The feedback for my last article, The Fucked Up Truth, has been incredible. We had a pretty heated discussion on reddit and I received a couple of awesome emails. The first thing I want to say is thanks. Thanks for reading and thanks for speaking your mind. Without you, I’d be talking to myself which is hella boring and a bit weird.
Overall, it was an eye-opening experience and somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. I don’t care how secure you are in yourself or how few fucks you give, it’s still difficult to put yourself out there and read negative feedback. Despite that, it’s definitely worthwhile because it makes you a stronger person and it helps you learn from people with a different point of view.
And that’s why I’m writing this addendum, because I learned from everyone who shared an opinion and because I think part of my message was lost due to the controversial tone of the article.
I want to set the record straight. My goal with this addendum is to distill the original message down to it’s core truths, address some of the alternative views that were raised by readers, and talk about how people who can’t relate to me can still apply this message.
The Heart Of The Message
Yes, the title of the original article is inflammatory. Yes, the tone of the article challenges the reader. But, the underlying message of the article is true:
Truth: The world is full of amazing opportunities. (I’m not saying that ALL opportunities are equally accessible to ALL people, just that they exist.)
Truth: You have free will and can choose your path in life. (I understand that not everyone can change everything about their situation in life, but we can all choose how we react to our situation and what we do with the hand we are dealt.)
Truth: We have all been conditioned on some level to believe what we believe and these beliefs impact our decisions. It’s valuable to recognize this and use self reflection to understand the reasons why your life is the way it is, why you believe what you believe, and why you do what you do.
Truth: It is valuable to consider the available opportunities in life before choosing to live a certain way, especially if you are unhappy and don’t have a good reason to live that way.
Truth: People of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and life situations have the ability, through hard work and dedication, to create a plan and put that plan into action.
That is the message I wanted to get across. I wanted you to read the article and realize that there are great opportunities and understand that you are in control. Maybe you can’t relate with my life or my experiences, but there are examples of people in different situations, more similar to you, that have overcome obstacles and done amazing things.
Not What I Intended…
Several people got the wrong message from the article (though I can understand why they felt that way). I’d like to address some of these interpretations here.
1) That people should quit their job just because they are unhappy
Another variation of this is, “If you don’t love your job, you’re doing it wrong.” I want to be clear that this isn’t true. I have many loved ones who don’t like their jobs. They work so that they can support the lifestyle they want to live. Not liking your job is not a crime. For many people, the decision to work a job they don’t like is made so that they have the financial freedom to achieve other goals like raising a family or buying a nice car. This is totally cool if that’s what you value in life.
I wrote the article from my perspective and shared how the biggest source of unhappiness in my life was the fact that I was spending long hours at a job that was unfulfilling to me. Yes, if I was doing this for a greater good like raising a family, it might have been worth it because it would have had meaning. But I didn’t have a family. I was working an unfulfilling job for very superficial reasons. You can call me privileged, but there are a lot of people out there who can relate.
The point of sharing my story was to give an example of realizing that you made a mistake in life, choosing a new path, and going for it despite objections from people around you. Given the right circumstances, I could see myself taking a job that I don’t love, but I would be doing so because it was worth it for other reasons. The point is that you should understand why you are doing what you are doing, and if it doesn’t make sense, you should do whatever is in your power to change it, whether it’s your job or something else.
2) The only way to be happy is to do something crazy like travel the world
Another variation of this is “People living the standard American dream are lame.” Yes, I am choosing to travel the world because I have a very adventurous, curious personality. That doesn’t mean it’s right for you or that I think everyone who doesn’t travel is wasting their life. There are a lot of people in the world who are doing much more ‘normal’ things, who are probably more fulfilled and more successful than me. There are also people who live a much more extreme lifestyle. That’s what’s so awesome about humans, we are diverse. There are a million ways to find fulfillment. Everyone has a unique path. The point of the article was for YOU to understand what YOU value, and make sure YOU are living a life that reflects those values.
3) You have to be privileged to do awesome things
I recognize that not everyone can relate to me or my decisions. Actually, most people can’t relate to me including some of the most important people in my life. I think some readers focused on my privilege because my personal story was at the heart of this article. Let me say two things:
I think the article is enhanced by my personal story IF you are someone who can relate to it. If you can’t relate, my purpose was not to brag, make you feel bad, or make you think that what I wrote is only valuable to ‘someone of privilege’. If my story is un-relatable, please try your hardest to put it past you and focus instead on the core message that I laid out at the beginning of this article. The message itself is valuable for people from all walks of life.
The second thing I want to express is that while I am privileged with respect to some people, I am not with respect to others. Yes, I am white. Yes, I have a good family and a college education. Yes, I had a good job. Yes, I own a motorcycle and plan to travel the world. Here’s what I left out.
- I didn’t have someone to pay for my college, so I went out and joined the military to avoid going into massive debt. This wasn’t an easy thing to do. I literally sold 5 of the best years of my life to the government in exchange for a degree.
- I had a good job and made good money, but it didn’t make me happy. I shared this in the article, because a lot of people out there believe that if they could just get a good job that everything else would be okay. The point of me sharing my story is to tell people that that just isn’t true. For some people, it may be true, but not for everyone.
- I may own a motorcycle, but that’s because I don’t even own a car…what a loser I am. To top it off, the motorcycle I bought is used, 10 years old, and was in an accident before I bought.
- While I plan to travel the world, I am doing so by sleeping on couches, going to third world countries, camping, staying with friends, volunteering, freelance writing, etc. And, I spent 5 years saving my hard earned money while my friends bought fancy things because I knew I wanted to do this.
For Those Who Can’t Relate To Me
Everyone has a different story in life. Just because mine is different, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from this article.
1) If you have commitments like family, kids, or debt – You have much different challenges than I do, but I still believe you can benefit from: 1) Doing some self reflection, 2)Evaluating the opportunities that are available to you, and 3) Making changes that benefit you and the people that depend on you. I acknowledge the fact that it may be tougher for you to do these things because of your situation. I acknowledge the fact that you may have fewer opportunities due to your constraints. BUT, I don’t think that’s any reason to settle in areas of your life that are truly making you unhappy. If there is something you dream of doing, there are ways you can make it happen and there are plenty of examples of people you can learn from.
2) If you are less privileged than me – I mentored a 12 year old boy for almost 2 years when I lived in Washington DC. His parents both abandoned him at a young age (one of them was actually deported), and he was stuck living with his grandmother who didn’t speak much English. This kid had it tough and I admit that it would be a lot harder for him to do the things that I did in life. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
The most fascinating thing for a lot kids in his situation is not that they can’t do something with their life, it’s that they don’t even understand their options. They don’t know of the opportunities in the world. All they have ever seen are people in their life following the same repeated patterns. After an entire life of this, they start to think that their current lifestyle is the only option. One of the best things I think I did for this kid was to make him realize that there were other things out there and that he had a choice to be different. That’s the same message that I tried to get across with The Fucked Up Truth.
As a middle class white guy, I was conditioned to believe that the only option available to me was to got to college, get a job, and have kids. In a similar way, a struggling inner city kid surrounded by poor influences is conditioned to believe that people from his neighborhood can only survive by going on welfare, selling drugs, or working long hours for low wages. Both types of people, middle and low class, need a wake up call. Both types people need to realize that there are other options available to them BEFORE they can think about making a change and doing something different.
Making changes is HARD
Fighting your own conditioning is hard. It’s hard because you have to face your inner demons and question ideas that you’ve relied on your entire life. You can’t do this overnight on a whim. It took me years of struggle in different areas of my life to truly start feeling like my own person. It took me years to develop my own philosophy on life that works for me. It took me years to come up with my own path and get the courage to forsake a sure thing.
Thinking for yourself, being your own person, and making changes to better your life are not easy things to do. However, not many things in life that are valuable or meaningful are easy. Some of my best memories are of times when I struggled through a bad situation and came out on top. Just like those memories, the concepts in this article are difficult to implement but rewarding. But just like a lot of challenges, they aren’t for everyone.
Don’t take big changes lightly
If this hasn’t already become clear, you should take this process of self reflection and changing your life very seriously. Just because some guy on the internet quit his job, it doesn’t mean you should. It’s important to understand the consequences of any decision you make and plan accordingly. It’s also important to make sure that you are moving toward something fulfilling and not just moving away from something you hate.
I am in the process of writing an article about what I did and what you should do before you make a big change in your life, like leaving your job. If you want to read this article, please subscribe to the blog or follow me in a way that works for you. I will not be posting everything I write to r/howtonotgiveafuck.
Thanks again for taking the time to read this article. I hope this cleared up some of the arguments against the original Fucked Up Truth article.
I love hearing feedback and having a good discussion, so please comment away. As always, if you found this valuable, share it with your friends.