April 20, 2013

Playing On Easy Mode

Many people have difficulty understanding why I'm so upset about failing to do things that are, admittedly, things that very, very few people ever manage to accomplish. By any normal measurement of accomplishment, I should be leading a happy, fulfilling life as some hardworking, trustworthy programmer in a faceless corporation. What people don't understand is that this is the bottom of the barrel for me. Judging accomplishment based on absolute values is ridiculous and poisonous. It breeds entitlement and greed. Accomplishment is relative, because everyone is living life on a different difficulty setting. I'm a straight, white male in one of the most progressive cities in the United States. If life was a game, this would be the lowest difficulty setting.

I realized from a very early age that I was extremely privileged. It was obvious to me that I had the prerequisite talent and intelligence to be very successful if I worked hard. I was also intensely aware of the struggles that my less fortunate friends were going through. I utterly despised at how entitled the rich acted, as if they were more deserving of their money than the people who were simply less fortunate. I realized, if I could get rich, I could fight the system from the inside. Besides, with the ridiculous safety net I had access to, I could take far more risks than normal. This served as a nice dream, but my concrete goals still stayed firmly within the realm of reality.

It was when I took that fateful internship at Microsoft that things began to change. I began to realize that simply by teaching myself how to follow instructions so I could get through this ridiculously broken school system, life was starting to hand me things on a silver platter. I suddenly realized that my current goal of getting a job at Microsoft wasn't actually an accomplishment. It was too easy. Coding came naturally to me, and thanks to having a father who was also a programmer due to living 10 minutes away from Microsoft HQ in Redmond, I was able to start learning at the young age of 14. The demand for software engineers would only continue to rise as I got older, ensuring that I would never have to worry about employment ever again.

It was sickening.

People would tell me how talented I was, fawn over how I would do things that other people would find incredibly difficult with ease. By the end of my second year in college, I had stopped attending classes. I would walk in, drop off my homework, and leave. I still maintained a 3.3 GPA even though I was only trying to ensure I passed my classes. College wasn't worth my time, because it was still the path of least resistance. If I am forced to take on a normal job after graduating, I will not have succeeded, I will have failed so spectacularly that the only thing I was ever able to accomplish was the least difficult thing I was required to do.

On the other hand, a black lesbian women born into poverty in Alabama managing to get an associate's degree out of a community college would be fucking amazing. Anyone who can manage that has already accomplished far more than I ever have. Every time someone tries to compliment me on the scant few things I have managed to do, I want to scream at them to look at all the less fortunate people in the world who have managed to do incredible things, to whom no one pays attention to. I have the utmost respect for someone who can pull themselves out of poverty, because it is extremely hard to do. Those are the people that we should be admiring, not a bunch of rich white guys who don't know what it's like to not be able to pay the bills.