I get worried every time a friend seems trapped into his own life. Grown up people that just don’t seem happy, and sometimes even realize this but don’t take the step to define their path, to move away from what is making themselves miserable… Sometimes it’s ‘just’ work, sometimes it’s other people’s expectations, sometimes is chasing everything without electing anything, sometimes is doing a lot of things and not enjoying one single thing, most of the times is consuming themselves in a road leading to nowhere…
So I urge you to stop. Think about your life: what is bringing you joy, what is attracting bad feelings.
Make lists. Think. Decide. You must make progress so that tomorrow your list of ‘joyful things’ can be longer and your list of ‘gloomy things’ can become smaller.
You’re the only one who can start making changes to become happier!
Go for It!
Don’t lose another day.
I came across this text, or the Portuguese version of it, that relates to the same concerns I have and I sadly observe more often that I would like to… I took the audacious move to translate it and hope Ruth Manus will consider this a faithful English version of her great article.
Congratulations Ruth on this alert! Hope it can impact captive people who read it in Portuguese or English.
The sad generation that became captive – Ruth Manus
Once upon a time there was a generation that though it had so much freedom.
They felt sorry for their grandparents, who married early and never travelled to Europe.
They were sorry for their parents, who had to work so hard on simple jobs and sweat many shirts to pay the rent, school fees and family trips to lodging houses in the countryside.
They were sorry for everyone who didn’t speak English fluently.
Once upon a time there was this generation who grew speaking two-languages. And then they were able to also learn roughly french, italian, spanish, german and mandarin.
They went to the best schools.
Attended the best colleges.
They passed the most selective hiring processes and got their contracts.
They were proud, and they were right to be proud.
After that the master’s degree, MBA. Diplomas started filling their walls.
Once upon a time there was this generation that at 20 earned a salary they didn’t need. At 25 they earned what their parents’ earned when they were 45. At 30 their income was more than what their parents earned in a lifetime. At 35 their salary was what their parents’ never dreamed to earn.
Nobody could stop them. More know-how every day, a spectacular career, bank account got prettier every day.
The problem was the summit was getting further and further. The finishing line was moving away from them. Something similar to the donkey that chases the carrot or the dog chasing his tail.
The problem was this nebulosity where you could not distinguish the finishing line, the dream, the will, the ambition, the greed, the need or the addiction.
The money in the bank account was enough to pay for a lot of trips. It could be used to visit that dear friend in Barcelona. It could be used to fulfill the dream to visit Thailand. It was enough to fly so high.
But you know what? Priorities. They would always end up staying instead of leaving.
That generation tried to convince themselves that they could buy well-being in little boxes. They would even believe that an hour of jogging would make up for all the damage done to their body each and every day.
At 20: ibuprofen. At 25: omeprazole. At 30: rivotril. At 35: stent.
A strange generation that would drink coffee to stay awake and take pills to sleep.
They would always be between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Can you take care of this? Yes. Will it meet the deadline? Yes. Can you come in earlier? Yes. Can you stay up late to finish the report? Yes. Do you want to stand out? Yes.
But for their own life, it was usually No:
At 20 they couldn’t study to their colleges exams because their internship was demanding too much.
At 25 they didn’t move abroad because there was this great chance to be promoted in the company.
At 30 they didn’t go to thei good friend’s birthday because they could not leave the office before 2am.
At 35 they did not see their baby take their first steps. When they got home, he was already asleep, when they left home, he wasn’t awake yet.
Sometimes, they would cry in their car and started to ask themselves unguardedly if the life of their parents’ and grandparents’ could have been as bad as it seemed.
For a brief moment they would think that maybe a small house, an ordinary car shared with the wife and holidays in a bed and breakfast could actually make sense.
But it was too late. They we’re already prisoners of fast payments, French wine, resorts, pictures, company’s expectations, friends glancing with curiosity.
Once upon a time there was a generation that though it had so much freedom. After all they had the knowledge, the power, the best positions, they had money.
All they didn’t have was control over their own time.
All they could not see was that days were passing by.
All they could not understand was that their youth was slipping inevitably away and they year-end bonus would not buy them back the years.
My name is T. S. Coelho and I live in Lisbon, Portugal, with my husband and three kids. I work in the asset management industry, managing an equities fund.