Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. ~John F. Kennedy
When I graduated from high school, I knew that getting a job was my next step. Paying my way was not an option. And although the thought of working every day for someone else made me a little sick I did it because that’s what I witnessed. So I conformed.
When I first entered the workforce, I worked for a company that expected me to look busy. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but they paid me to look busy. This job reminded me of how my sibling and I pretend played in our childhood. I’d come in and sit at my computer. I worked on the same documents for the sake of looking busy. Then 2 week’s later, abracadabra, a paycheck. No wonder I was afraid to spend my money. I didn’t feel like I earned a dime of it. But I conformed.
On the train to work years ago sitting in a window seat, it hit me. I was there on the train out of mere routine waiting for the doors to chime and the announcement, “Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter.”
I stood with many others and began the migration out the train car, up the escalator, and out into the city streets. And somehow, someway I landed back at the job I loathed for 10 years. Conformity.
Soon after this event, I got the news that the contract would expire. It was the summer of 2005. For many years my body was on auto-repeat. I did exactly what I saw. It wasn’t the most productive way of being. I did a lot of talking those days although I think that was my “crawl before you walk stage”.
Like most people, until life presented an unexpected event like missing the train, a sick child, an impromptu meeting with my supervisor, a malfunctioning computer, a miscalculated paycheck, missing keys, extra work, or whatever happened to jar me awake. I realized that I was in a trance.
If the crowed train stopped and everyone went to the left I went to the left. I could have easily stayed at that job until retirement without contributing anything significant for years. When the offer to continue with the company after the contract ended came knocking on my office door I knew that an offer didn’t exist that would persuade me to stay onboard.
As the saying goes, when you know better do better. And doing better meant walking away. Yes, I was grateful for the opportunity, but my stay expired a long time ago.
My Plea : Wake-up before something happens. All too often people wait until their life is derailed to do the things that they’ve dreamed of all their life. I say, “Do it now because waiting until tomorrow is too risky.”
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