The Rat Race Routine: How Do We Escape It?

During the beginning of my senior year in high school, college was upon the horizon. I always knew I would eventually have to make a decision regarding furthering my education, but I repeatedly pushed the notion to the back of my consciousness. Because adolescence lasts forever, right?

     Swiftly, the idea of college became inescapable. Letters were arriving, college fairs occurring, and my classmates began to receive early action results. I was extremely conflicted. Despite wanting to obey the social clock, I simply knew I did not want to attend a university. I made the announcement to my friends, family, and coworkers: I was taking a gap year.

     I knew that was a safer statement opposed to, “I am not going at all.” That was a secret I chose to keep between me, myself, and I, or rather harbored in my subconscious.

     The reactions I received were of a baffled nature. I can recall only one person being in support of it, as she also wanted to take some time off. I was badgered with questions: “What are you going to do???!???” “Are you going to travel??” “Are you going to work…?” I never even considered an itinerary, but I stood strong in my choice.

      A particular conversation struck me. My then-manager, who had a calm, maternal demeanor, pulled me aside to rationalize. She did not automatically shut me down, which I appreciated. Curious as to why I made this shocking decision, she asked me for details. Still validating my feelings towards the matter, she made a point.

     “I have been working here for thirteen years in the same routine. I never went to school, but if I did, I would not be here right now. Is that what you want?”

     Frightened at a hypothetical mundane life, I responded, “No.”

     “You should just go. Try it out, and if you don’t like it, come back. But if you take time off, you will never leave.”

     I am unsure if she would have been correct, but the warning was enough to make me change course. With reluctance, I applied to a single school. If I got in, I would surrender to fate and go.

     I was granted admission. I continuously battled with the concept up until the last moment—literally. I ended up sending my deposit to reserve my enrollment on the very day it was due.

     As the summer slowly passed and August came a knockin’, I made the move, mentally kicking and screaming, of course.

     I had a fun freshman year. I did fairly well academically and socially. In retrospect, I can say I was happy, but I was not content. Stated in a previous essay, I transferred schools.

     The void was never filled. I recall several occasions in which I planned hypothetical solo trips, semesters off, and semesters abroad. I changed my major three times within a semester, and even considered switching schools again. I did not know what I wanted, but every inch of my being knew I needed difference.

     After another year of inner conflict, I decided to drop out of school completely. Despite all that was against it, I listened to my heart. Luckily, I am confident it was the first step in the right direction.

     Now, at 20 years old, I am back home with my family. I work full-time, five days a week. I genuinely enjoy my work environment and I am making decent money. Nonetheless, I’ll be the first to say it, I fucking hate contributing to society.

     I have never been a worker. I secured the bag in high school, sure. I had two jobs simultaneously. Although, it did not feel like a task because I was working with my best friends in both positions. I suppose I did not feel tied down. Nowadays, the concept of working for a living makes me nauseous.

     I refuse to accept that my soul is meant to work for this capitalistic world. I am fully aware that I am not the only one who feels this way. Most every time I bring up the topic, and state there is a “gaping hole in my being that I don’t even know where to begin identifying”, I am agreed with. If you do not relate, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

     I believe the origination of this seemingly unshakeable issue is money. Humans have gradually become forced to rely on it. The thing is, our brains were not programmed for it. We are not supposed to wake up, immediately go to work, sit and toil for eight hours a day, return to our families with exhaustion, and call it a life! That is not living, it is existing. I don’t know about you, reader, but I won’t settle for that.

     I feel as if humans are better equipped for sun-bathing, walking barefoot, adventuring, having genuine connection, creating, and eating raw fruits and vegetables. We should be catching a vibe, not a bag. Unfortunately, our species have become addicted to materialistic aspects, malnourishing food, and social media. We have been willingly trained to be zombies. There is no rebuttal against that.

     So, how do we transcend this?

     If I knew where to start, I would not be stuck on the issue. But alike to most everything, you have to begin somewhere.

     I perceive my fellow Homo sapiens to be at peak performance when they are creating. That production can be almost anything: poetry, paintings, upcycled clothing, movies, speeches, car parts, gaming videos, etc. I believe one of the most efficient ways to connect with our souls is to express it.

     I recall my stepdad telling me that everyone has a religion. His friend is a hard-working, smart, sophisticated man. He adores attending orchestras. He reports the music to overcome his entire body, with all of his attention fixated upon the glorious production. Classical music is his religion.

     I recently met a man who used to be a lawyer. He studied his arse off and worked tirelessly for decades. One day, he wanted to drop out of the rat race and follow his passion, playing the harp. He told me he “gave up the practice of law for the practice of music.” He knew it was a huge risk, but he loved it so much, he had to take it.

     Everyone has a passion, a calling, a religion. There is one thing that goes beyond any other activity in an individual’s life. For me, it is writing. When it comes to it, I never have to try to produce a piece. It effortlessly flows within my soul and onto a page, never feeling like a tedious task. I perceive it as a piece of my higher self. My spirit is easily contacted and visible when creating what I love. That is why I am here in the first place, writing this piece. It is the reason I dropped out of school, and why I can no longer run from the path I am meant to take.

     Could discovering religion be the starting point? Perhaps we must expose our souls to find exactly what they need. Maybe then can we meet ourselves and discover what our unique purposes are. They say if you do what you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.

     I still am unsure as to how I can completely defeat the race of the rat. Money is still ever prevalent in today’s society. Maybe I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Hopefully, we will one day return to trading cattle. Until then, at least I know how to navigate it a little more efficiently.

“If your head tells you one thing and your heart another, before you do anything, you should first decide whether you have a better head or a better heart.” – Marilyn vos Savant

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