9-to-5 Isn't the Dream Anymore

9-to-5 Isn’t the Dream Anymore

I have a dream. And it isn’t a 9-to-5.

To be honest, I don’t even know what it is. I know it’s to make money, but not at the sacrifice of my humanity. It’s to contribute to society, but not in the same way my parents do it. It’s to work hard, but not to exhaustion. It’s to not be stuck in the same place for 10 or 20 or 30 years. It’s to have more good days than bad days. To have more happiness and excitement than anxiety and stress. It’s to live a life with meaning, without being defined by what I do.

At the risk of sounding like every other post-teen with a cause, the predetermined life plan that society has mapped out for me is one that I won’t follow. The idea of spending life in an office whilst the sun sets on my aging body is an unnatural and repulsive one.  No, I simply won’t have it. I’d sooner sail to the Indian Ocean and beg the Sentinelese to let me join their tribe.

I’ll admit that I don’t know much. I’m young, and probably don’t have a grasp on how the world really runs. I don’t know what it’s like to have to support a family, or have a mortgage to pay off. But I can tell you what I see.

I see a cluster of burnt out 9-to-5ers whose lust for life has been depleted.  People whose time at work ruins their free time, because in their minds, both worlds are the same.

It’s a bitter concept, and I don’t think having no motivation to join these people is lazy or ugly. Having the emotional endurance to want more from life is beautiful. There has to be more out there than what we’ve been exposed to or presented with.  And our generation is blessed in the sense that we have the freedom to find it.

By no means am I writing to downplay the aspirations and accomplishments of the generations before me. I truly appreciate all that they’ve done, and I’m not implying that we millennials are smarter or better or deserve more than them. I’d be proud to achieve half of what my parents have over their lifetime. But the entire notion of “work” has changed.

We are living in this liminal stage where it isn’t yet socially acceptable for an adult to not have a full-time job, but with job scarcity on the rise, full-time work might not be attainable, even if we want it. The paradigm of work has been modernised, and we’re the living test puppets. Most contracts won’t last more than a year when they used to last 10, and that’s if you’re lucky. And once you’re a contractor, no longer do you have access to superannuation or a retirement fund. But we’re still expected to study courses that we can’t afford in search of jobs that simply aren’t there.

So we have to adapt.

Many viable platforms exist to showcase our ability to be creative, such as the social media world. Even though it can suck and be degrading, it’s begging for profitable advancements. Brands have been built, careers have been created and the world has been shaped. We should be grateful for it. It gives us the chance to back ourselves to survive the pandemonium that is modern society. And we get to do it on our own terms.

The truth is, I’m scared. I’m scared of turning into a jaded old man consumed by his work. Of losing all excitement in life. Of waking up in the morning for the sole purpose of a pay cheque, and knowing exactly what events are going to unfold throughout my day. Of living that same day five days per week, and being stuck in a routine that I can’t break free of. I’m scared of losing impulse.

And it’s okay to be scared, because the concept of youth having an expiration date is fucking terrifying.  But it’s an out-dated and stale notion. We all have to mature, but there shouldn’t be a point in our lives where enjoyment of life ceases.

So where do we go from here? Who knows. But I’d take an uncertain future over a monotonous guarantee.

Cover by Jordan Whitfield