The “Jim Trap.” Don’t pause your passions

History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen


Everyone remembers the show “The Office” right? Quirky comedy about a paper company that ran for years on NBC? Funny show, nothing too heavy happens, and certainly nothing that isn’t worked out in an episode or occasionally a season.

An incompetent boss remains in a management.
Guy eventually gets the girl.
Promotions are won, or loss but it’s fine either way.
The company teeters on the edge of going under, but doesn’t.

I watched the Office for many seasons, and enjoyed it, but it’s fantasy. Sometimes these things don’t work out for people in the corporate world, and it can be brutal.

The biggest fantasy that the show glosses over is one of the main characters of Jim.

When the show starts Jim is a college graduate and needs a job. A relateable situation for many twenty somethings. The thought is “College is over, time for the real world… but my major is useless or there are few positions in it available” Or instead of delving into a “career” maybe move back in with mom and dad and get a “job” and save for a little bit.

Either way, Jim embodies the intelligent good looking down on his luck guy when the job beings. He even says in the pilot “If I advance any higher, this would be my career. And if this were my career, I’d have to throw myself in front of a train.” So, he’s clear that this paper job is temporary until he can kick start his dream job.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately) Jim becomes one of the best salesmen at the job and is promoted several times and eventually becomes management. Never really fulfilling his passion. But it’s okay for Jim though. He gets his dream girl, get’s married, has kids and moves away off into the sunset. He has it all. For him it’s okay that he never perused what career he wanted because of his family.

Now, let’s go back to reality…Giving up on your dreams is hardly rewarded. Survival and maybe being economically stable are the only trade-offs for not following your dreams. Perusing a passion can lead you into an uncertain area, and a poor standard of living to start. For some people merely “living” works as an acceptable reason to “play it safe.” After all who wants to die?

Being 24, I see this scenario played out with many of my friends. Some have followed their passions and through thick and thin are riding it out. Some with great success and happiness, some are still grinding it.
Others have opted for the safe route. Live close or in the house that you grew up in, work close by, and wait until that elusive “Enter liberal art major here” job comes up.

A close friend of mine ran into this exact problem when he graduated. He wanted to be in law enforcement or health services but no jobs opened up and he needed to make a living. He found a job as a cashier for a food chain. It was okay…”for now” but in a whirlwind year of managers being fired and people quitting. He found himself promoted several times and became the manager of the store he was working at making decent money. But it was just a year, the money was good, there were no other job prospects, so he stuck at it. Eventually corporate people began to take notice of him and within another year he was running multiple branches. He moved out of his parents and got a nice condo in a nice community, and bought a nice new car.

3 years in he couldn’t take it anymore. He didn’t want to manage food chains. He wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and eventually found an EMT job. He could have stayed, and made more money, worked at the corporate headquarters, bought a nicer home and a better car for the next 30 years. He was good at it, and it paid the bills. But it wasn’t exciting, it wasn’t worth it.

Following your dreams isn’t easy. It’s terrifying (and as a post on Halloween how appropriate) but most people don’t. In even scarier cases people don’t have any dreams to follow.

Working a job that you hate but pays okay. Cuddling up with a Netflix binge at night, and partying your mind out on the weekends as your only “escape” isn’t a life worth living. It’s a live built for subtenancy, not fulfillment.

There is a reason men come home and drop from a heart attack at 48. It’s because they got caught up in the Jim Trap, but without the made for TV ending. Does anyone really want to grow up to be the branch regional manager of a Kohl’s? Or of an Applebees? (Hey if you do thought Kudos) If you go into a Kindergarten class and ask them what they want to be when they grow up. You get answers like “Teacher” “Doctor” “Police man” “Artist”  a job that helps people or one can be passionate about. Sometime down the road we beat those ideas out of you. Painting those ideas as “lofty,” urging “caution” and saying to “think realistically” these are said by adults whose life has beat them down. Just because they worked at Staples forever doesn’t mean you have to.

Don’t put your passions on pause. If traveling is your thing are you going wait and do it when your 40 with possibly a spouse and kids and a big job? Or are you going to do it in your 20’s with minimal responsibility?

The “Jim Trap” is a subtle one. It lets you lure yourself into believing a haphazard life is temporary but before you know it, you’re wrapped up in responsibility and then out of nowhere… your show is canceled”

Purple Penguins and Porn

History is the autobiography of a madman – Alexander Herzen


When I was in 2nd grade Santa Claus came to class. (No this is not a Christmas post) Needless to say the other kids and I were super excited. We got to grill him about which mall Santa was the “real” Santa and which ones was his helpers. We also got to tell him what we wanted for Christmas. I think I wanted an N64 that year, which was brand new at the time. We were all sitting at his feet as he sat down when he got to a girl in my class. Her name was Olivia and she didn’t look the most “feminine.” I had always felt sorry for her. Her little sister was friends with my sister who had long blonde hair and blue eyes. Olivia had a bull haircut (not sure by choice or not) and a deep voice (even for a 7 year old) Santa looked at her and said “And what would you like for Christmas little boy!?” Olivia paused and looked at him, got angry and growled “I’m a girl!”

Well needless to say there was an awkward pause in the room and we all knew this guy clearly wasn’t a real Santa Claus now because he couldn’t even figure out that the girl he was talking to was in fact a girl. I forget what happened next but I knew he “had to go” quickly thereafter. Olivia’s dad got a job in another state and I haven’t seen her since.

I look back at this story and have several thoughts about it.
1. The Santa probably stopped being a Santa shortly thereafter.
2. Easily could be top embarrassing moment for a kid.
3. Growling in a low voice only made the situation worse. Maybe I just imagine it for comic relief?

That was in 1997. In 2014 a Nebraska school district has attempted to make this story an impossibility. Which sounds good, right? Don’t assume student’s gender, use gender ambiguous language or something?  Well sort of. Instead of saying “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen” as I say many times a day, the district believes that calling their students “purple penguins” will dissuade this. O_o

So again, I get it. Calling a boy a girl or a girl a boy can be annoying to mortifying. And with the rise of transgendered/genderless minded kids this will provide less of a pressure to conform to some kind of gender binary system. Sure. All good for them. But what about all the other students who want to be boys or girls and want that reinforcement? I can’t imagine the authority that would decrease from calling my students that I had in Baltimore, “Purple penguins.” The laughing alone would waste so much instructional time. Not to mention the authority that worked so hard to gain would vanish. Students respond to strong authority figures not ones that coddles possible gender questions.

Not only that. But what about the students that enjoy personifying gender stereotypes. I played rough and did “traditional boy things” because I enjoyed being masculine and all the things that came with it. Just in the way my sisters enjoy wearing a pretty pink dresses because they enjoy being girls.

That reinforcement can be imperative for a sense of identity. Children need structure when their young. Routines, consistency, and expectations. Autonomy comes with age and if traditional gender ideas aren’t for them then that’s fine. Choice comes with being an adult though.

Speaking of adult choices… porn. Specifically porn hub. Who has unleashed a massive ad campaign. That’s right. Porn ads. Now whatever you think about porn, everyone can agree that it’s a personal choice. The porn hub ads, are pretty comical. Showing how they cater to every diverse interests and fetishes and how it’s okay to not have a relationship and trying to take shame away from it. And when researching the number of porn searches in America, it’s popularity can’t be explained away. I’m sure you can imagine how much wider their market would be when you erase the shame factor.

But there is a new… organization, maybe a movement? The FTND (Fight the New Drug) organization is one designating to fighting porn. Kind of reminds me of the anti-sex league in Orwell’s “1984” come to life. What is interesting about this group is it integrates anti-porn feminists and religious extremists, who are often at ends with each other. They’re coming together to inspire relationships and “educate” the world about the “awfulness” of porn.

pornhub-finalists-11-2014 lol

I’ve heard a lot of anti-porn points with little impressiveness. It’s addictive, it subjugates women, it’s immoral, it means your lonely. All with varying disagrees of truth, but all are not 100% accurate. They perpetuate these myths about porn.

1st myth: It’s addictive. Yeah it’s addictive. As addictive as fatty foods cigarettes, alcohol and anything else. I don’t think it’s a secret though. Only porn doesn’t make you fat, blacken your lungs, and destroy your liver.

2nd myth: It subjugates women. In some cases absolutely. I’ve heard of some fetishes that portray women in an awful light. However, women are the stars of the movies. Porn stars are most often females and are more numerous and more popular with the exceptions of Ron Jeremy or Peter North who are now pop culture icons. Some women own porn production studios and lots of autonomy in their business so sometimes it’s empowering.

3rd myth: It’s immoral. Sex is a taboo. I get it. It’s not as good as reading a peer reviewed science article. But in terms of immorality it’s pretty low.

4th myth: It means your lonely. Possibly, but as a porn hub ad notes that many couples use it to spice things up.

There’s definitely a problem with too much of anything, including porn. Being able to separate fantasy and reality is a key part of life. Most people can but some can’t. Just because a couple people can’t doesn’t mean we need to be a nanny for everyone. I’ve always believed and have seen that people that develop addictions for one thing would develop addictions for other things if exposed to them. If you can’t control yourself when you smoke, why can you when you drink?

I understand the want for people to call kids purple penguins and to end porn. There are good sides to that. Watching too much porn and incorrectly identifying children’s gender are all negatives. But have we gone too far with people’s personal choices? If you’re happy with your natural gender assignment, and see calling all kids “penguins” as a distraction and don’t care what you’re neighbor is looking at why should you care?

I’ve always ascribed to the position of do what you want as long as it doesn’t harm others. Don’t pay too much mind to what others are doing with their time, your own life should preoccupy you until you die.