Years ago, I used to work at a stuffy, boring insurance company. The pay was decent and the people I worked with made it tolerable, so I stayed with it for a few years. One of the rituals that helped each week go by was Friday Night Happy Hour at the restaurant across the parking lot.
It still amazes me when I recall some of the deep conversations my colleagues and I had over margaritas or Irish coffees. The relief of making it through another week without losing our souls and becoming corporate drones was almost palpable; we were comrades in the fight to maintain a sense of sanity while surviving pompous bosses, shrinking cubicles, rush orders, unending meetings, and mandatory overtime (it sounds like a walk in the park to me now, but not while I was living it).
Sure, we engaged in gossip. It’s protocol in pretty much every workplace. And speculation- who was sleeping with whom, and which unlucky soul was next on the chopping block? For about the first hour or so of our weekly gathering we’d munch on free appetizers, down a few beverages and soon the alcohol and the venting would begin to loosen us up. That’s when the conversation would turn to the future, and what we’d all be doing when we “got out”. We knew we were all just “doing time” until something better job-wise came along.
Sometimes we contemplated more than just our careers. One night the topic for discussion was whether we really did have control over our lives, or was it all predestined? This subject likely sprang from the frustrated sense of hopelessness people get when they want to change their situation, but fear the change. Fear of losing the security of that “devil you know”. Would working somewhere else be better, or would it be the same everywhere? Or perhaps worse?
Maybe we didn’t have it so bad. Or, maybe we’d be kicking ourselves for not leaving sooner!
“Everything in life is a trade-off. You can never have it all.”
I made this statement to my friends during one of those after-work powwows, and I still believe it is true. To have more freedom, you have to sacrifice some security. To have more security, you have to relinquish some freedom.
This principal pertains to many aspects of life- work, relationships, and society in general. If you want to be in a committed relationship, you give up being single. You take on a job that makes a good income, and end up spending a lot of time away from home. I am sure there are exceptions to these examples I’ve given, but just about every situation you can think of does involve some form of compromise.
And that’s as it should be. The universe strives for balance- yin/yang, light/dark, male/female. The result of seeking this balance in all things is a world of chaos, a constant shifting of energy. When you do hit that sweet spot, where everything is just falling into place- don’t get too comfortable. It won’t remain that way forever. Balance is a precarious thing.
I don’t mean to convey this is a negative way. In fact, the best thing you can do is embrace the positive and negative in each situation. It’s never going to be perfect, and that allows us to use compromise to our benefit. Negotiate with yourself- negotiate with the universe! When you decide what is really important to you in life, it makes it easier to focus on what you want for the end result and what you are willing to let go of.
I went on to work in various other companies, some were better, some were worse. I went into business for myself and REALLY learned what compromise and sacrifice meant. But I also found a satisfaction I never thought possible. I discovered that often, today’s compromise is tomorrow’s reward.
What do you think? Is it possible to “have it all”? Or is everything a trade-off?