You’ve just graduated college and you’re excited to start the next chapter of your life. You’ve worked so hard for this — your time, money, and energy has gone into getting your degree, not to mention your blood, sweat, and tears. You’ve been preparing for your career for so long and you’re ready to go to work. When you’re hired for a position, you’re told about your benefits, salary, and what’s expected of you. What you’re not told is that accepting that job offer means dedicating your entire life to work.

Most jobs have a typical 40-hour week, with the occasional overtime and weekend hours. That’s roughly an eight-hour day. You go to work for eight hours, come home exhausted, and try to get some rest. However, your work’s not done — you also have to prepare for tomorrow’s daily grind: packing a lunch, picking out a presentable outfit to wear, and more. You’re suddenly faced with a harsh reality — work is sucking up all your free time.

What happened to the joy in life? What happened to spending time with family and friends, or even starting a family? What happened to spending time doing the things you enjoy, such as reading, watching your favorite TV show, or even just relaxing? 

The world we live in today stresses the importance of work. It’s all about making enough money to survive, and with rising costs in education, millennials and Gen Z will have to work until they’re too old to move just to pay off their student loans. 

Kids are told to choose “fulfilling” careers that make a decent yearly salary, such as careers in the STEM field. They’re discouraged from pursuing their passions. Maybe they want to be a singer or an artist, but they can’t. From a young age, many children are told they have to pursue science-centric professions or they’ll never have enough money to live comfortably. I’m not saying that all kids are passionate about the arts over STEM; I’m only saying that kids are encouraged to pursue high-paying careers such as ones in STEM fields rather than doing what they’re interested in. This causes a lot of people to end up in jobs they aren’t passionate about, thus decreasing the amount of joy they experience in life. 

When I was a little girl, guest speakers of STEM professions would come to my school and talk about how fun doing math and science was. But I didn’t want to be a scientist or a mathematician. I wanted to be a writer. Why wasn’t anyone encouraging me to be one? Because the pay wasn’t high enough. Because the job wasn’t “stable.”

Which leads me back to my main point — the lack of joy in life. Your entire life is dedicated to that one job, which you may not even enjoy but need in order to survive. No time to do what you really want to do. It’s hard to find love, unless you find it at work. No matter how you look at it, everything revolves around work. I’m not saying that there aren’t any people who enjoy their jobs, but even if you do enjoy your job, you can’t deny that your life revolves around it.

When will the cycle end? When will society stop pressuring people to work until they drop? 

I once saw a story about a woman who won $10 million. She quit her job the next day and spent her days painting. The sad truth is that if we didn’t have to work, we would be doing what actually brings us joy in life.

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