I was reading a long Captain Capitalism post about (essentially) forced indenture to a shitty employer and subsequently, when fed up with that life path, forced entrepreneurship simply for sanity’s sake. I’m a big Captain fan and were I in his shoes, would undoubtedly have similar life approaches and viewpoints. In the excellent post linked above, he notes the following drain that family/wife/kids have on choices:
Was he stupid enough to breed, marry, sign a mortgage, and get a car loan?
Was he stupid enough to have kids with a spending-addicted woman?
Or did his true education from the TYWITPCGD stick?
Because a man with a mortgage, kids, a car loan, and a wife can rarely become an entrepreneur. The man with such familial and financial liabilities is damned to a fate worse than the forced entrepreneur. He gets to suck it up, suffer the psychological torture and the unreliability of American employers.
Pretty cynical, and as a single man I see his point. But as one with mortgage, kids, a car loan, and a wife who does shop (but also has a great job and saves), I can say there’s a reason for it all.
Now I have to say that right now I’m in a pretty shitty mentality about work. It seems like every 4-6 years (my longest professional tenure has been 6 years) things start to change or dissolve or morale drops or structural changes or some other factors all contribute to my wanting to get the fuck out. That’s where I’m at right now at my job, right around 4 years. No amount of decent people you work with or even pay can overcome that feeling of dread that you feel when you wake up knowing you’re dealing with assholes and bullies and imbeciles. I expect it’s only a matter of time… And as a married man, am I locked into this existence forever? Am I cut out from making a living as an entrepreneur just because of this baggage? The answer to both questions is no.
Here’s what I live for and work for:
Not sure exact ages here (I’m not very good at guessing the age game), but somewhere about 1-1.5 years and 3-3.5 years. Love this pic. You can deal with a lot of bullshit if you’re supporting a family. And my bullshit is a lot easier to deal with than slinging steel or coal or sitting in a factory. So if the past generation dealt with their duties (and that’s what it is, a duty to your family) to successfully provide for their family than I have no fucking excuse why I can’t deal with a few jerks and heavy stress a few times a week for the tradeoff of living and supporting my family’s life.
The second part, entrepreneurship – while more difficult to take the risks if you have a stay-at-home wife or a lower paid spouse or 5 kids – can still can be done. A past coworker was the sole breadwinner for a family of 7 (five kids), and left the stable income we have at my current company to start/takeover a business. While risk was known, it is still risky to lose health and dental, rely on yourself to succeed or fail versus being handed a paycheck (while making your employer even more money). For me, my goal is two years to let corporate job go regardless if the corporate job is here or somewhere else.
Being a single dude misses out on the great riches of being a family man and having a wife you actually like and love. That’s why we sometimes suffer in areas where we aren’t always happy, so that our kids are…so the love we have for them can be cultivated and their childhoods have comfort and be easier than ours were. I’m lucky in that I have a great work-life balance and a nice income, and in that environment I can stew for a long time for the benefit of my family…while at the same time looking for that parachute out.
So Captain, I realize what yous say is true. The wisdom I’ve gained as I’m getting closer to 40 is seeing more and more you are correct – that corporate America, even smaller businesses, are all similar. Different shades of the same color even as we jump job to professional job (and I’m a lucky one). Only through working for ourselves can we really find both the motivation to succeed and a work environment/boss that we rarely have issues with. But as a parent, I never forget why we provide, and I see that nearly every day at some random moment or as we turn in for the day and I get an unfiltered hug and kiss and a genuine “I love you daddy!” That’s why we do it.