“You’re so upwardly mobile!” Thanks, I reply in a choked tone from behind the gun muzzle parting my lips. No one enjoys forecasts of their future’s success or failure. Even go-getters don’t want a pile of looming expectations. Passing through college’s clutches is a dizzying self-evaluation process, which leads to the ultimate question: What’s growing up and what’s selling out?
Fired by ideals at day one, what lingers at day 1,460? After being weighed down by four years of theories and 14 years of debt, it feels good to be wanted, to be salaried. Resisting starts to seem immature, not noble.
Sometimes you can look around and see people preparing themselves to sell out. Today’s activist is tomorrow’s Whole Foods yuppie. These are the people talking anti-corporate game at night and taking marketing courses during the day. There are a thousand delusional justifications for completing tasks that prepare people for nine to five life and a condo. “You need the man’s tools to dismantle the machine.” In reality, they’re mid-transformation into tool-itude.
I have so much disdain for the young professional life. And yet I can see my route clearly towards it, and then to a land of lattes and white picket fences. And husbands. And French Riviera vacations. And Roth IRAs. And blonde babies. And everything I ever loathed. The answer is just don’t do it. But the whole world is setup to make you fall into these patterns. The track is a trap.
We need a good salary to pay school debt, finance families and even fulfill unspoken self-esteem issues. You can make smashing money doing morally sound jobs, but it’s undeniable that the time it takes to cut it in non-profit work is vastly larger than corporate spheres. Then you don’t have the time to enjoy the things you’re working for.
If only there were a litmus test to see if you’re selling out or simply growing up. Ah-ha, let’s try one:
Do you want…?
A) Power (Selling Out)
B) To empower (Growing Up)
Ann Taylor’s Loft is a totally sophisticated store for the contemporary woman.
A) Indeed! (Selling Out)
B) Cardigans equal death (Growing Up)
Burying a city in lava is a bad idea because…
A) It kills trees, which I am against because I recycle. (Growing Up)
B) On one hand it eliminates consumers, but when the lava cools it’s prime real estate for a mall. (Selling Out)
My iPod is…
A) Great for the commute (Growing Up)
B) Newer than yours (Selling out)
I wear ironed button-down shirts…
A) To work (Growing Up)
B) On Sundays (Selling Out)
I joined a gym to…
A) Stay fit and live longer (Growing Up)
B) Successful people are not chunky and Pilates fills a void in my live (Selling Out)
I can honestly say “selling out” to three of those questions. The gun in my mouth is actually a radar checkout gun. I’m scanning the barcode on my soul. Ninety cents plus tax.