I’ve been working for five hours in this unbearable heat. There’s no air conditioning in my room so every couple of minutes, I have to stop and fan myself with the notebook on my table. I’m tired and not even in the satisfying way. I just feel exploited. Almost like a slave that has been forced to work in the scorching sun for his dinner.
When I click on “Work History” on my laptop, my suspicion is confirmed. I’ve made only $5 in the five hours I’ve been working. That’s a dollar per hour. They say there are people that live on a dollar a day. Do they also work just as hard? Maybe they get paid one dollar only for a day’s work. I can feel their pain.
I take my phone so I can scroll through Instagram and escape my reality. There, I somehow end up on my ex-schoolmate Lindsey’s profile. She has pictures of herself having fun at the beach with her boyfriend. From her bio, I can see that she’s studying philosophy in Belgium.
She’s the girl that always used to copy my homework back in school. Now she’s living my dream life while I’m here feeling lost and directionless. I already quit college twice and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I’m studying an online course that nobody would have thought the top student in class was going to study. And I’m broke. Desperately in need of that $5 I’ve been making.
How did I end up here? I’ve always been a hard worker. I’ve always tried my best to do the right thing. I thought if I did all that I would have the best chances of being happy later in life.
When Lindsey and the rest of my “friends” went out clubbing on the weekends, I stayed home and finished my physics homework. When Monday came, they would talk about how they managed to drink so much that they blacked out even though they were underage. And they talked about all the guys they hooked up with, how hot and rich they were. Ever so often Lindsey would say she needed one of those morning-after pills because she wasn’t ready to have a baby. And I would think, “Oh my God, at that rate, your life is going to be more wrecked than the Titanic!” I might not have admitted it to myself at the time, but deep down I must have wished that her life would go wrong just so I could say, “I knew it!”
On the other hand, I was always the star of the class. I got the good grades. I always had my hand up like Lady Liberty whenever the teacher asked questions. They all said I would be a successful doctor one day. “Remember me when you get rich,” they would joke. “It’s one hundred percent discount for old schoolmates!”
They would all laugh if they saw me now. It turns out I was the Titanic all along. I was the one they were sure was going to be successful. I was the one they praised for being good and robust. What they didn’t know was that there was an iceberg in my path.
How could life be so unfair? I know, I know. That’s a stupid question to ask. Nobody promised me that I would have the best life if I worked hard and followed the rules. It’s just something that I assumed myself. It turns out good things happen to bad people. Fate is a coin toss. It doesn’t matter whether you were good or bad. How your life will turn out is still up to chance.
But sometimes I think it’s better to be a bad person and have good things happen to you than to be a good person and have to deal with the disappointment of your life becoming a shipwreck.
Everybody praises the stripper that managed to turn her life around and become a world-class musician (Hey Cardi B!). Have you ever seen anyone praise the A student that became an irrelevant poet making a dollar an hour?
As always, I find it too painful to keep scrolling through Lindsey’s profile. It’s making me too bitter. So, I go on to my next escape from reality: YouTube.
The first video YouTube recommends to is “Pregnant At 14 | My Story.” I click on it and allow myself to get lost in the story. Halfway through the video, I realize I’m picturing myself in her place. I’ve started to want her life.
I wish I was the one that ignored the rules and had fun while growing up. I wish I was the one that got a kid while I was a kid. I wish I was the one that managed to flip my scandalous life around and become a successful YouTuber.
It’s not only this girl that seems to be doing better than me despite getting pregnant at 14. Casey Neistat also got a kid when he was 17 and look at him now. Millions of dollars and millions of fans.
Maybe I lived my life wrong. Maybe I should have been the fun-loving rebel. I should have fooled around with boys. I should have gone out with friends on the weekends.
I should have skipped class to go to the mall. I should have bought cute little outfits to wear on dates. I should have spent evenings doing a bad job of putting on makeup. I should have gone on those dates and gotten pregnant 14.
Even if I didn’t take it that far, I should have allowed myself to be a child, to be a teen, to be young and reckless.
That way, I would either become successful or have something to blame my lack of success on.
I can’t take too long of a break, so I close down the YouTube window and reopen my work tab. Time to earn my next dollar.