Nothing bores me more than people with crystal balls.

The more I talk to people, the broader and less certain the subjects, the more fun I find it to picture them turbaned, leaning over a crystal ball by candle light, muttering an incantation…

“Yes, the spirits have spoken. If we leave the EU our government will totally not join TTIP!”

“Indeed, I see it clearly… having a baby would be the best/worst decision in your life!”

“Allow me to consult the cards, I need to know whether your business will keep making money in two years.”

“The prophecy says that if we do not quell the rise of religion, we will be in the dark ages by 2050…”

“The lines on your hand predict a short love life, so avoid marriage because it will never last.”

“Donald Trump’s stars say that if he tries to build a wall he will start WWIII!”

Yes, I’m sure you’re completely right. If every single factor you are assuming actually takes place. And everyone seems to think they have it figured out. TTIP is supported by the EU, so if we leave the EU then we will do the opposite of them, right? Well, only if the government wants to. There are many reasons for leaving the EU that don’t exclude joining TTIP separately. Relationship statistics are pretty bad, so marriage is pointless, right? Well, only if you are marrying out of some desire to have a pretty wedding and impress your friends, rather than as a legal tool to assist in your shared goals. Marriage is about working as a team towards one thing, not going along for the ride and seeing where you wind up. Trump’s wall would create masses on international conflict and break out into war, right? Well, only if other nations view it as worth their while to start armed conflict with the USA. Perhaps border control isn’t worth the risk of annihilation.

Same goes for all the rest. The underlying assumptions need to be true, and the buildup conditions need to be fulfilled for your “prophecy” to play out.

So stick to your crystal ball. I’ll just keep working on everything I can control and keep on the fence regarding everything I can’t. It’s less stressful that way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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Being One Of The Others. Part III. Beyond School.

The concept of “otherness” is based on the idea of “us vs them”. In short, when we have established what we are, everything else is not us, and therefore must be “them”. The “other” is the individual who has not yet found a place where they belong, or who primarily deals in an environment where they do not belong.

In Part I: Stepping Out, I explored how Other Girls (OGs) are less often an absolute reject and more often the female equivalent to the male rogues: capable, gender-conforming individuals who feel at odds with the main group they live among. In Part II: Partnering, I explained what makes an OG tick and how an OG winds up choosing another Other as her partner, addressing all major variables from unattractiveness to countercultural preferences. And all this explains a bit about OGs on a basic, primitive level. But it all also takes place around high school age, which OGs obviously leave at some point. In Part III I will attempt to show how an OG may find a place for herself and seek friends, family and financial stability outside of normal pathways.

FRIENDS.

The OG was never exactly surrounded by friends in her key development years. And, whilst there are variants, two key reactions to this isolation become evident:

  1. Get as many friends as possible. Throw yourself out there. Embrace your weirdness. It’s not desperate to want to be noticed, liked and spoken to for once. The extrovert option.
  2. People are overrated. You just need one or two close friends. Preferably of the same sex, as men/women are unreliable. Enjoy yourself on your own. The introvert option.

Yes, there are variables. Some extroverts also fall down the path of eliminating one sex from their social life, some introverts are clingy and dependent, some nihilists have many friends and some popular OGs are still awkward about their Otherness. But generally an OG falls into one camp or another.

The issue for all OGs is that main group girls still hate them, or are just plain confused by them. The more status driven the culture, the less solidarity between OGs and MGGs. Which poses some trouble to introverts, as they need one or two close people to function normally, but even more for extroverts, as hostile rejection can eat away at any extrovert, however Other they are.

This means OGs will basically go “social hunting” in areas where other outsiders congregate. Biker bars and metal concerts? Sure, but also libraries, anime conventions, rock bars, tattoo parlours, religious buildings, charities, extreme political groups, squats, gyms, pretty much anywhere a MGG would turn her nose up at. This is for partnering purposes, of course, and an OG will generally gravitate towards the environment that hosts her type of man, be he Main Group or Mad Scientist. But often the partnering drive is subconscious and the girl is simply reaching out for any social contact.

Eventually OGs find each other, or a partner. At which point the introvert and extrovert distinction becomes even stronger. The introvert, having one or two close, reliable, trustworthy, likeable friends will retreat from social hunting. She is done, she has all she needs and she will make no further effort to connect to people. She drops off the face of the planet. The extrovert, however, never has enough. Even if she has a boyfriend or husband, four best friends and a few circles of acquaintances, she will still want to go to her usual haunts to reach out to more and more people and establish a sense of security.

FAMILY.

OGs tend not to like their families. I am unsure why, but my best guess is that the sort of environment that breeds an “abnormal” woman is probably not the sort of environment she wishes to stay in. At the very best she may place blame on her family regardless of evidence to the contrary. At the very worst she comes from a home that literally destroyed her. Whatever the reason, OGs do not like their families.

Confusingly, whereas girls who fall into mainstream cultural patterns who have bad family relations tend to be a bit dangerous to interact with and poor at forming their own families, OGs are hit and miss. Some OGs have a very hard time relating to people and keeping in touch with people. Some OGs are socially normal within their group. Some OGs repeat a bad parenting cycle. Some OGs rebel against it and raise healthy kids.

The only factors that seem to have any bearing on an OG’s future family leanings are surrogacy and replaceability.

  • SURROGACY: Did the OG replace her parents with something, preferably another person, even a role model? How about siblings? Are they present, or replaced? Did she fill in the gap of being a single child by developing close friendships?
  • REPLACEABILITY: Does the OG view people as irreplaceable? Does she hold fast onto her friends and remaining relatives and try and keep them on side? Or does she regularly replace role models and friends?

If she has surrogates for her absentee family and does not replace these surrogates like printer cartridges, then she is probably socially normal, even if she has turned her biological family down.

FINANCE.

OGs can and do find surrogate families, partners and friends later in life, despite school age restrictions. But it is worth noting that the same restrictions that plague an OG during her formative years will come back with a vengeance in the world of work. OGs will gravitate towards job positions that require little sustained interaction. This means any job where interaction with any one person lasts only a few minutes at a time. Introverts may pick jobs that are generally low on interaction, such as animation. Extroverts may pick jobs that are higher on general interaction, such as service sector. But both will try and work with people in the shortest bouts possible. Why? Because the less you talk to people, the less they know about you.

An OG, in work, is forced to deal with coworkers and clients who are almost certainly do not share her subcultural or countercultural leanings. Seeing as many MGGs react to OGs with hostility and many main group men have odd perceptions about them, an OG wants to make interactions short and sweet. The following are all jobs OGs may enjoy:

  • Teacher for older children or adults.
  • Typically male, solitary work, like mechanic or programmer.
  • Art work, such as painter or musician.
  • Accounting, behind the scenes secretarial work.
  • Basic customer service.
  • Warehouse work.
  • Sex work in all its forms.
  • House maintenance, basic housework.
  • Entrepreneurial ventures.
  • “Nerd” work, in areas that are very quiet and male dominated.

And even then, sometimes the pressures of putting on a social front, especially for OGs who have some level of mental disorder (more on that later, but, yes, it is a bigger issue for OGs than main group girls), can get too much. Many OGs aspire to work from home or be a housewife, or will sit back on welfare so as to avoid the daily interactions of work. Not necessarily a good or smart thing to do, but if the daily grind leaves her feeling genuinely unsafe, as though she were in hostile territory, it makes sense.

And that’s it for the basics of an OG’s social life beyond high school. The next section will be on attraction: hobbies, interests, men. Why might OGs be harder to connect with (as a friend or prospective partner) than MGGs, and what can be done to develop some understanding or foster affection if you are not also an OG?

[Author’s note: Before anyone mentions hypocrisy or absolutes, this whole thing is general guidelines, not set in stone. Yes, I disowned my family and keep very few friends. Yes, I view most people as functionarily replaceable. And no, I don’t think that is having an effect on the few relationships where I view the people as irreplaceable. They’re two classes of person to me. But the point is that there are exceptions, I know there are exceptions, and I have to admit that the vast majority of OGs who do not have family surrogates or who treat surrogates as tools will end up doing the same to partners, friends and even their own children. So whilst it bothers me a little that it could change a random stranger’s opinion of me at some point, I would rather have the more accurate information out there. It would be intellectually dishonest to do otherwise so as to make myself feel better.]

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… identify and avoid netsickness.

What is netsickness?

“Netsickness” is a term I am coining to describe the sensation of isolation our new, hyperconnected age gives many of us. The principle is simple:

  • As humans, we are supposed to interact very regularly with people who constitute our tribe. Even the people who lived in isolation would visit the village a couple of times a week and those who always stayed out of everyone’s way were either very low ranking or belonging to a mini-tribe of their own. In other words: whether it was one person or four hundred, we always lived among those we loved.
  • The other situation under which someone would live in isolation was by force. This was where something about you was not accepted by the tribe. Everything from incurable illness to extreme behaviour, from disloyalty to simply being disliked, could be a motive for your people to evict you to the outskirts.
  • Therefore, when we feel much affection for people and talk with them daily, we want to see them often as well. This shows us that we are wanted and liked and makes us feel happy and secure.
  • When the people whom we most love are not near enough to us, we get distressed. To our primitive selves, these are the people who would protect us from danger, cuddle with us when we’re sad, feed us when we cannot feed ourselves, laugh with us over the day’s events. When isolated from them, we get the sensation that we need to get back to them as soon as possible.
  • In essence, being separated from our tribe makes us homesick.

Enter the internet. It used to be the case that we most readily identified with those around us, but now we begin to form opinions and adopt ideologies that do not resemble those of people nearest to us. It also used to be the case that we would most often talk to those around us and nearest to us physically, but now we can spend all day and all night talking to people whom we will never meet. But our brains cannot tell the difference between people online and people in real life. To our brains, as long as they act and talk like people, surely they are people? With the key difference being that people on the internet are people we never meet. We cannot be protected, cuddled, fed or loved by them.

And that makes us homesick. In short, netsickness is homesickness induced by socializing primarily online.

But how do we maintain an ordinary online presence and get in touch with people across the world without making ourselves feel isolated from those we love?

How to detect netsickness.

  1. Do you feel a sensation of wanting to go “home”, without knowing where that is?
  2. Do you feel a constant desire to move, to get away?
  3. Do you find yourself thinking about online friends daily?
  4. Do you find yourself feeling anxious, angry and on edge after an online argument?
  5. Do you find yourself associating with online and in person friends on the same platform?

If you answered “yes” to all the above, you are suffering netsickness. You have allowed your online relationships to become connected to your in person ones and as a consequence you want to go out and meet up with your online friends.

How to prevent and cure netsickness.

1: Isolate platforms.

Separate where you talk to online friends and associates from where you talk to in person friends and associates. Also separate the places where you debate from the places where you interact in a friendly manner, maybe even create accounts for each type of interaction.

For example, as it stands for me:

Facebook, email and linkedin are primarily where I associate with people I actually know.

WordPress and twitter are primarily where I associate with people I like.

Reddit is primarily where I debate.

By keeping them all mostly separate, I reinforce a sense of real life versus the internet, and create an environment where I am comfortable versus one where I welcome abrasive conflict.

2: Restrict online time.

Sometimes the issue is simply one of time dedication. When we spend so much time on the internet we might start to feel as though this is where our lives take place, especially if we are dedicated to one or two sites.

In order to prevent this, consider the following measures:

  • Permanently block websites where you waste vast amounts of time unproductively, or getting wound up.
  • Add a time limit using a tool such as leechblocker onto each individual social site, so that you do not spend too much time on one particular one.
  • Make a point of splitting up time online with real life. Log off every hour and go for a walk, do some chores or just focus on writing and other work.

If you make a point to not live online, then you are less likely to feel bonded to people you do not actually know.

3: Make time for people.

In the same vein, try and make time for people you know in real life. When you put the internet before friends and family you can end up growing isolated from both groups, resulting in a genuine loss of belonging.

The time required with people varies from individual to individual, but in my case it looks like this:

  • See Jon daily, preferably for most of the day, even if we do not speak.
  • See at least one other person, but no more than three.
  • Once to four times a week see someone other than Jon, for reasons other than work.
  • See specific individuals every 3-6 months.
  • Have the odd day where there is no contact but Jon.

When I do that, I feel like ties are maintained, I feel sociable but not tired from excessive socialization.

4: Meet up.

We will always meet one or two people online whom we connect with on such a basic, natural level that regardless of intermittency of contact and an active social life, we will want to spend time with or around them. This will always result in a sense of longing, as these people have become like our own blood relatives, just because of our shared personalities, matching interests and compatible opinions.

So when all else fails: meet. This does not have to be a physical meeting, but merely breeching the barriers of the internet and reality. Seeing as these people have already become a priority to us, it would be worth our while to add them to our friends on facebook, our email contacts or our skype.

And that is the matter of netsickness, laid out.

Have you ever been netsick? How did you deal with it?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… temper your temper.

As of late I’ve been a bit grumpy. I know it’s mostly hormonal, but am currently unsure whether it’s a result of changing my usual mood stabilizers (coffee and fish-based omega supplements), a result of trying for a baby or that I am actually pregnant.

But a temper, however random and hormonal, is a vile thing to control. So here is how I have been trying to keep my usual disposition despite everything annoying me for no reason at all.

1: Do not play the blame game.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, don’t spend all your time looking for things to blame and problems that are making you angry.

Recognize the sources of your anger. Recognize their validity. But try and surpass them, rather than let them annoy you more.

Example: The dog has trodden mud in the carpet after a walk with your friend. You feel the dog is useless and annoying. You feel your friend could have controlled the dog better, or cleaned up after it.

Solution: Acknowledge that it’s done now and trying to put the blame on someone does not fix the issue, it just creates more bad feelings.

2: Keep your mouth shut.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, unless the situation is actively dangerous don’t bring up anger when you’re still angry. Sit it out, work on it in your head and then, when you’re cooled off, see if it’s worth mentioning. More often than not, once the anger has faded back, you will feel it wasn’t worth having an argument about.

Example: You want to shout at your friend for letting the dog into the house.

Solution: Rather than alienate your friend, ask them to help you clean and do not mention that you blame them,

3: Write up a schedule.

Sometimes we get angry because we are just generally stressed and overworked and one little thing out of place can ruin our whole day. Rather than let this happen repeatedly, write a schedule that leaves a bit of room between tasks so that you have time to handle mishaps.

Example: Your friend usually visits on a Wednesday at 12 and lets the dog out in the garden.

Solution: Make sure to be free on Wednesdays from 11.50 to 12.30 so you can clean the dog before it gets inside.

4: Do something creative and relaxing.

Again, sometimes we’re just doing far, far, far too much and need some time to unwind. Humans aren’t meant to just work all day. We need some down time. And what better time for down time than when we are sitting around seething?

Doing something creative calms the stressed part of our brain and is an outlet for anger and sadness.

Example: The carpet looks damaged beyond repair. Now you start thinking about the cost of getting a new one and feel even more stressed.

Solution: Sit down for a bit with a cup of tea and some knitting, a book or some pencils and paper. At first keep the problem out of your mind, but as you relax, slowly let it in and seek a solution.

5: Look for the brightness.

There is a silver lining to every cloud, or so the saying goes. When you are in a bad place it can be hard to see the bright side, especially when it looks like the situation has no upsides at all. But it’s important to consider what the situation could be.

Is there another side effect that has provided an upside? This means there is a silver lining.

Could the situation have been much worse? This means you are doing well compared to what could have been.

Did the situation result from a generally positive thing? This means it is a small price to pay.

Examples:

If you absolutely have to change the carpet, you get to pick a new carpet for your room and reconsider the decor to make it nice. Silver lining.

The carpet was already old and stained, so it doesn’t make any difference, it can stay that way. The scenario is not so bad.

Your friend is a human and humans make mistakes. A stained carpet is a small price to pay for a friend.

And that is how I am managing my annoyance lately. I’m hoping this will pass on its own, or that I will find a way of managing my moods again, seeing as being constantly annoyed isn’t good for your mental health. But at least I am not letting it hurt those close to me or upset my life.

How do you manage irregular moods or anger?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… sit back and chill.

  1. Relax. Think of something nice.
  2. No, the turkey won’t be done after 30 minutes, just leave it.
  3. Phone calls. Breathe deep.
  4. Yes, you remembered to send everyone cards. If someone didn’t get one, insist it was lost in the post.
  5. No, the turkey still isn’t done.
  6. Write a schedule.
  7. Realize there’s no way that schedule is working now that other people are involved.
  8. Try and sit down for another five minutes.
  9. Tell someone not to look for or open their present yet.
  10. Pour yourself something to drink.
  11. Go and check on the turkey. Baste, feel proud.
  12. Fiddle with the decorations before guests arrive.
  13. Make sure the puddings are chilled or frozen well and that the snacks are laid out just so.
  14. Remember your drink.
  15. Light a scented candle to get rid of the strange smell in the entry (why is it the only place that doesn’t smell quite right?).
  16. Chase the dog/cat/child away from the ornaments again.
  17. Fetch your partner a drink. Try and drink yours.
  18. Panic over the roast vegetables and turkey again.
  19. Start making the pie to calm your nerves.
  20. Sit down for a few seconds. The turkey needs more basting.
  21. Put on some jolly music.
  22. Have the second sip of your drink.
  23. Get caught dancing to the jolly music by your recently-arrived guests.
  24. Continue making pie in silent shame.
  25. Will nobody else serve?
  26. Manage to convince someone else to serve.
  27. Say grace as nobody else wants to.
  28. Vow to opt-out for the next two hours.
  29. Find it impossible to relax and keep serving people, checking on the pie and humming along to the music.
  30. Shoo the dog/cat/child away from the very, very, very hot pie.
  31. Serve pudding. Feel proud.
  32. Clean up the awful mess that seems to have spontaneously appeared between bringing out pudding two and pudding three. (Nobody else knows how it got there.)
  33. Let everyone open ONE present.
  34. Now everyone is fed and watching TV, you can relax as it sort of feels like your work is done. It’s a satisfying feeling.
  35. And the dog/cat/child is in the tree. Oh dear…

Can’t win, but it’s all in good fun!

Merry Christmas!

How To… build a tradition.

Traditions are an important part of culture, from our nation’s customs to our family’s quirks. But just because something isn’t a family tradition this festive season doesn’t mean it can’t be. There are many reasons to build a healthy tradition among your loved ones:

  1. It promotes bonding.
  2. It increases productivity.
  3. It replaces our rapidly dwindling external cultures.
  4. It takes some focus off consumerism.
  5. It refocuses us on past customs and religious observations.
  6. It gives us a sense of identity.
  7. It gives us a sense of shared identity.
  8. It promotes thankfulness.

There are definitely more, but don’t those alone highlight why we should be cultivating traditions? So if you want to build a tradition, here are some helpful tips.

1: Decide who to share it with.

You can’t just point out a few people and force a new custom on them. Choose people you will spend a lot of the holiday season, every holiday season with. These are probably the people who matter most, so whether it’s just two or three of you or whether your whole volunteering group is involved, make them a priority.

2: Choose something valuable.

If you want to do something every year, don’t go for something that is unproductive or an absolute waste. Try and find something positive. Look out for:

  • Making things.
  • Sharing experiences.
  • Working together.
  • Creating and imagining things.
  • Good feelings.
  • Faith and oneness.

These are good, strong elements of a valuable tradition.

3: Don’t force it.

You can’t just announce you will be doing something every year. Just try and make it happen and adapt the tradition to suit the people, not the other way around.

4: Encourage positively.

Reward participation and help, make the process as much fun as the result and don’t stress or put on the pressure.

5: Do the legwork.

If you’re the one who wants to “make this a thing”, then expect to do almost all the work yourself. Maybe in future years everyone will be looking forward to it and will help out some more, but for now it’s you.

6: Watch it develop.

Once the wheels are turning, your loved ones should be expressing some more interest in the new tradition and suggesting ways of changing, improving or building it. Just watch the bud burst into bloom.

What traditions are there in your family? However big or small, silly or solemn, I’d love to hear them. 🙂

Here’s to a good and wholesome celebration.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

The Chains We Tie About Our Necks.

Chains1

I’ve seen this quote a thousand times and often thought upon it. You see, the idea is inspirational. We, like birds, have a million places or more we could be if we wanted to, if we really wanted to, yet we don’t go there. We dream of having the money, the freedom, the means to travel to distant places, or live somewhere better. Yet we’re apparently already free to go there. However, when I thought about it some more, I realized the modern Western human does not have the freedom of movement that Harun Yahya implied we do. In fact, we are firmly anchored, chained to one spot. And really, we have nothing and nobody to blame but ourselves.

Of course, we start out free enough. And, in the beginning, we are locked down by others, innocent in our own imprisonment. As infants, children  and often as teens we need our parents for sustenance, safety, education and comfort. Where they go, we go, and unless they fail to provision us one of our four main needs, we will be tied to them for many years. Even if we were to be separated from our parents, a new set would take us on, or we’d be cared for by an institution or another relative. Many of us, myself included, have been taken to new countries, quite against our own desires, thanks to our bond with our parents. Finally, being yet unformed, unwise and uneducated, children need guidance. A child that is free and wild is usually a child that is dead, so even if we were to secure freedom at a young age we would promptly die, implying that said freedom truly is unattainable to a child.

Fortunately, whilst we are bound to our parents, they at least normally act in our personal, individual best interests. Where they will guide us to becoming a more adjusted individual that fits well into society, they would never actually cause us harm so as to bring good to society as a whole. Having children is a selfish act and thus, so is raising them. Most parents want their children fighting fit, educated and free to fly the nest whenever they need to.  The same can’t be said for what is often our primary caregiver in terms of time invested: the educational system. Don’t believe me? A child can spend 8 hours at school (8 til 4, as it was in one of my past schools), one hour traveling to school and one back, plus at least one hour, if not two or three of homework every school day. That’s around 55 hours a week, not counting any weekend work, that a child dedicates to education over term-time. Meanwhile, a primary caregiver parent may spend two hours helping them get up in the morning, then two hours at the end of the day before it’s the child’s bed-time or TV or computer time. If we include after-school activities, a parent’s time with their children on some days could merely consist of getting them up in the morning, a few hours of driving them around followed by dinner. At the weekends the parents take control, but if a child lies in until 10am, spends 6 hours playing with friends or having fun on their own, one hour on homework and then goes to bed or back to their gadgets at 7 or 8pm, that gives the parent an opportunity to get in a whopping eight hours per weekend with their kids. So the time a child invests into parent-child time could be as low as 28 hours for primary caregivers, or even just 7 hours a week for working parents, a far cry from the 55 hours that education seizes.

Yet our new primary caregiver doesn’t particularly care. Children are kept sat still at a desk, in a small room, for between five and ten hours a day, either paying attention in class, doing extra work, having lunch indoors, doing their homework, etc. This is far from a healthy start and promotes inactivity and restlessness, contrary to the Victorian beliefs that came up with these schooling systems. Children are given large amounts of homework they are expected to complete to reach their target grades and not given any idea how much or how little this homework will help them. [Confession: as a teacher you sometimes have to hand out homework but don’t have the time to make some, or don’t see any way it would help. So you give the kids sheets that don’t help at all and will take half an hour to complete.]

And, of course, children are encouraged to be uniform in appearance, sometimes even having to wear little, expensive suits and ties to class; are educated and directed in matters of their social life, morality and individual purpose. They are tailor-made to slot into any available job or university degree around, to seamlessly fit in and start turning their little gear of society. They learn to fear nonconformism, adventure, alien beliefs and moralities. They learn that their purpose, their life, is designed for them, so they don’t need to work. Just fill in the multiple-choice test, get on the conveyor-belt and start turning your gear.

And when they reach higher education they stumble on another stone in the path, one that peddles the complete opposite message: “You can do whatever you want! Follow your dreams!”

Coincidentally, Aaron Clarey went into this a short while ago, which means I don’t have to. But the short form is: if you dream is to be a rainbow unicorn, then good luck there.

But this idea has become so prevalent that a lot of modern youth then proceed to get a degree, any degree, without considering employment prospects, time and money invested or even whether they actually want it. I’ll go into this in a little more detail in another post, so just take home that many Western graduates come out of university in debt, having lost anywhere upwards of three years of their lives, with no employment prospects in anything other than menial work. Which leads us on to the next stage: work.

The modern work system is a thing of genius. You have already skimmed the cream off the milk by filtering it through higher quality universities. Sure, a few drops remain, but all you have left is the more watery portion. They have spent almost the entirety of their formative years in a system, sometimes in daycare from age 1 until graduating at around 25, the age when your brain ceases to drastically change. You have created an adult in the system. They have little to no knowledge that would burden them with an awareness of their own state. They know nothing else but uniformity, sedentary life, conformism and slaving away. They have only just been severed from their parents and they already have debt, which means they need to work and work hard. Of course, this system is now failing due to the burden of caring for so many uneducated, weak-willed, dependent creatures. But for companies they’re still a goldmine. They can turn out a problematic worker at the drop of a hat and swap a more compliant one into their place. They have an infinite supply of a workforce.

And the workforce plays along. After all, they need the money to pay off their debt. And, even though their degree didn’t give them the rainbow unicorn job they’d dreamed of, any money is good money when you’re broke and in debt. This is often a little easier for British graduates, as we get a break when it comes to tuition fee loans. However many UK students also end up with private debt and the free access to education encourages us to fritter away three or four years of our lives even moreso. The end problem is the same, just with differing levels of hardship.

And all the while the graduate is convinced they’ll finally get their rainbow unicorn job, if only. If only they save up and specialize more in their dead-end. If only they get the work experience they need to get the job where they will get work experience. If only they pay of the debt, then they’ll be able to move somewhere there’s a demand for rainbow unicorns. They cling onto these hopes, knuckle down and continue to dedicate their lives to coffee, mops and chips. And they spend a lot of time on this coffee, mops and chips. Sometimes 40-60 hours a week. Which leaves them drained and with little time for self-improvement. Most have a day that looks like this:

6.00: Get up, dressed.

6.10: Eat something. Get ready for work. Mess around on your phone or computer.

6.30: Go to work.

7.30: Sign in.

11.00: Snack break.

11.15: Back to work.

13.00: Lunch break. Eat food and mess around on your phone or computer.

14.00: Back to work.

17.30: Finish work. Tidy up, get changed.

17.45: Head home.

18.45: Get home and sorted. Get food.

19.30: Eat food.

20.00: Mess around on your phone or computer, watch TV.

20.30: Tidy up a little, maybe do the dishes or laundry.

21.00: Get ready for the next day.

21.15: Mess around on your phone or computer, play games, read gossip or watch TV.

22.00-1.00: Go to bed and go to sleep.

Sometimes going out drinking or for dinner is inserted, or an exception is made and something worthwhile is done, like reading, properly socializing, going to the gym, studying or practising a skill. And, of course, some people made wise decisions and are in far better places than that well before they’re 25. But generally, that is a day in the life of a graduate.

But what happens if you swap out the phone, computer, games, gossip and TV? Swap in some valuable habits? Well, then we see people getting run down. A minimum-wage, full-time job is designed in the assumption that self-improvement is not your goal. Many full-time workers in jobs they don’t like find themselves becoming tired, frustrated and depressed when they curb their idle pleasures. You need these things to keep you sane. You live in a small, unnatural environment, your spare time is restricted, you are easily replaceable, eveyone around you is tense, angry or depressed, your hopes are being shattered, debt looms over you and everything is generally rubbish. Without escapism many graduates wouldn’t be here today. Financially, many end up losing out or breaking even. They may pay back their loans and finally make enough money so they feel their time was well-dedicated. But they may also end up forever burdened by the loan and their job, never quite paying everything off, going from university debt, to personal debt, to a mortgage, to the grave in debt. And any financial support that would help keep them out of the red is often more debt or charity. Basically, unless you’re truly destitute, you can’t even buy yourself time without borrowing money to buy it with.And, finally, there are the continual, gnawing, low-level expenses. I will challenge you here and now to keep a diary for 6-12 months. Every time you spend over £100 on something that isn’t groceries or rent, every time you pay more than usual on your groceries or bills, every time you have an accident and need more money, note it down. Then divide it by the month. Most people will spot anywhere from £100-300 of entirely unaccounted money leaving their accounts every month. It may be new tyres for the car. Or a more expensive phone-bill. Or new clothes. Or an upgraded games console. Or a leak in the kitchen. Or a night out. Or an ill pet. It won’t be a consistent thing. Every time you’ll just tell yourself how its “a one off”, how it “won’t happen again for a while”. But the money going out is consistent.  And oftentimes when you add the low-level expenses to your rent, debt, bills, groceries, transport expenses, hobbies and the likes, you’re breaking even or in the red. So even saving has become difficult.

Yet we can’t entirely avoid these expenses. Some happen due to pure chance. And those that don’t are almost a responsibility. Why? Well, being social animals, humans respond to other people. Whether it’s someone pressuring you into going to their cousin’s birthday party, the desire to own a new bag to fit in with your friends or being guilted into helping someone out with an expense, we all end up spending on our social lives, often more than we’d like to or are able to. Because we just can’t break those ties. And the more ties your form, or the longer you hold them, or the more you give in, the more you’re expected to spend.

But other people add more than financial ties to your life. Above we addressed our first chain: a dependence on our parents. Well, now we are choosing our social chains and I’ll suggest that parents are also tied by their children. Children depend on you. They need sustenance, shelter, protection and affection. They must be educated, raised in a stable environment. And in order to provide for a child, get them educated and keep them safe and happy, we must stay put, at least most of the time. Same goes for any dependent. When we take on the role of a carer, we sacrifice a certain amount of freedom.

However people who aren’t dependent on you will also act as a chain. If you have a partner, not only do you have your work, debt, dependence or dependents, but you take on theirs as well. As long as you are a unit with someone, you embrace their restrictions and problems and welcome them into your life. The same often goes for close friends.

Finally, on the matter of social life, we have influence. As most people lead unhealthy, unfulfilling, consumerist lives, then chances are that most of our family, friends and acquaintances will also lead such lives. And if most people around you live a certain way, then you are more likely to be drawn towards it also. If your friends want to go out and get drunk, you either go with them or miss out. If your partner doesn’t want to go to the gym, you either stay home or go on your own. The fewer people that surround you when you step outside your comfort zone, the more likely you are to return to that comfort zone. And most people’s comfort zones are the same. We seek light, easy, unfulfilling entertainment. Stuff that numbs the pain and boredom of everyday life, even if we need a continual supply of it. Humans being neophiles, we become almost instantly addicted to these new streams of bland entertainment. And even if you don’t succumb, the majority do, which means the majority of your social circle does, which means you also may eventually slip.

And what are the consequences of the way we live our lives? Well, besides the limitations I have already mentioned, we see plain, run-of-the-mill ill health. As I have already said, the average person has little time to exercise or little time they are willing or able to dedicate to exercise. Most people you know will either drink, smoke or take drugs, if not all three. Most people you know won’t work out regularly. Most people you know watch 2-4 hours of TV a day. Most people you know eat a rubbish diet at least half the time.
Our workplaces keep us out of sunlight and away from nature. The modern recommended diet, with it’s high-carb, junk-friendly bias is similar to those diets imposed by cult leaders to promote passive, weak, sheep-like followers. We are surrounded by pollution of all varieties. And our doctors are so used to just being asked for a pill that many prefer to recommend medication over lifestyle changes, even where medication is the least effective option. Our environment and our social circles conspire together to keep us overweight, undermuscled, lethargic, passive, ill, drugged-up. And when you are weak in body and mind, your will to escape comes only second to your will to survive.We are bound by debt, work, children, friends, obesity, peer pressure and ignorance.

However, ultimately, we only stay in these bonds because we want to. Not because we want the bonds. No. We hang these chains around our necks because we dislike the alternatives. Sometimes we’re afraid. We go through education because we’re scared of not having a degree, of not getting work. We go to work because we’re scared of not having money. We tie ourselves to people because we’re scared of being alone. However sometimes we’re not even afraid, sometimes we’re just too comfortable, it’s just too easy. We do what everyone else does, we refuse to change, because this takes effort. We’re led into these chains and willingly, out of pure ignorance hang them around our own necks. Eventually we reach a point where we can only stay chained through our own faults, yet our faults are the only reason we needed the chains to begin with. We’ve created characters out of ourselves. Characters that are idle, ignorant, weak, debt-ridden, consumerist, hopeless, peer-pressured, obese, neophiles, hen-pecked, infinitely replaceable people. Characters that have debt gnawing on their skulls, people depending on them, a contract. Characters who have already dug themselves in so deep, they may as well keep digging. There’s no way out for them either way. We depend on the chains to excuse and support us, because, like an arm in a cast, we have become dependent on our limitations to support us.  And keeping these comfortable chains is easier than the pain of ripping them off and standing on your own.