We’re so completely surrounded by the version of reality that is the 9-to-5 life. Your friends, your high school mates, your work colleagues, your mom, your dad — they most likely all work within this construct.
It’s the normal thing to do. Work all week, get evenings and weekends off and three weeks of vacation per year. This is deeply, undeniably, fundamentally strange, when considered from the point of view of our capacities as a species.
We didn’t evolve to work a five-day 40+ hour week.
We’re not built specifically for 9-to-5 days.
The typical work and lifestyle we live isn’t universally mandated by…well, anything. It’s an arbitrary series of agreements that most people have gotten on board with. No more than that.
But, when you even hint at the fact that maybe it’s not the be all and end all, or that it’s not for you, you get a huge reaction. There’s a lot of peer pressure to not go there, to not admit that “this doesn’t work for me.”
And, fair enough, it works for some people. In fact, it works for a lot of people. That’s really great! I’m not trying to convince anyone that they shouldn’t like it. But some people just can’t do it. And they’re not “delicate flowers”, they’re not “lazy.” They’re…we’re wired differently.
The 9-to-5, the Matrix, this thing, this entity that we have all bought into in the West, isn’t objectively, unquestionably the right thing to do.
It’s not the thing we should all do.
It’s not the thing we have to all do.
Because we’re inherently very creative beings. We are not meant to be robots. We are not built, biologically and physiologically, to be automatons. (We know this to be true because the 9-to-5 has led us to be fat, unhealthy, sedentary, and depressed.)
There are lots of people, like me, who are screaming to move and create and do something else when we’re in an environment like that. And yet we’re told that we’re difficult or broken. Any suggestion that the system is the real issue gets shot down hard and fast.
Same thing goes for questioning any of the Matrix’s core components. Say, for example, that you can only get three weeks of vacation per year. That’s the “norm.” That’s the “standard.” That’s “acceptable.”
In what fucking universe?
On what planet is three weeks of time off per entire calendar gahddamn year healthy for a human brain and body?
The fact that we’ve all drunk that Kool-Aid makes me angry because this system was devised by people who wanted to extract as much work out of us as possible, and your brilliance is so much more than a resource to be extracted!
But because it’s been the norm for so long, we don’t question it.
Friends, it’s high time to fucking question it.
I don’t want to be just a vessel of resources to be extracted.
I don’t want these old white industrialists to continue to dictate how many days I have to work every year in order to survive.
I don’t want the system to dictate that I’m only legally entitled to 12 (unpaid) weeks for maternity leave. What kind of insanity is that? It’s so anti-human it boggles the mind.
And, if you take a second to really think about it, and start to see what life can be like outside the Matrix, things get very interesting very fast.
Because once you’re not intellectually beholden to that system anymore, you look back and think, “Three weeks of time off per year? Twelve weeks of maternity leave? Holy shit. I can’t unsee that.”
Even if you never, ever leave the 9-to-5 system, you at least know what’s being done to you. You can demand better. You can advocate for the system to change. But do not let it shape your life.
And I mean that literally — how you spend 40 hours a week is how you spend your life.