Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Kidulthood

The cogs of the world are hurting. They have done as they were told, but they’re not getting the rewards they were promised. Instead they are replaced by their identical counterparts, paid too little for the work they do, and rarely picked for a permanent role in the industrial machine. The cog’s standard of living has gone down, while the workload and corresponding stress have gone up.

So why does the majority of people still sign up to be a cog? That is to say: meet the requirements of the factory, apply for a job, follow instructions, shut up, and make a living. I refuse to believe that people are willing to be ground up and discarded by the machine for today’s meager economic benefits. Especially now, when we’re living in an age with more opportunities to be financially independent than ever before. Our parents didn’t have many choices besides entering the belly of the mechanical beast. But we do.

Economic benefits alone cannot explain this behaviour. The larger part of why people merge with the industrial machine, is because they don’t want to think for themselves. To do so means to risk making a mistake. But following orders is risk-free. The responsibility has already been passed to the instructor.

The factory worker is really no different from a child in school. Act out in class or fail to memorise the textbooks and you will be expelled. Do exactly as your teacher says and you will be rewarded. The child, however, has an excuse for this behaviour. He is doing as he’s told because he has no responsibility of his own to give. That still belongs to mommy and daddy.

When the child becomes of age, he is finally given his responsibility. But, because it doesn’t come with a manual and our society has dropped the notion of ritual initiations, he doesn’t know what to do with it. Confused, he uses it in the only way that he has been taught. He gives it away to an authority figure for safekeeping. And there it stays until the adult matures.

Freedom of choice is too much to handle for an adult with child psychology. Like a child he is in need of a routine that gives him a sense of security in an ever changing world. So he willingly enters a golden cage that keeps out the creepy crawlies and heebie jeebies.

This situation eventually creates great anguish in the cogs and factory workers. Even though the cage provides safety and a sense of well being, there is a deep longing for freedom. For they know life’s greatest treasures lie outside of their prison. But they have grown so fond of it they dare not leave.

What makes the anguish great is that nobody is preventing the factory worker from leaving. The factory worker is at the same time prisoner and prison guard. Divided against himself he feels ashamed hoping for freedom, because he alone holds the key to his cage. Freedom has nothing to do with hope. Freedom is having the courage to take risks.

Adulthood doesn’t happen by itself.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach