In a former life you might have been a goldfish. This should make you feel better about yourself because a goldfish is not a good thing to be. They are short-lived, skittish, and have a terrible memory. They also have a very boring sex life. What I’m trying to tell you is that even if you’re the dumbest, ugliest, most bum-lucked human that’s ever lived, you’re better off than a goldfish.
And what I’m trying to tell you, that is something that you should really make sure you understand: if you are not a goldfish, then you have absolutely no excuse in not doing something you find significant with your life.
Everyone has the potential for greatness; the greatest people in the world are just the ones who refused to be average. Most people remain average, or feel average, because they become too comfortable with their day-to-day lives – worse, they begin to accept the mediocre, and sometimes even begin to accept the unacceptable. One of the fastest ways for this to happen is simply participating in what nearly every one of us has to deal with at some point: the entry-level job. Entry level jobs, in most cases, will very rapidly break your spirit. They strip you of your self-importance, and refill you with the condescending looks of nearly every single customer that you serve. There are ways to determine if your entry level job is beginning to diminish your morale, and it is important for you to be sure that this isn’t happening.
Let us say that you work at a locally owned pizzeria. Let us also say that this establishment may not have the most diligent of dispositions for health codes; your shoes stick to the floor and customers finding dried food on their “clean” dishes is a norm. At first these conditions disgust you. You might even consider them grounds for resignation, but you stick with it because at this point in your life you have no better alternative. You deal with the grease stains that get onto your pants and sometimes burn your skin. You try to ignore the bad smells from the floor and the garbage, and maybe even other coworkers. You stay calm while you’re treated like an idiot by customers just because you’re on the other side of the counter. This is the job, and you have to do it. However, as time passes, the gross health violations begin to affect your psyche less and less. You suddenly have no quarrel with touching dishes off of which have just been eaten. You don’t try to wash the stains out of your pants anymore. Sometimes you’re rude back to customers that are throwing away years of anger-management progress because you forgot that they wanted cheese on their sandwich. You’ve quit noticing that your manager might not regularly bathe – you might have even stopped regularly bathing yourself.
But none of these things were the breaking point.
The breaking point happened while drinking a cup of coffee. You were stirring sugar into the black, caffeinated water while you while the place was slow and, in the midst of it, you turned the spoon just right to see a speck of dried tomato sauce stuck to it like a little parasitic. And you did nothing. A month ago you would have picked it off; three months ago you would have gotten a new spoon; six months ago you wouldn’t have been able to finish the cup. But today you didn’t do anything at all. This was your breaking point. This was the moment that you gave up. Starting to feel bad about yourself? Good. You’ve assimilated yourself with the lowest common denominator. You need to feel like the poorly mixed cocktail of grease and cola that clings to your feet and tries to hold you to the ground with every step you take if you’re ever going to improve your circumstances.
You are royalty of a kingdom of your own making, and it’s time that you start strengthening its economy. The first step is to wash the spoon. Now make fresh coffee. When you get off work, go straight home and take a shower. Don’t sit in your work clothes, wash them. Look for a better job, spend your free time working on the things you care about – even if you don’t feel like it. Go outside. Exercise. Get lost in a strange town and don’t worry about finding your way back until it starts getting dark and your phone might die. Eat something different. Wear nice clothes. Don’t be rude to the customers at work, even if they’re rude to you. It isn’t their fault you work here, and it probably isn’t their fault that they’re so rude – like Mr. T said, pity the fool. They don’t even know what they’re doing. Do the job right until you don’t have to do the job at all. And smile; now you know you won’t be here forever.