Hey Readers! Jason again.
Last time, I shared my perspective of the Whole 30 experience. I talked about fears and letting go of certain parts of yourself in order to move forward. Getting into it with Elisabeth, I realized there is a deeper disconnect between the prevailing North American culture and just straight up being human.
As anyone who's lived here knows, the U.S.A. is competitive. I had no idea how much until the rush of the relocation/ immigration finally faded away. From what I can tell, it's a number of factors.
Talking to parents here makes me not want to raise kids in this country. Let's not even talk about the medical and parental leave systems right now, because that's another giant mess I'm not getting into. I'm talking about the education system. (For the record, I understand how fortunate Elisabeth and I are to have multiple options when it comes to this.)
From the start of secondary school, kids and their parents need to think two steps ahead. They need to learn how to ace standardized tests. They need to figure out which schools and programs offer the best chance to get into the right college. Kids have to take university level courses as soon as they can to get the absolute best grades. They spend the vast majority of their evening hours on extracurriculars and homework. All to attempt to guarantee entrance and bragging rights in attending the "best" universities. It's no wonder everyone in this country talks so much about their college and sports teams long after they've attended, with so much of your early life devoted to getting there.
And what does all this hard work get you? More and more families that are competing for diminishing job opportunities by doing the exact same thing. To the point where the most sought-after job interviews are populated with students with perfect grades and abundant extracurricular time. If parents don't have the time or resources to help their kids get to that point, they fall behind. With the shifting societal demographics and deflationary economy, there are fewer jobs available anyways - compounding the competition. Who actually benefits most? Universities.
When every student looking for a job has the same 5.0 GPA, knows 3 languages and an instrument, and was captain of every organization they participated in.. what difference does it make? Years ago, doing all these things was uniquely advantageous. Now, there is probably an overabundance of students like that (relative to the job market). And when everyone is the same...
This system does not teach children to be creative thinkers. It teaches them to get lots of things done in pursuit of a goal they only marginally understand at a young age. These are the people that end up working a job they don't enjoy, partying hard to cope with the stress, hitting the gym as often as they can, eating fast food, and complaining about it all to whomever will listen. Except most people are going through the same stuff and don't really want to hear about it because their life is crazier. Just because everyone has to deal with it, doesn't make it right.
Now, compare this all to a more *gasp* "socialized" place like Canada. Schools are more affordable, only marginally competitive, and produce the same type of globally-recognized degree as for someone in the U.S.A.. The same competitiveness and busyness isn't instilled, yet we can get the same jobs as a person who has literally spent the entirety of their childhood working toward the same thing.
Coming back to my point.
That same competitive and busy nature, educationally instilled since childhood, can often prevent you from actually moving forward in life.
While it might feel like you're making progress, most of the time, you're just spinning your wheels harder - and feeling exhausted for it. I know because I've been there. Don't get me wrong, keeping up with life (e.g. work, exercise, laundry, friends/ family, social events) does help achieve existing goals. The process of setting and prioritizing goals however takes a whole different mindset.
With a limited capacity, the conscious mind literally cannot process all of the intuitive information necessary to pick a different path in life. Trust me, I've tried. You can't think your way out of being sick of the way things are. It has to be felt, which requires connecting with your body and the parts of your mind you usually suppress with all that running around. (I thought this cartoon was oddly fitting.)
Being busy for its own sake doesn't leave much time for that. As human beings, we are born with the capacity to think and feel. Neglecting the inherent truth latent in your subconscious mind is tantamount to playing tennis with your hands tied behind your back.
So what does this all mean, practically speaking?
- Deep, belly breathing practice
- Scheduling time for self-reflection
- That's it!
One last point that might help. If you ask yourself questions and you don't get an answer back, it might just mean that voice in your head doesn't feel safe sharing the answer with you.. yet.
To the journey,