This I Believe

Joseph - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 19, 2006

We live in a culture today which rewards material possession and material success. When we talk about a person we usually start by describing their title, their house, their car, or their spouse. In order to be accepted by society, we have taken our drive for “success” to extreme levels. I believe that our society takes life too seriously.

As a college student I see the beginnings of this everyday. I overhear fellow students worrying about how they’ll manage to finish two or three majors in four years so they can get the best jobs or about their tests they have to get A’s on to maintain their 4.0 grade point average. Sometimes I even hear people devising elaborate cheating schemes. It makes me wonder why people are willing to throw their ethics to the wind just to get a good grade.

I have a friend who I had several classes with throughout our first three years of college. She would study and study until she couldn’t study anymore and then worry about how hard a test was going to be. I’m still amazed she hasn’t given herself an ulcer or a heart attack yet. On the other hand, I would study enough to feel comfortable with the material and never really worry about how well I’d do. I knew that the grades would take care of themselves and weren’t the most important things in the world. In the end, usually our grades were very similar probably because of the extra pressure she put on herself. I kept trying to tell her that she was taking these tests too seriously and not enjoying life enough.

Now as I prepare to enter the working world in a few months, I dread having to work 50 or 60 hours per week just to keep a job. I often wonder when the 40 hour work week disappeared and when society gave up its free-time for the sake of having a bigger office and a bigger bank account. On a nearly daily basis, the news reports new corporate frauds committed to inflate earnings and grow wages and bonuses. Why can’t we give things an honest effort, take what we earn, and enjoy life with our loved ones regardless of how many zeros are in our bank accounts?

I believe the world would be a happier place if everybody would accept what they have earned and take time to live life rather than worry about being “successful.” We need to live our lives to the fullest because we each only have a short time here on Earth.