As a young twenty-something, well-meaning family and mentors offered me the same cliché career advice that everyone gets in their youth.
Don’t choose a career based on money potential. Do something you enjoy.
Like most folks that age, I dutifully nodded in agreement and then disregarded the advice.
Twenty-five years later, after bouts of burnout and disillusion, I finally recognized the tired old wisdom of my youth was more than just refrigerator magnet philosophy.
Why did it take so long to figure out?
My story played out much like everyone else's. Mounds of advice for decades from trusted figures failed to convince me. I needed proof that money couldn’t buy happiness — the one maxim you can only learn through experience. …
A new president has taken office. QAnon groupies have sounded the retreat, feeling disillusioned after their grand conspiracy theory never came to pass, now lamenting how they could be so gullible.
The days of entitled fanatics storming government buildings has passed. We’re now entering the age of maturity, a golden age of personal responsibility, empathy, and perhaps even a bit of kindness. That’s my dream. We shall see.
No matter what direction our government takes, the world needs adults who reject selfishness, control their primal impulses, and exhibit humility. We need more grownups who demonstrate maturity — a quality that has little to do with age. It’s entirely possible to be a 70-year-old immature human being. …
When a man and woman become close friends, they enter into an unspoken pact — no sex. It ruins friendships.
Sarah and I were best friends until we broke that pact. For months, we had navigated the border of friend and lover, going on unofficial dates, touching each other like we were a honeymoon couple, and even sleeping in the same bed.
Despite our closeness, we never got to first base. We were just friends. Somehow, we managed to tiptoe around the point of no return until one night when we stampeded across it.
Neither of us called a timeout to ask the obvious — what does this mean? …
It seems I’m a fraud.
For years, I’ve advocated and even profited from preaching about the evils of distractions and enslaving yourself to the crisis news networks. Productive people don’t glue themselves to social media and cable news. They don’t stress over transitory bullshit. They put their heads down and get to work.
I felt justified in preaching as I had almost universally followed my own advice. That win-streak ended on January 6 when rioters stormed the capital. …
As a young twenty-something, I thought I’d take over the world, but by the time I hit 30, I had accepted a life of mediocrity.
There was no major disappointment, just one tiny setback after another. Each one signaled my brain. You‘re not cut out for this. You’re not meant for an extraordinary life.
That was my mindset for the next decade — an average guy who would never accomplish anything of value. With that belief crystallized, I landed the safest job I could find and drifted through life.
Being average felt comfortable and safe. I prided myself on being a normal dude who paid his bills and stayed out of the way — the kind of guy who works at a company for twenty years but you never learn his name. …
As the minutes waned on the remnants of 2020, I toasted to the imminent departure of a truly awful year.
It turned out, that the first week of January was merely a continuation of the hell, not a break from it. I should have expected it. The mere turning of a calendar hadn’t changed our circumstances, but it’s hard not to equate January 1 with some sort of wipe the slate clean bullshit.
Rather than lament the extension of the worst year on record, I’m feeling hopeful that come January 20th, the new year of 2021 will finally begin, and we will have taken 2020 out the trap door and beaten the shit of it. …
On my first day of work as a young upstart, a colleague pulled me into a conference room to warn me about the company’s unofficial rules.
“Do everything by the book,” he said. “Keep your mouth shut in meetings, and don’t volunteer any brilliant ideas unless you’re given explicit permission.”
The culture at this revered insurance company was one of subservience. A novel idea could land you on the boss’s shit list. Too many of them would get you fired.
But then, fraud hit.
The cultural distaste for creativity and new ideas led to technological inadequacies, leaving us vulnerable to unscrupulous employees. …
In the days leading up to the 9-11 attacks, east coast residents lived in a state of fear, but it wasn’t terrorism that caused us angst.
During the summer of 2001, a handful of shark attacks turned beachgoing into a life-risking adventure, according to mass media, even though such attacks caused only five fatalities the entire year.
The circus coverage dominated the headlines for months. It even warranted its own name: Summer of the Shark.
With a dearth of newsworthy stories that summer, the media latched onto anything sensational. The shark attack drama was all they could muster.
Man, I miss those days. …
Emma kissed me unexpectedly at a wine bar while three of her friends watched. I had been hoping for this moment but froze up at her surprise move.
Before it got awkward, one of her friends gave me the slightest of head nods towards Emma.
Ah, I’m supposed to kiss her back, I remembered. And so I did. A wild passionate romance followed, ending with a disastrous unpredictable breakup that took me years to understand.
Emma and I were distant coworkers at a famous hotel, but we flirted whenever our roles forced us to interact. …