Fleas in a Jar Experiment
There is this famous experiment – legit or fake, it does not really matter – in which a number of fleas are placed in a jar. Since their nature is to jump high – up to 100 times their weight, which can go up to 20cm – they exceed way above the jar limit. But then a lid is placed on the top and the fleas, keeping their natural instincts, start hitting it hard and falling down into the jar. Consequently, they begin to jump a little bit lower, until they no longer hit the lid.
Three days later the lid is removed and guess what? Since the fleas learned the maximum height they can reach, without getting hurt, they will never jump out of the jar. Furthermore, their offspring will duplicate this behaviour forever, as this new height standard will be passed from generation to generation.
The fleas just condition themselves to jump lower, in order that they do not hit the lid any more. So when they have the opportunity to jump higher again, they will no longer do it because they have already programmed their brains that it will never be possible.
“Oh, but that would only happen to insects or to stupid small animals, what does have to do with human beings?” Well, let me tell you that we, humans, have an unbeatable advantage over all the others in the animal kingdom due to our ability to act and think rationally… but that is also our big disadvantage.
The fact we are animals of reasoning, with our thoughts, ideas and capacity of analysis, accumulating memories on the top, makes that we start making mind maps and association of ideas all the time. So what we see around, the people we communicate with and relate to and what we are told and taught is also a very important part of ourselves, usually becoming the reality we know. Basically, the environment we grow (and also live) in dictates who we are and how we think.
The Harsh Truth
If you, like me, were born on planet Earth and you were raised in a western society, then most likely scenario is that you are not where you would like to be.
(Quick hint: Far from that!)
Since you were a little child, you were taught that you must be a nice person, go to school and study hard until you finally reach those glory days in which you will be fully ready to…apply for job. Oh yes, that dream life of starting at 9 and leaving at 9 (forget about the 9 to 5, those are the jobs for the unambitious), arriving at home with no soul and creativity left whatsoever, but with that indisputable feeling of duty accomplished. Everyday might be the same, but you know that you have made your boss’s life better and that is all that matters.
Since you were a child, you were taught that there is only one way to be socially accepted and successful, and that is to have a stable job and to climb the career level, the ultimate stage of a fulfilled person. And then everything follows: stylish clothes, a nice car, a well-equipped home and women, who just look at you as a valuable man, ready to be a serious provider and the head of a future and lovely household.
Well my friend, I have bad news for you: you have been indoctrinated by the ones who love you the most! Yes, since you have been able to speak and to think rationally, your father, your mother and most likely everyone around you just spit the same old formula of being successful. As if success were defined by working for someone’s else your entire life, to then live the golden years when you can no longer grab your penis to pee, just because your sciatica, your arthritis and your lack of vision do not allow you to do so any more.
Hey, but do not blame them, as they deeply did it to protect your best interests and to give you the best possible future. They just proceeded according to what they were always told to, a truth which is transmitted from generation to generation, without anyone questioning the validity behind it.
Basically, if you have come from a “normal family”, whose none of the members is rich, then I regret to inform you that you been ingrained with the mediocre mindset deep inside your brain.
Find a job and then build all your life around it
Look, I do not even need to talk about the others, as I can start with myself. Almost six years ago I came to Germany, looking for opportunities which could provide me a better life. It did not matter whether I would like the country, the people, the culture (by the way, I don’t). No, what was important was to find a job – and subsequent jobs – which would finally give me financial security and the solid foundations for the rest of my life. After all, this country is the engine of Europe, a social security heaven which will never leave you hanging.
And like me there are many: the Spanish Engineer who could not find a good salary in his home country, so he just moved to Denmark because there they pay the double. Or what about the Portuguese doctor who moved to Canada, just because “you can not compare the conditions and the life standards of both countries”. Or even the French husband and father who found an opportunity of a lifetime in Dubai, taking all his family with him.
I could go on and on with the examples, just to show you that 99% of the active population simply bases their life around their job. If you look around and think of most of the people you know, you will realise that their life orbits about their profession. And in the end, what matters most is to be responsible and to do the best for the company one is working for, who is also part of what this person is. “Hello, I am John, an engineer at Boeing”. The time to be with friends – and also with part or most of the family – and to do the things one truly enjoys is just secondary and must be put after all the work duties are fulfilled.
The disturbed minority
But we are not like the majority. We have always known that something was wrong in the first place and that there must be another way, a path which will you provide you a sense of fulfilment and just not kill you slowly.
When I graduated, almost ten years ago – exactly when the financial crisis of 2008 burst – my only preoccupation was to find a job, or at least an internship, which would put me in the market place as soon as possible. My father, also afraid of the consequences of being too much time unemployed, started pressing me to look for all types of corporate jobs and not just the ones I had some preferences about.
This was the first moment in which I felt this interior discomfort, as if everyone but me was dictating the course of my life. Fortunately enough I found my first internship in the automotive industry, which allowed me at least to work in a very cool environment – among mostly men, of course – and to drive and test a lot of cars.
One year later, I got my real first job, working in the marketing department of a courier company, in which I was a product manager. The responsibilities, and also higher salary, gave me an incredible theoretical satisfaction. But some months later, I felt again that something was not right. And in the summer of 2011, I decided to leave my job and go to Ibiza to sell some Açai on the beach and experience what the party island was all about.
I could go on and on, also referring 2014, when I was already with a job in Germany, but decided to ask for unpaid leave for three months to go to Brazil, just to have some freedom, bang some girls and eventually find a new opportunities there.
The cycle repeats itself over and over again just to prove one very simple thing: that I am not a person who has been made to be a cubicle rat. Trust me, I have really tried to believe that working for someone’s else was the only solution, but after almost 10 years I have finally realised that I have always been lying to myself.
Build your life around your ideal lifestyle (and not the other way around)
If you are still reading these lines, most likely you are exactly in the same situation as I do. But maybe because you have always been told that working for someone’s else is the only way, or simply because you are too afraid of leaving your comfort zone and facing the unknown, you just keep going with your normal life.
Because you know that, deep down, you only feel fulfilled and happy when you write words in a computer. Or perhaps when you travel around the globe and tell others about your experiences. Or even when you are home mixing music in your amateur DJ program, something which makes you feel real and in charge.
So why people do this? Why people live their entire lives dreaming about doing something they really would like to but instead keep resigning to a reality they believe is the only one possible. People who have a dream of doing something, but who are afraid of the ridicule, thinking this stupid idea will never work and that they were just being lunatics.
But I will give you a challenge right now: stop in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Do not just see but really look within yourself. Talk to you if necessary, just to bring out the real YOU. Yes, that one who rarely shows up, unless all the planets are aligned or the level of alcohol in the blood is high. The powerful YOU who knows what he likes, what motivates him and what makes him happy.
The real YOU who knows that, from the depths of his soul, he can go another way. That way which is tough, hard, almost impossible, but whose rewards and sense of fulfilment will be unbeatable.
On the other hand, I know that reality always has a crucial role and that without money you will be worse than dead. But that is why I recommend you to save a considerable amount of money – to allow to “survive” between six to twelve months – to then say fuck to your job and start that hustle you had never the courage to.
In the end, you will embark in a one way trip which will have no return, because this journey will be so challenging that it will hurt to even think about returning to that old, routine mediocre life. Bring the child who still lives inside you, that unformatted flea to jump as high as it can. You have many rounds in life but merely one big shot, so why wasting it in something which will only make you miserable?