Crushing your ego is not a bad thing
A large theme in my recent blog posts has revolved around kindness and treating people with the respect that we demand for our individual selves. In my quest to understand the world that I am a part of, and the motivations of my peers, I have taken many steps forward to understanding my path in my own life, and ultimately the insecurities that influence my reactions to adverse situations.
It’s not surprising news to my readers when I inform them about the significant time off from work I have taken to travel and explore different cultures with the purpose to challenge myself and to understand the human condition more thoroughly. My time off was inspired by many factors.
By the time I was 30 I had achieved many of the goals that society demanded. I was in a successful long-term monogamous relationship. I owned property in downtown Toronto. I had a career with an impressive job title, salary, benefits and pension. On the outside it appeared that I had everything that a person would want to have. The problem was that this left me feeling empty. Material possession and societal status didn’t interest me in the least. When I look back to my infancy, it never did.
During this time I began to think about what I would risk and sacrifice to protect these achievements to ensure that they continued to grow. I was working for a reputable hospital, and many people would have killed for the same opportunity, but the people I was working for and with behaved horrendously to one another and while I sat on the periphery and watched arguably responsible adults behave like entitled teenagers, I thought about my future.
You see, it wasn’t getting any better. No matter where I landed in the job market I was inundated with office politics and game playing that I had no interest in being involved with. I’m reticent to admit that many of the guilty individuals were middle-aged women, on the cusp of losing their minds to protect their occupations, which they had not only grown to identify with, but for what they owed everything that they coveted, right down to their children. They had learned to compromise their integrity and their dignity to protect their material possessions, and their perceived right to acquire more. They were hysterical and rarely took the time to reflect on their behaviour to ensure that the following day was more positive for themselves and their colleagues.
So I got out. Their antics were beneath me, and I told them such. The job was not worth witnessing their behaviour on a daily basis. What followed after I resigned was the judgmental glares from those who I had depended on for support. They had bought into the notion that our position in society was the ultimate objective, and my choice to defiantly walk away from this unspoken rule challenged their perceived norms. It was a lonely time for me, but eventually all the pain was worth it, because I grew stronger and began to learn what was really important in my life.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned was to release my ego. Collectively we make decisions solely based on our selfish desires, and obsession to fit in. It’s a costly choice, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to one another and most of our decisions are derived from a place of deep insecurity. We’re not making individual decisions, we’re merely adhering to conventional wisdom of what we’re supposed to do, and not what we want to do.
We’re now upon the age of the working poor. The average person appears to be living well, but behind the facade is debt, stress and a loss of control. We’re working for reputable organizations, and making a decent salary, but to fill the void we degrade ourselves by coveting shallow image obsessed possessions that are slowly bleeding our pockets dry and influencing selfish, bad behaviour.
I am often on Twitter and am appalled at how superficial our society has become. Young tweeters are more interested in appearing to be music enthusiasts, or what have you, than actually knowing anything about it. The interest is in their image, usurping their peers and behaving badly in the process. If you take any of it away from them, they won’t know who they are. The reason for this is because they haven’t put in any work to understand their motivations. Perhaps if they did they would come to understand that it doesn’t matter what they identify with, or what they think provides them value and worth. What really matters is the kindness and generosity they give to the world.
Professionally and personally I refused to play the game by observing what that entailed. I couldn’t do it anymore, and I took myself outside of it. It was the only way I could find to retain my individuality, and my dignity. I wasn’t about to do what so many of my peers had chosen to do, and that was to become their employer, to emulate bad behaviour and perpetuate the cycle of abuse and bullying that is prevalent in office environments and through the anonymity of the Internet.
What was more important to me was not what I owned, but how I chose to spend my life and the respect that I was determined to show to those who didn’t even deserve it. I was interested not in having an expensive car, but rather in being a decent person who showed compassion to those less fortunate.
Now I don’t always succeed. I make mistakes all the time. I don’t watch television, but I read. I’m aware of the world around me. One of the reasons I am a vegetarian, other than my profound love for animals, is that I do not believe that we’re more valuable and worthy of life. The human species has and continues to be responsible for atrocities that are entirely ego driven. Genocide, whether committed against human beings or animals is the same, and our ecosystem cannot and will not tolerate it for long.
One of our erroneous beliefs is that the human species can and probably will be responsible for the destruction of the planet. What an arrogant position to have. The Earth will heal itself from the damage that we have inflicted upon it, and that will be through disease or famine, or whatever it chooses; the Earth will rid itself of us before we get a chance to destroy it.
We’re simply not that special.