Friday, May 08, 2020

Why Liberal Arts Majors Fail in Life

This is an except from the book "How Not to Become a Millennial."  It discusses how there is no "easy way," just the "hard way" and "the REALLY hard way" (the latter of which disguises itself as "the easy way.") 

The price lazy people pay for choosing "the easy" way in life costs them nothing short of their lives.  Chasing stupid degrees.  Getting fat and believing they'll find love.  Never hitting the gym and thinking they'll find "da gurlz."  All 78 years of your average American's life expectancy is wasted hoping sitting on their ass will result in life success.  But it does not.  And this excerpt not only shows this through the story of two people, but hopefully prompts the reader (and anybody you share it with) to stop squandering their lives choosing the path of laziness.

"Allow me to tell you the tale of two people.

The first is about my Vietnamese buddy. He went to school for Electrical Engineering. Graduated with honors. And then proceeded to make gobs of money after college. Even during the financial crisis of 2008 he held onto his job, and though he didn’t receive any raises during that time, he did manage to buy a very nice house for ½ of what it was originally listed for two years earlier…for cash. Upon the economic recovery, his career continued to soar where he inevitably made the jump to management, making over $200,000 a year. He could retire today if he wanted to. The man is 43.

The other person is not my Vietnamese buddy. She is a weathered, middle-aged woman. She had two kids out of wedlock. She followed her dream of working with children and got her degree in Early Childhood Education. And though she did have a modicum of success in this career, she did not survive the recession so well, getting laid off due to budget cuts. She also unfortunately bought her dilapidated home at the peak of the bubble, inevitably having it fall into foreclosure. And during that time to make ends meet she tried to raise chickens, MLM schemes, inevitably having to work retail just to put food on the table. And this was just for one person as both her daughters had moved out of the home long ago. Today she is insolvent, perpetually angry, blames everything on men, naturally wants a bailout, and will have to work until she is dead. But not once did she ever think about learning to code, getting a degree in accounting, picking up a trade, or simply working hard. Her 58 year old life has been one of constantly seeking the easy way out.

These two stories have two drastically different endings.

My Vietnamese buddy will not only have lived an enjoyable life, but will have enjoyed the company of his wonderful wife and two nice kids. He’s nowhere near retirement, but is kicking around retiring around 55. He may work part-time at a golf course as something fun to do and get him out of the house. And he is already at the stage of buying property to build his dream-retirement home on. All in anticipation of the day he retires on a more than ample 401k balance.

My not-Vietnamese buddy is not so lucky. She will never retire. Will forever have to work. She will invariably have to go on some kind of government assistance. And though pretty at one time in her life, she is no more, almost guaranteeing she will be lonely in her final days. And yes, true to the stereotype, she has cats.

These drastically different results can trace their origins and causes all the way back to the beginning of their stories. Because while my Vietnamese buddy chose Electrical Engineering as a career, my not-Vietnamese buddy chose Early Childhood Education. And choosing these opposite forks in the road that early in their lives determined the drastically different trajectories their lives would take. But the lesson here is not that you should major in Electrical Engineering instead of Early Childhood Development. It’s the irony of what they both originally set out to achieve versus what ended up happening in the end. Not in terms of their careers. But in terms of effort.

My Vietnamese buddy set out to put forth the hard work and effort to make his life successful. Be it having a good father, his Vietnamese culture, or just intellectual honesty, he committed to doing what was necessary to succeed in life. In short, he committed to a path that was full of toil, effort, sacrifice, and work.

My not-Vietnamese buddy set out to do the complete opposite. Though under the euphemistic lie of “doing it for the children,” we all know she choose Early Childhood Education because she was lazy. And though she knew she was never going to make electrical engineer money, she was hoping to win that Dream Lottery of life and get paid enough money to live for the least amount of work expended. In short, she wanted an easy life.

But, if there was ever an example of punishing brutal irony, this was it. Because both of them got the complete opposite of what they set out to do.

My Vietnamese buddy thought he was committing to a hard life of calculus, physics, labor, toil, and headache-inducing thinking. Slaving away at an office, pouring over diagrams and schematics. And my not-Vietnamese buddy thought she was going to waltz through life with a laughably stupid degree and some government funding. But the life my Vietnamese buddy actually experienced was one of relative ease, smooth sailing, financial stability, and peace. I greatly (though admirably) envied him because he never worried once in his life about finding a job or poverty. By the same token, I absolutely did not envy the middle-aged woman at all because her life was one of constant struggle. And not just struggle but mental and psychological strife. Perpetually applying for jobs, getting kicked out of her home, knowing she was going to have to work until she died, and being delusional enough to blame it on an entire gender made me appreciate the comparatively modest struggles I had in my career. And when the accounting is all said and done, when you tally up who expended more calories of energy in their lives just trying to survive, the weathered, middle-aged woman easily spent twice the amount of energy than my Vietnamese buddy.

And this is the moral of the story – lazy people work twice as hard.

There are only two ways in life. The Hard Way and the Really Hard Way. There is no “easy way.” The “easy way” is just the Really Hard Way disguised to look easy. And you can either admit now that you either:

  1. Take your lumps up front, bite the bullet, and put your dues in now which will cost you less overall pain and energy in life,

  2. Do what most Millennials did and try to win the “Dream Lottery,” damning yourself to working twice, thrice, even four times as hard had you just studied a legit profession in the first place.

When you compare the two paths in life, it’s just not comparable.

The calories of energy you will spend choosing the Easy/Really Hard Way in life dwarf that of the Hard Way. Constantly applying for jobs, getting advanced degrees, volunteering in the hopes you find work, working extra hours, working a second job, applying for food stamps, applying for Obamacare, applying for section 8, finding daycare, hunting for safe and affordable housing, waiting for the bus, walking to the bus, working the night shift, and all the other taxing chores that come with choosing the “Easy Way” in life are a massive caloric drain on your life. And this says nothing of the tormenting mental, social, and psychological costs of choosing the “Easy Way.” The lack of stability, the lack of financial security, being cold and hungry, stress on the family, the stress on yourself, and above all else, the helplessness to do anything about it. All of that consumes an inordinate amount of both physical and psychological energy while ruining your ability to enjoy life at the same time. Had you just grew a pair early on and committed to a legitimate profession as a youth, you would have spared yourself an adulthood of hell.

But what this really boils down to is a matter of intelligence. Are you smart enough to choose the Hard Way which is the easiest, most logical, and most beneficial choice on the table? Are you smart enough to know that you are not going to “get lucky” and land a job with a Sociology degree? Or do you lack the intellectual courage and strength to admit life is going to be tough and it is best tackled with a hard-earned skill rather than a liberal arts philosophy of entitlement?

So do yourself a favor. Be lazy by not being lazy. Choose the hard way in life and avoid the fate 85% of Millennials suffer today. You will spend less energy over the course of your life working and you won’t be a bankrupt, pissed-off cat lady living off of food stamps when you’re old."

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Unknown said...

Great stuff. It's important to remember that investment in an education is just that - an investment. If you make a big investment in something with high entry barriers when very young like your Vietnamese buddy then that investment pays not only higher dividends but pays them for much longer. The amortization schedule is way better, in accounting terms.

Tony Trucano said...

This reminded me of a correlation I was contemplating.
How charismatic your college professor is exponentially inversely proportional to the amount of money you will make with your degree.

Bill said...

Thumbs Up!

Unknown said...

Yup. That's why I'm going into data science. When I retire from the Army in a few more years, I'll have a degree and several years' experience as a DBA, and I'll never worry about having a job again.

DocVinny said...

When we dropped my daughter off at college, we got to meet her roommates. One was the daughter of rich parents in Long Island, who turned up her nose at us. She was majoring in one of the fluffy subjects and unless she worked for daddy when she got out, was going to be unemployable. She probably won't have a lot of student debt because daddy wrote checks. Roommate number two was crazy, and the emotional stress of studying fluffy subjects while worrying about inconsequential things caused her to melt down and wash out. Roommate number three was studying something along the lines of comparative underwater lesbian basket weaving. She graduated but her degree qualifies her for nothing of consequence.

My daughter majored in business. As I understand it there are business degrees and there are business degrees. She took the hard courses. She worked hard for her grades. She now works for an upscale retail company, in a management role. Student debt is minimal as she worked her way through school.

She knew what she wanted, worked hard to get it, and because of that I see her having more in common with your engineering friend than the early childhood development major friend.

For her birthday this year I think I'm going to give her a copy of "Enjoy the Decline".

Anonymous said...

Your 58 year old female friend did not have the option to get a degree in engineering.
She never would have made it.
Most people can't.
Many people start out saying they will major in engineering, then they switch to something easier they can finish.

BriarRabbit said...

I once told my daughter MJ, the quickest way to do something is slowly. She scoffed. She was eight. "The quickest way is fast!"

A couple weeks after this, she was asked to go collect the eggs. On her way zooming out the back door I said, "Stop. Get a bucket or bowl.", but she was already halfway out the door - "I GOTTIT!"

I watched her walk from the coop with a shirt full of eggs. We had a lot of laying hens and she had a dozen if not two. I sat back down at the table.

On her way in the door, she was having trouble managing the door AND the eggs. I heard an egg hit the floor, a gasp, then a rapid-fire and overlapping sound of eggs hitting the floor and breaking.

Raw egg is hard to clean up. She got paper towels and quietly spent the next fifteen minutes cleaning up the yolky mess. During all this I said nary a word.

On her way by me, I said, "Hey Peanut."

"Yes Daddy?"

"What should you have taken the time to get?"

"A basket."

"So... what is the quickest way to do something?"

*Sighhhh* "Slowly."

Life. It will teach you.

AuricTech Shipyards said...

My grandmother had a knick-knack that said the following:

"The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."

That advice has served me well over the years.