I have a really big bone to pick and it could be the #pregnancyhormones but it’s more likely the entitlement and perceptions of our society that has me a bit more than a little annoyed.
I was feeling blah about this weekend’s blog and had no ideas for potential topics. Until yesterday. My family and I were driving home from a weekend of ice fishing and with no radio service, I put on one of my favourite podcasts, The School of Greatness. The interview was with Tererai Trent.
If you don’t know who she is, I take great pride in bringing her onto your radar. She is a woman who grew up in a village in Zimbabwe. She was traded for a cow and married off at a young age. By 18, she had four children. She wasn’t allowed to go to school despite her intense hunger to learn. In her culture, men are the breadwinners and educated while women are expected to marry and carry children. Her husband was abusive and beat her for wanting an education. Her dreams? Get an undergrad, get a Masters, get a PhD. She’s a powerful speaker; eloquent and inspiring. Oprah Winfrey said Trent was her most favourite guest EVER to have been on her show.
Eventually Trent immigrated to the U.S. with her entire family to go to university. She didn’t delve deeper into this although I wish she had because I imagine the process and the funds she needed to move across the world was substantial. They settled in Oklahoma where she worked 3-4 jobs at a time while studying and going to classes for 18 hours a day. Her husband was deported for abuse and she raised their four children on her own while getting the education she had craved for years.
This woman, from a small village in Zimbabwe, had little odds of ever following her dreams. She had no money, an unsupportive husband, four children and no education. But she studied, learned, absorbed and has an attitude that would put developed countrypeople to shame. She persevered in a way I’ve never seen.
After crying through the interview, I looked at my husband with emotion radiating off me and said, “our society is so friggin’ entitled, we take everything we have for granted. Look at how many kids skip school when kids in Africa are desperate to learn. Look at how many people go to university without any real desire for further education but instead, just want to put off entering “the real world.” Look how many people blow their student loans on bars, booze and having fun. Look at the looks we get when we say, “I’m following my dreams” or “I’m living my dreams” or “I finally got my dream job.’”
Our society frowns on dreams. It’s not the millennials that have ruined everything; because we love to point the finger at hipsters and young people these days. It’s most people and the attitude that we need to put our head down, work for the man, pay the man and if we’re lucky, have a couple beers Friday after work before heading back to the grind on Monday.
Let’s change the way we think so we can change the way we live.
There seems to be very little support when someone says, “this is my dream. I want to do (fill in the blank).” People are quick to scoff and throw out the cons and why one shouldn’t pursue that particular dream. Rarely is the encouragement needed offered. We roll our eyes at the people trying to make their dreams come true.
So here we have a group of people wanting to make their dreams a reality. They’re the “delusional ones” as author Anita Moorjani calls them. They don’t want to grind from 8-6 Monday to Friday, missing out on time with their kids because they have deadlines to meet. They don’t want to be stuck in a job they hate. They don’t want to live another day under the rules of a company that would replace you in two days if you died or quit.
When I mentioned Life was too short to do a job you hate or be in a relationship that wasn’t fulfilling, the person stopped me mid-sentence and scoffed that I couldn’t talk about that because “I had it pretty good” in my life. But a few weeks later, that same person posted a viral letter on Facebook from a young, Australian woman who was dying and left behind some advice. Her advice: Life’s too short to do a job you hate or be in unfulfilling relationships (among many other nuggets).
Why do I need to be dying to have my words heard? Why do we need a terminal diagnosis or a tragic accident to see the value in life and the people in it? Why do we take education for granted? Why do we work so hard at the grocery store for 25 years but never strive to answer the call of the soul? Why do we look down on the people who are following their dreams and doing whatever they can to get there?
What the HELL is wrong with us?
If you’re in a developed country, say Canada or the US or most European nations, you are in the top 5% of the luckiest people on this big huge planet plummeting through space. You have access to clean water, education, fresh air, to walk most streets without fear, without the worry of a bomb falling on your head*. You have medicine, health care, government programs, grants, loans, safe housing, play grounds all available to you. If you are in a developed country there is NO reason why you can’t be doing exactly what you want (within reason, of course). There’s also no reason to be on welfare or social assistance. There’s no reason to be unemployed. We just don’t know what real hunger is: the burning desire to obtain something. Most people don’t know what hard work truly looks like. Most people aren’t willing to make the sacrifices Tererai Trent made to better herself, her kids and her community.
If a young mother with four kids from a f*cking village in Zimbabwe can make her dreams come true, BECAUSE SHE DID: she got her, undergrad, Masters and PhD! Now she’s building schools in Africa to provide education to thousands of women and CHANGING THE WORLD, then anyone in Canada can do the same. There’s literally no excuse.
We’re a pretty lazy society with the understanding that if we can’t take care of ourselves, the government and taxpayers will. There’s little incentive to persevere and work towards your goals. And why would you? We’ll just give you money instead: the lazy cushion to put dreams upon and not worry about. We don’t give you purpose.
And at the end of the day, that’s what all humans want: a PURPOSE.
Wanting purpose is where dreams are born. In the daydreaming of a better tomorrow, a dream is created. In the wake of a horrible circumstance, a dream is planted. In the solitude of the night, when we lay awake, dreams breath softly, kindling a slow fire of great hunger. We look where our talents and enjoyment lie and cross them with the desire for purpose and that’s where dreams are made.
Instead, we put our heads down, pulled into the current of the mundane, and go about our days. There’s the inbred entitlement holding us hostage and the banked desires simmering under the worry of bills, money, mortgages and day-to-day problems.
But imagine if everyone in the developed nations stopped taking their lives for granted? Imagine we all believed our lives were sacred and that we had a purpose that was bigger than ourselves? Imagine we were a united planet where we took care of each other and helped each other be the best versions of themselves? Imagine we all followed our dreams? Imagine how much better the world would be? There’d be less emphasis on money and greed and globalization and more focus on the Earth-Human relationship, love and connectedness. This isn’t a Utopian concept; it’s real and possible if we only get over ourselves and our unasked-for entitlements, answer the call of our Soul and work towards our purpose that betters us, our loved ones and our community, both locally and globally. Imagine that?! Now, let’s all take two minutes to think about something we could do today that will make tomorrow better. Maybe that’s a workout for yourself. Maybe that’s an email to your boss to discuss a raise or promotion. Maybe it’s discussing an art class you want to take with your spouse. Maybe it’s researching organizations you can donate to/volunteer with in underdeveloped countries. Maybe it’s teaching the next generation that the hustle and bustle of the mundane is not all there is to Life.
It only takes one person. Look at Tererai Trent. Look at the impact one woman has had. She thinks outside the box. She thinks bigger than herself and her circumstances. She follows her great hunger. So can you! What’s your great hunger?
-United we rise
*I know I’m generalizing a lot here. I know there’s many people who work their asses off for their families and their dreams. My amazing mother-in-law was one of them. She worked three jobs while going to university and raising EIGHT children on her own. There are phenomenal stories/people out there. But ON THE WHOLE, as a society and from my experience, perspective and socio-economic status in Canada, this is how I see it. And since it’s my blog I can shoot from the hip when I want too 😊