One of the biggest lies in the modern age is the idea that working hard will always yield results. In a way it’s a method of comforting ourselves — to confirm the idea that if you just try again and again that you will see results. It’s a motivational tool.
Unfortunately the universe doesn’t abide by any particular set of rules and putting the expectation of work guaranteeing results is actually detrimental in the long run.
I’m a first generation Canadian in my family. My family came over through Missionary sponsorship with $26 in their pockets. They first ended up in Hong Kong before travelling to Canada — they had learned to speak Cantonese to survive in Hong Kong and in the eighties they learned English to survive in Canada.
As the child of a family that basically restarted in Canada I’ve always understood my grandparents to be the hardest working people I know — and without the rewards they deserve. This is a group of immigrants that provided their children better lives while speaking minimal English (although my grandma does speak French) at the expense of leaving an established life with friends and jobs. They wanted better for their children and they managed to obtain it.
If I had been in their shoes I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it
The idea of surviving somewhere where I can’t understand others — where the culture is so different I had to beg the local butcher for scraps because the meat I ate was treated as bizarre and wrong, it gives me anxiety. You can survive most places these days when English is your native tongue. What if it wasn’t? What if English was my third or fourth language? That I take longer than most to figure out what I need to say because I have to translate the same sentence three or four times in my head only to forget to apply the correct grammar rules.
I wouldn’t be able to take the tangible skills I’ve used my whole life and abandon them for manual labour because I needed to pay bills while trying to relearn everything I knew in a different language.
I don’t know if I could deal with the PTSD of myself and my children whose lives have been stripped from them and replaced by this bizarre world that couldn’t treat me as people. A place where I was a novelty, a packaged representation of the exotic Orient.
I couldn’t do that.
My grandparents have struggled and worked harder than anyone I know. But they aren’t Millionaires, not even close. I’m not saying the effort they put in can have a monetary value but I definitely think the universe should reward them more than “you’d be more successful if you learned English faster” or “go back to your country.”
If I’m Supposed to Believe Pull Yourself up by your Bootstraps
I’d know a lot more successful people. I’m sad to say the majority of people around me suffer from millennial burnout. I know people who work eighty hour weeks, people with multiple jobs who can’t afford to rent in their hometowns. I know people who are afraid they’ll never move out even when they work so often they don’t know one day from the next.
But it’s never enough. So many people struggle their lives expecting a reward and often it’s not coming. That in itself is a problem but more than that it causes bitterness and expectancies of people’s worth. When people aren’t successful there’s an expectation for there to be a reason. Like the person in question has to be inadequate in some way instead of a product of circumstance.
We’re always looking for where people go wrong — where they screwed up to end up where they ended up. Maybe it’s not working on their craft soon enough or not networking properly. We can never say if that’s right or wrong because we can only assume those steps create results. But not doing the things we think we should’ve doesn’t guarantee the results we expect. And assuming so will only cause bitter feelings about a past that can’t be changed.
And it doesn’t explain the people that do take the “right steps.” What do we say about people that do all the things we think they should — following the rulebook to a tee but still unable to succeed the way they want to. There are factors outside of our control that affect everything — what if they met the right people but the right people lost the ability to help? What if they started early enough but their business became the Blockbuster? It’s not a personality defect — it’s just the way things turned out.
It doesn’t mean you should give up
It’s not all hopeless. It just means you don’t need to feel bad about ending up where you are. There’s nothing wrong with you and there’s nothing wrong with the choices you made. Maybe you could’ve done things differently but everyone could’ve. No successful person can say they’ve never made a decision that couldn’t have been better.
You can’t force yourself to adhere to rules because there’s no guarantee you’ll get the results you want. Try different things because life isn’t guaranteed. Do what you think is right because that’s the best you can do.