Live for a Career

Laid out in front of you is a linear path: get your GCSEs, then some A Levels, a degree, a master’s if you’re good enough, maybe even a PhD, then start a career, and progress up a directionless ladder motivated by incremental salary increases, inflating responsibility and minimising personal time. 

You must strive for these opportunities which are dressed up as successes. You must overstretch yourself to reach that next level, and the one after that and the one after that, wondering when will all this overachieving end? To be content in your place is to be seen as a failure. When are you going to take the next step? When are you going to focus on your career? 

It’s not even clear what that word means – career. It seems more like a contrived way to keep everyone pigeonholed in their teeny tiny boxes. A career is a linear path confined like no other. A trajectory only within your industry. You must go up and up this specific ladder even though it may become more perilous, even though that one beside you has rungs closer together. You mustn’t hop sideways or god-forbid go downwards. You must keep earning more and more! Take on more and more responsibility! Do what you enjoy less and less! Grind the gears of capitalist monotony! And when you’re 70 you can rest, you can enjoy your hobbies then with your dwindling pension, and health issues caused by a life of over-exhaustion

– if you make it.

All those things you enjoyed at school; art, dance, and reading become frivolous activities. They’re permitted on self-care Sunday if you have time. They don’t contribute towards your career; therefore, they are self-indulgent. They’re packed up in something called wellness which has been manufactured to try and counterweigh the longer working hours, dwindling pay increases and lack of job satisfaction. Suddenly picking up a paintbrush feels foreign, like trying to sign your name with your non-dominant hand. Dance can only be accommodated if it takes the form of a sweat inducing exercise session which sees the circles on your smart watch swivel round to completion. Reading is permittable at the end of the day if all other tasks are completed and only if you don’t fall asleep bleary eyed from a too-much-screen-time induced headache.

To say no to it, to the opportunities, is to be ungrateful. To say no is to not overachieve, and the only acceptable performance is the over, is the exceeding.  Now you’re failing, not living up to your promise, a promise that is quantified through salary, the brand of your car and how many bedrooms your house has. It doesn’t consider your happiness, the impact you have on the world, the number of smiles that you put on the faces of those around you. To be linear is to continue striving to the point of exhaustion. Why not be non-sequential? Learn one thing, move onto another, try something different, find what you loathe, what you love, what makes your heart soar, what makes your pulse rise with anticipation, what makes your breath clam up in your throat, your palms sweat. Find what makes your muscles ache, your mind stall. Find what fills you up with happiness at the end of the day and sends you off into contented sleep. Find what gets you up in the morning with a smile. 

One meagre measly ladder up to success can’t do this. You can find elements of a career that fulfil you but ultimately, it’s a means to an end. There’s more to life than contributing to a system that chews you up and spits you out when you become too old to bring benefit to it any longer. Learn, give back, mentor, enjoy, there’s more to life than striving to an ideal of a perfect career which does not exist.

Blue Monday

“Thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel?
Tell me now, how do I feel?” 
New Order – Blue Monday

 

It’s Monday the 21st of January: “Blue Monday” 2019. A day when emotion is universally prescribed “blue” ergo, depressed. A day which, whilst at the same time as bringing mental health into the national consciousness, trivialises it. And as much as we try, as much as we fight it, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – for some, so much more than others.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so problematic, if it weren’t for the fact that, under the facade of “Blue Monday,” sits a sinister, yet tenacious marketing tactic. It’s not overly surprising to learn it’s a PR stunt, devised by a travel company to boost sales, to make money. It’s longevity is pure evidence that this tactic is working. “Blue Monday” continues to exist to uphold capitalism by acting as an annual reminder that: if you feel blue, you should spend money (substituting the usual “If you love someone, spend money on them” (See: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s day et al)) –

“Get a red cup to beat the blues”

“Blue Monday isn’t blue when you’re enjoying our Cheddar!”

“Cheer up your Blue Monday with a sneaky treat!”

Then you’ll feel better. Wouldn’t it be lovely to think that a bit of spending could “cure” what can be, incurable? Not medication. Not counselling. Spending. Spending, which is also –  *absurdly* – one of the main contributing factors to the 3rd Monday of January being “Blue Monday” in the first place. You can see where this is going… Hats off to the big wig advertisers (capitalists) that came up with this vicious cycle of individual suffering!

So why don’t I just shut up and enjoy my free cheeseburger?

Because there are SO MANY people for which a freebie just won’t cut it, myself included. For people who suffer from poor mental health on a regular basis (at least 1 in 4 of us), to wake up and find it is “Blue Monday” is the most self-fulfilling of all prophecies. It can’t be shaken by a fucking Costa coffee (cheese maybe). But jokes aside, poor mental health is something people live with, day in, day out, not simply annually. To trivialise mental health in this way, to disregard medical illness, for the sake of a pseudo-scientific “Blue Monday” is dangerous – for everyone. It’s not healthy for a calendar-event to dictate emotion, to set an expectation on a universal scale, to stuff our mouths with consumer items to stifle our words.

“And I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me
Just how I should feel today”
New Order – Blue Monday

Welcome to the Jungle

The mistreatment of animals is a daily occurrence: something that is necessary to continue our selfishly homogeneous lifestyles. Animals are used on a daily basis for our own benefit: food, clothing, medicine, souvenirs and most of all for monetary profit. Basically the exploitation of animals aids our filthily greedy capitalist society. This ‘profit’ currently exceeds $10 billion annually. Is it worth it? This includes 26.4 tons of ivory hacked from 2760 elephants. 2760 lives destroyed. In no way is that justifiable. In no way can ‘profit’ be worth a life… of any species. I can not stress enough how money is a symbol of nothing but our own HUMAN greed. Why should animals suffer at the hands of our selfishness? For what? So some egotistical human with more money than sense can own a nice rug, a trinket, a souvenir. Degrading a corpse- or part of one- basically. Animals are not disposable.


The WWF campaign speaks for itself -literally: ‘I am not medicine’, ‘I am not a trinket’, ‘I am not a rug’. This is either personification or fucking true. If you reject animal rights, then you must reject the idea of animals as a ‘conscious thinking thing’ (John Locke), otherwise this is genocide. The use of speech in the campaign hardly raises an eyebrow on first view, however it is clear that to reject these claims one must interpret the advertisement as purely anthropomorphising animals and giving them attributes, such as thought and speech, that are not applicable to them. In contrast, by accepting the opinions and voices of these animals as advertised, one is accepting the fact that animals are in fact a ‘conscious thinking thing’ in the same way as humans, and thus, should be treated equally.


How is there any hope, though, for equality between species if there’s not even equality within species?


Our monetarist, capitalist society, is devoid of any concept of equality; women are still fighting for equal rights across the globe, racism and discrimination are still prevalent in every sector and ageism is illustrated daily by government policy. Of course, if we can’t even respect our fellows then we are going to exploit other species. 


In both evolutionary and religious terms animal rights are prominent. In evolutionary terms, the human race is derived from animals, the history of animals including us is an intricate interlaced web of development- should we abuse our ancestors? Materialistically, without a psyche, there is nothing to distinguish the human race from animals other than an alleged ‘higher intelligence’ and this is no justifiable reason to exploit and abuse: we don’t mistreat mentally disabled humans as they have a lower intelligence, do we? – rather we care for them more. Religiously, animals were created by God and therefore hold the same sacred attributes as us with the idea of stewardship also being highlighted in the Bible: 

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals”- Proverbs 12:10


Although there is a sense of ownership here, it is still clear that animals have certain rights that should be respected and this is our responsibility. Arguably, this is rather outdated as the Bible usually is on the topic of equality and rights; even so the general message completely conflicts with the current treatment of animals in our society. It seems evident also that the mistreatment of animals correlates with morality- ‘righteous’– the mistreatment is morally wrong. This raises the question: where does the current mistreatment of animals derive from if not from science or religion? 


Our ravenously selfish vaingloriousness. 


We’re the brutes, the beasts, the animals- it’s not fun and games.