Do you ever waste an entire day daydreaming about what you would do if you won the lottery, but the thought of actually buying a ticket never entered your mind?
A big topic as it pertains to the direction of this country is the concept of Personal Responsibility. When good ol’ Mittens commented on the 47% of Americans who are nothing but deadbeats who refuse to contribute to this great society the conventional wisdom was that he MUST have meant the mostly Southern Republican states who have the biggest problems with not paying income taxes. Sadly he was talking about the elderly and the poor who have the pure audacity to not make enough money to be required to kick in.
Here’s where I got offended: The notion that almost half of this country is content with sitting around waiting for “ObamaBucks” is reprehensible and quite frankly that rhetoric has NO place in this country. Are there deadbeats out there milking SSI and making just enough money to live in their mom’s basement and go to the bar all day? Sure. Are there “welfare queens” who pump out another kid because it means an increase in their food stamps? Of course. Does that represent anything more than a small fraction of the people in this country? No. Hell No, in fact.
Storytime. I was on welfare for a short time when I was a young boy. My father worked in the Pittsburgh steel mills and in the 1980’s, most of them went away. We never were a “rich” family, but over the course of my childhood I think it’s fair to say that like most families we had some good years, and some bad years. During those bad years it never occurred to us that we were bad people, or not contributing, or milking the system. During the good years I was just pumped that I was able to get Dragon Warrior when it came out on the NES. The good news is that through hard work and with a little bit of help from some ReaganBucks, we got back on track. Sometimes that meant my dad working literally from 5am until 8pm on a construction site but we always managed to survive.
If you’ve known me for a while you know that I’ve been on my own since I graduated high school. There was no college fund, there was no big graduation party or “nest egg” waiting for me – There was a 1987 Ford Escort that I bought for $575 dollars at an auto auction, a job waiting tables at Bob Evans, and a few bucks from the college to come play baseball. I was basically homeless for a period while I figured out a way to scrape up money to transfer to Duquesne and finish my undergraduate degrees. Like I said – some good times, some bad times. At no point in that struggle did I think that I was a bad person, or make excuses – I just knew I had to work harder than those kids who got a car for a graduation present and who had parents who could afford to cover tuition for them. I didn’t resent them – I appreciated my work even more.
So I get pissed off when I hear people talk about things that they are going to do, but never do it. I’ve always been a “word is my bond” kind of person and thankfully it has served me really well in my life. I’m a great bullshitter, but I’m not going to lie to you, especially when it comes down to business. I realized that right around 2008 when the financial sector was collapsing and I knew that through my life experience, growth, and progress that I could do anything that I wanted to do and turn it into something that was successful. Something that worked for me. Would it be conformist? No – Conformity isn’t generally associated with my journey and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Conformists wait in line and pay full price. Conformists don’t get in when the event is sold out, and they don’t get ahead by following somebody else’s rules.
I used to call these useless people “I’m gonnas”. We all have friends like this. I’m gonna quit my job and get a better gig. I’m gonna go back to school. I’m gonna move out of this shithole. I’m gonna break up with him because I’m not happy. I’m gonna start taking personal responsibility and stop making excuses.
… But they never do. You come back 5 years later and they are still working at Wal-Mart. They are still renting a one-bedroom shithole that they can barely afford. They may have taken 2 or 3 classes at the community college, but they never committed – They just enrolled enough so that they could tell their family and friends, “Oh yeah, well I’m going to school! Look, I’m gonna change!”
… But they never will. They’ll make excuses. They can’t move. They don’t have a ride to the interview. They have nowhere to live. They don’t know the area.
Well the reality is that there are a lot of people making excuses who are just pussies. There are a lot of people who let a fear of failure paralyze them. They let fear keep them from taking risks, they let fear prevent them from searching for a better hand in life. Some of these people aren’t deadbeats – They are just scared.
I’m here to tell you not to be scared. If you would have told me 4 years ago that I’d be paying my mortgage by drinking Jagerbombs and singing “Summer of 69” I would have laughed right in your face – But here I am. I just came back from a great weekend of shows, networking with some of the top agencies and bands in the country, and they want to work with ME. Nobody did that for me, and nobody told me how to do it. I busted my ass, put myself in a position to learn and took a chance.
You can, too. You don’t have to keep waking up and hating life. Don’t hate who you are with, don’t hate where you work, don’t hate where you go to school, don’t hate where you live.
Most importantly, don’t hate yourself. This country is great because of YOU. YOU make this the greatest country in the world because it sure as hell isn’t our healthcare or education systems. Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure and you might fail, but step it the fuck up.
PS – This might be my favorite monologue from what rapidly became my favorite show on television. Watch it.