Entitlement has been one of the greatest sources of unhappiness in my life.
I did everything right. Got good grades in school, went to college, got good grades in college, and I was a morally upstanding citizen.
I studied English in college (which at one point in time was the go-to-degree because every employer wanted someone who could communicate, write and think clearly and critically. If I knew then what I knew now.) I even got a master’s degree.
I worked hard.
However, I’ve been “let go,” more times than I can count. “You’re doing a good job but…” they said, after promises of a promotion, long term employment, or a future with the organization. I was fired once, though.
I thought doing everything “right” entitled me to a lucrative job on the “treadmill of life” (school-work-marriage-kids-retire-die). I thought I took all the proper steps to achieve the American dream.
I had. I did. But now all I’m left with is the bitter resentment of failed dreams.
I wasn’t entirely wrong for feeling this way–entitled, I mean. If I were some other person, in some other era, like a male WASP–maybe things would have worked out for me the way I expected. The way I felt entitled to.
This is was the dream America sold me. I can have all the “stuff” I could ever want as long as I worked hard and did everything right.
I was angry because the first 28-29 years of my 33-year-old life were a lie. My thought processes, my hopes, and dreams, my expectations.
We were all sold a dream of varying measures–of course–depending on where you rank in the society of America.
Working hard hardly matters in America. Working hard (read: working a lot/three jobs/ too much) doesn’t always fulfill the dream. (And if it did, when would you have time to enjoy it?)
Instead, when you were born, when you graduated, what your degree is, your family’s socioeconomic status, race, skin color, national origin, ethnicity, native language, gender, sexual orientation–every checkbox on every form determines your future in this country.
America may call itself a land of opportunity, but we are all still subject to the ebb and flow of its political and economic climate. I cannot ignore these facts.
But this is NOT a post about “toxic masculinity,” the patriarchy, feminism, Affirmative Action, breaking glass ceilings, or politics of any sort.
This post is about the reality that America can’t keep up with its false promises.
False promises of economic success if you–alone, of course–pull yourself up by your bootstraps and work hard. Harder than everyone else. Win the competition in the game of life and work. That is the reality here in America.
But maybe we’re entitled for a reason. Forget the indoctrination of our youth. The “system” indoctrinates us with false hopes and dreams to keep us on the treadmill–to keep us fighting each other, to keep us blind, angry and ignorant of another way. Ignorant of how we can escape the cesspool. Entitlement to the American Dream is a longing.
As I watch people I love experience the same thing: do everything “right,” “righter” than me– and then have to take minimum wage jobs because they can’t find a decently paying position in their field; or take jobs that barely pay what they should for the amount of work required… I know there has to be a better way.
We shouldn’t be stressed out, anxiety-ridden, depressed or working ourselves to death–we should be able to live. Really live.
A person cannot live fully in body without good food, comfortable clothing, and warm shelter; and without freedom from excessive toil. Rest and recreation are also necessary to his physical life. One cannot live fully in mind wthout books and time to study them, without opportunity for travel and observation, or without intellectual companionship. To live fully in mind a person must have intellectual recreations, and must surround himself with all the objects of art and beauty he is capable of using and appreciating. To live fully in soul, a person must have love, and love is deneyed fullest expression by poverty.
Wallace Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich
That really hit me. It really made me reevaluate how I’d been living. Stressed, in debt. Working my a** off to no avail. And I’m not the only one. Many people are toiling excessively, and to what end?
I grew up in a metaphysical, Christian church that taught affirmations and denials. So when “The Secret,” came out by Rhonda Byrne in 2006, none of the principles were new to me.
I’ve studied, and am studying many “New Age” texts. New age texts that are based on very old principles (more on that another day). Now I’ve been studying a collection of short books by Wallace Wattles.
The underlying message is the same: we all have access to whatever we truly need: the universe provides/ God provides– if we only get our thoughts together. The point is that EVERYONE can have. We just don’t know how.
Entitlement, by itself, isn’t a problem. America has it written into our Declaration of Independence that we have a “right” to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” (Don’t get me started on how this wasn’t meant for certain groups…)
But I wouldn’t call “excessive toil” life, liberty or a pursuit of happiness. If we have to slave away, albeit paid meager wages, just to stay alive (food, clothes, a roof over our head–living paycheck to paycheck), how is that exercising our “right?”
The pursuit of happiness and life are separated in that phrase. We are pursuing life, not happiness on most days. Trying to stay alive, we say. Trying to make it. Trying to keep up.
But as I read over and over again, life doesn’t have to be this way. For anyone.
According to Wallace Wattles, what can work in our benefit can be in the benefit of everyone. We all can “level-up” together. If the universe has an infinite supply for all of us, why are we fighting each other instead of helping each other tap into it?
The visible supply is practically inexhaustable; and the invisible supply really IS inexaustable. Everything you see on earth is made from one original substance out of which all things proceed.
Wallace Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich
Our sense of entitlement to more exists because there really is more for each of us. We know deep down in our soul that a different way of life is available to us. America may have presented us with the ideal we strive for. But the American way (competition and consumerism) is not the way to achieve the dream.
Every one of these “New Age” books would have me change my mind, my thoughts, my perspective, my manner of thinking, and manner of being. Living the Law of Attraction (and more) means living a new life.
How has the American Dream treated you? How do you live differently?