The Big City Isn’t Necessarily Where Dreams Come True
Back in the old days, people used to live in small villages, helping their family manage the farm, tend the chickens and milk the cows. It was a simple life, indeed, yet they were happy. Happy to breathe the fresh air the earth bore, happy to run freely amongst the fields, happy to see family and friends whenever they pleased.
This was the life they were raised to love….until the late 1800s hit.
Now if you don’t remember anything from your history class about that particular era, well, that’s when cities started to boom and people, from all walks of life, started to flock over. Jobs were plentiful and offered more money than what entire family businesses could make, so everyone immediately jumped on the bandwagon, including my parents.
They were excited not only because they would be able to support their family but they would also be able to gain the freedom they never had to do what they’ve always wanted to do. Instead of living the exact same slow-paced, rustic life as their parents and grandparents had, they’d live an extravagant life for themselves. One where they could freely explore their passions and afford a big house somewhere over the hills.
But as you know, thing didn’t flow that way.
People, after settling down in the city, began feeling swamped, day in and day out, at work. Doing tasks that felt meaningless and boring. Skipping dinner with loved ones to stay at the office longer. Neglecting values (relationships, happiness, honesty) they’d once believed in. Life was very different from what they had imagined and it made them increasingly unhappy, knowing that this wasn’t the life they wanted.
And sadly, many of us are stuck in this same exact cycle. We’re always flocking to where the highest paycheck is (the city), working our butts off to “buy” the freedom we need (for our future) to do what we truly want, only to realize a bit late that we’ve lost everything else.
And that sucks.
Because as of now, we’re the most depressed, the most lonely and the unhappiest bunch of people of all generations. We’ve somehow lost a huge part of ourselves and the meaning behind our lives for the sake of what? More money? For a future we can’t even guarantee will come true?
I wish I could’ve seen this all coming before I had chosen to work for a bigger company, before I became too caught up with the modern expectations of making more and more money. Because had I known what would’ve happened to my mood and mindset had I chosen to work in the city for a bigger paycheck, I would’ve immediately chosen a different path.
Because quite frankly, money wasn’t all that I desired. I realized I wanted other things too, like a healthy body, great conversations with great friends and a glowing confidence — things that can’t be bought with money but would still make me happy. I wanted to explore what it was that I would be insanely passionate about and to learn as much as I could. And so, I decided to do what felt right.
I quit my job to travel.
It was there, throughout my trip in Southeast Asia, when I realized how much I didn’t need in order to be happy. Even though I didn’t have much (I couldn’t afford to anyways), I felt I had more than what most people could ever have in their entire lifetime. Not in terms of tangible goods, but rather, through deep experiences — all of which have rewired the way I think.
I’ve stepped foot in bustling cities, walked along the quiet countryside, and even wandered off to places that was…literally in the middle of nowhere. And based on what I’ve seen and observed, people who live in better conditions, who earn a fatter paycheck, seem to be more stressed and depressed than their more underprivileged neighbors.
It drew me back to look at the American lifestyle with new eyes, and how we all seem to share the same struggle, of which we are constantly feeling more miserable and empty the more we work to earn. And while what I’m about to say next might not be entirely true, I think the underlying reason, the biggest culprit, of why we feel the way we do now is because of us — we’re too ambitious for the wrong reasons.
We often think money will save us from having to live a shitty life, when in reality, we’re already living it. We’re overworking ourselves so much and neglecting what’s most important to our state of mind that we end up feeling broken somehow, somewhere, and detached from the rest of the world, not at all realizing that it was our hunger for money that had been causing our misery in the first place.
So yes, while the city is great in the sense that you can earn more and attain greater opportunities to build a bright and rosy future, it’s not necessarily the place you might expect to make your dreams come true.
Because sometimes, what you have in front of you (your family, your friends, your dog) and within you (your thirst for learning, your passion for whatever) is all you need to be minimally content. It’s these important elements we should bring along with us on our journey to success that might suddenly help us understand that, perhaps, this is the dream we’ve always wanted. Not money.
Hi, been reading you for awhile, not commenting often.
First, your writing is getting better, much, I feel like I want more now,
to see what will happen next, if it were a book I, now, could not put it
down. Way to go.
One thing you do not mention, that I came to realize, for myself, is that
most people forget one of life’s greatest luxury, TIME.
When we don’t chase money anymore and chose to live for ourselves,
we have more time, we spend it as we wish, and enjoy the middle of
nowhere for what it is, something out of the busy tourist routes that
most people won’t ever see, but we did, slowly, taking it in for just… us.
You’re the first person to mention that my writing is getting better – thank you! I really take my time to think about what I want to say, even if I get a headache, but after hearing from you, it’s worth it. 🙂
And yes, you’re right! Time is our greatest luxury, so if we don’t spend it right, how are we going to feel good about ourselves 40 years, 50 years down the road? Maybe we should’ve listened to our grandparents, who’ve always told us to enjoy life and spend it on the things you love doing and the people you love hanging out with.
Rodrigo R. Cunha
I did enjoy your article and agree with you. I only traveled for 7 months just with my backpack around Southeast Asia, Japan and Australia and started by that time writing my own blog about that travel, it´s crazy the amount of time that we spend just on writing and choosing photos, sometimes I was all day doing that, and what started to be just something for my family and friends to enjoy become something for people that I didn´t know to see it, than the pressure to write nice and take good photos for this new audience. I finished what I proposed to do because I don´t like to quit but in the end I wasn´t enjoy it, so I do understand what your talking about, maybe someday i will start writing something about my experiences on hosting in couchsurfing
Cheers and keep going, it´s beautiful when we find something that we love to do
Doesn’t it get very addictive when something you once enjoyed doing becomes something you feel obligated to do (because of social pressures)? It’s a workaholic mentality – I think – but it’s good that you realized in the end that what you were doing felt wrong.
Just remember, whatever you love doing, is really for yourself. If others appreciate what you’ve done, well, that’s a bonus!
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