Excellent People Do Not Settle

I find it impossible and inconceivable how some people actually like the shitty life they lead. There’s only one thing I’m sure of: those people enjoy complaining. Especially when they realize those around them share the same frustration and discontent. “I have a shitty life, you have a shitty life, we have a shitty life, life sucks. Let’s just die.” But complaining gets them nowhere and it’s completely unproductive.

This is what I observe. A lot of people believe their life sucks. At least, that’s what they verbalize. I don’t know if that’s what they want — that’s not what I want for myself.

Those who believe there’s such thing as a status quo have either: 1. made their choices and just complain because they can’t keep their mouth shut and are actually not that bad, or 2. they truly believe they have no chance of improving their lives and have thus internalized that’s how they need to keep living until death comes.

Personally, I never settled.

From the first day ever I joined a company to work, I felt a feeling of discomfort, strangeness, a deep conviction of how ridiculous, outdated and inappropriate that reality was. Work kept me from living.

I was always that person who questioned everything. Not necessarily with the bosses, but with coworkers, I’d observe the situations around me and I’d sit around and ruminate on them. When I spoke with coworkers or family members about it, I felt like an alien. It seemed that what I said and the topics I discussed, were an unattainable utopia for all of them. I’d say “This is not a way to live, there has to be an alternative”. To which they’d respond “That’s the way it is, it’s work … you just gotta conform.”

Somehow, this only made me more outraged. I always thought I deserved more. More time, more flexibility, more control, better conditions, better benefits. Questioning how things have always been was a natural way of thinking to me, just like it was natural to want to have control over my time and how I performed my tasks.

I didn’t want to get home at night and not have time to go to the gym or wind down. I didn’t want to hate Mondays and depressingly count the days until Fridays. I didn’t want to count the minutes until six o’clock even if there was nothing to do. I didn’t want to work overtime and be paid the same. I didn’t want to have children and only being able to see them for two hours a day. I didn’t want to be subservient to a boss who’d tell me when I could or I couldn’t leave. The reality is that it’s just not possible to be independent in some jobs. But it was possible for mine!

At some point, I began to feel like my own boss. I realized it made sense to go independent. Not as a freelancer, but to work full-time for a company whose values aligned with mine, a company whose relationship with its employees was built on trust instead of suspicion.

I started to see myself as a service. “I am here to help people and companies with my skills and wisdom and I deserve to be paid for it.” When you begin seeing yourself as a service, you brand yourself. You establish your philosophy, your conduct, your promotion, where your personal characteristics play an important part, making you unique.

The technological wonders of the twenty first century have proven themselves useful when we were all able to work remotely. Less costs for companies, more freedom and control for employees, a mutual increase of satisfaction. Then, I realized everything I wanted was at my disposal. All it took was a little bit of smart work to create a good online portfolio and a little bit of luck, and it was possible. Still, to everybody else — usually those who were older or more accommodated — I was nothing but a daydreamer. At one point, I stopped bringing out the topic, and I started writing about it.

It took me a few years to become aware of the life I could have.

When I started out as a designer, people would doubt my skills or character because of how mysterious and unreadable I am. But through the quality of my work and professionalism, I have always proved them wrong. Being young and a woman didn’t help. Specially then, I’d tremble if I had to mark my position or be straight up, as I’ve never dealt well with confrontation. However, these fears never stopped me from taking tough decisions. I do not regret having refused job offers, pay raises and being labeled as volatile for leaving a company after having been there for only two days, because I knew I’d burn out.

I always wanted to be someone who doesn’t lead a shitty life. Someone that does not complain of the life they lead. Because life is not meant to be shitty. Life is meant to be lived. I want to live and I believe it is possible to live on my terms, to decide how I manage my time and my work. Because I know at the end of the day, I’ll deliver the result and the result will be good or even better than everyone expected.

Perhaps I strive for excellence because I am excellent. Perhaps I am excellent because I strive for excellence. What I know is that one attracts the other, and the best to do is to aim high for ourselves, not settling for the way things are. That’s bullshit. Let’s not bury ourselves in our whinings and complainings, but on the sand of a beach, on a Tuesday morning. Because we have the possibility of being there.

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