A public applause to a genuine person and why we need to change the way we perceive our agency
A valued coworker left the company recently. I was heartbroken to hear that someone who could legitimately make me (and just about everyone else) laugh amidst such utter corporate drudgery had decided to leave. However, I was fairly soon overcome with admiration and respect for someone to choose to live their values and live so truly authentically in the face of uncertainty. I’m not feeling upset, I’m feeling awe at this person’s nuanced, purposeful decision to leave a work life that was inducing so much emotional turmoil it was all-consuming at some points.
I take this act personally. No, not personally as an affront, but personally as a call to action. You see, I’m not living my values nor doing what is healthy for me emotionally or physically. I live in a similar condition to the aforementioned coworker. I have major depressive disorder, panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia. The depression has been with me my entire life with my earliest memories of suicidal ideations at five years. The anxiety manifested in a severe way when I was 14 and was unable to leave the house for about 18 weeks.
I’d thought the agoraphobia was gone. It’s been 20 years. In that time, I’ve finished high school with honors, finished three degrees with multiple awards and recognitions, and moved to a major metropolitan area where I had to give up reliance on a car. After getting into a PhD program didn’t work out, I had to get a “real job.” This is where working for an American corporation comes in. It’s important to note that in American capitalism, the sole responsibility of a corporation is to generate profit for stakeholders/shareholders. That means corporations (most of them) do the absolute minimum to adhere to labor laws and little to nothing else to ensure employee well-being. Sure, they give us the holiday party, endless free coffee, and maybe a softball team, but let’s be real. Have any of the decision makers ever seen Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
Here’s where we are in the United States: “You should not complain because others have it worse. Be grateful for these crumbs.” This rhetoric is the greedy wealthy is telling us we cannot both want better for ourselves AND better for others. Well, folks, this is bullsh*t. We’re fielding such a contradictory set of messages as Americans that we cannot suss out the truth anymore. The truth is this situation is not either/or, it is both/and. It is not one or the other. We can simultaneously work towards a better situation for ourselves and a better situation for others. That this is framed in an unresolvable dialectic is fueling emotional distress – the depression, the anxiety – among us. It’s not the only thing fueling this, but it is a major player.
More to come…