job In This Market!?!?

There are two ideals that anyone with a brain MUST hold sacred.

The first ideal is individuality. We people are not cows and should not be treated like them.

The second ideal is having a sense of real self-worth. You should receive rewards based on what you're actually putting out into the world, not on what some rich elitist asshole believes they can get away with paying for it.

Warning: wild tangent follows

We all have a dream of something better. We all want to live life the way that we see fit. Lots of noise accompanies the dream - noise from advertising and propaganda, noise from self-doubts, noise from peer pressure and established norms. The noise is not only deafening, it's horrifying. The dream seems impossible to obtain.

The truth is, however, when you clear through the noise and really see what it is you truly, deep-down-inside want in life, it turns out to be something easily attainable. Your day job, the one you go to every day just trying to pay the bills, may be just what's holding you in place and making it impossible to fulfill this dream. At least, that's what I came to realize.

I've been a bit of a renegade most of my life. I've hated many of the established norms. I've challenged authority. I've got myself in to trouble countless times for breaking rules I didn't agree with.

When I was 16, I had a job at a plant nursery for a summer. I went to work when I was scheduled and plucked weeds from around the plants. I liked that job, but I didn't like the schedule. In fact, I loved that job. I would spend hours just pulling weeds and thinking, admiring the beauty of the natural world. But I didn't like the schedule. Needless to say, I just stopped showing up. Instead, I went bass fishing. At 17, I did the same thing with high school itself. I didn't like having to go and sit in classrooms chewing the same information day after day like a cow chewing its cud. So, instead, I went fishing. I stopped going to class and started learning on my own time.

I became an official "drop out" in the fall of 1999. In January 2000, I landed a "job" working as a freelance computer programmer with a local business, a $600/wk contract that took me overseas to Spain and Australia. When the contract ended, I was sure I would have no trouble finding more work just like it. But by 2001, the stark "reality" of the world had sunk in. I found myself grinding away working dead-end security jobs while I attended college. I spent years "working for the man", never feeling any control over any of it. Being an employee was akin to being a slave.

The jobs got better over time, from working security to working as a graphic designer, and eventually to working as a web developer. But I was still a lowly, underpaid and under appreciated employee. I forgot what it felt like to have true freedom.

Then, in 2009, I quit my day job. What followed was a remembering of what it is to be self-employed.

Back to these ideals of individuality and real self-worth.

The truth boils down to this: as an employee you are a cow. Your sole purpose is to produce milk and doing anything other than this is forbidden. The farmer places you with the other cows, who also produce milk and do nothing more. You don't need to know anything other than how to produce milk. In fact, learning how to produce, say, butter can be dangerous to your own well being.

If you take it upon yourself to learn to produce butter, there are two likely outcomes:

Outcome #1 - You get reprimanded. After all, you were hired to produce milk, not butter. That's someone else's job.

Outcome #2 - The farmer throws an extra handful of hay into your trough. You will now be expected to produce butter, day in and day out, for less hay than the other butter making cows get. After all, you were hired to produce milk, not butter, and you will always be a milk cow to the farmer.

Your life as a cow won't get easier the more you try to produce - it just gets harder. You do more and more work for no real gains. The extra bite or two of hay at the end of the day is hardly worth all that churning it took to make butter.

If you choose to be a cow, the only viable option is to give up and just make milk - nothing more, nothing less - and be happy with your meager rations of hay each day.

Imagine, though, that you decide to quit being a "cow" and you walk away from the farm to start producing milk and butter on your own time. You sell what you make at the market rate. You are now in charge of your own production, not the farmer. There's no farmer to reprimand you for producing butter instead of milk. In fact, you can expand your knowledge further and learn to produce cheese, yogurt and even ice cream if you'd like, each fetching more at market providing you with all the hay you deserve. You're in charge now.

I know, it's terrible metaphor, but it works well enough for our purposes here. What I'm saying is this: in pursuing a dream, there's not much room for being a cow. You have to hold on to the ideals of individuality and self-worth. Anyone with a brain has a dream of what life should be like, and it's your responsibility in life to move toward that dream. It's your responsibility to attain it. You'll never achieve your dream by sacrificing your individuality or your sense of real self-worth.

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