All that matters is getting a good job…REALLY???

Chicago 1

By Kenneth Justice

I’ve always had a problem with men, I tend to put up with them cheating” she said

This past weekend in Chicago was surreal. Meeting with fellow bloggers at coffee shops as well as connecting with people I met along the journey; the weekend was filled with a lot of excitement…..but also a tad bit of sadness.

One particular young woman that I met at coffee was an accomplished woman. Multiple degrees from various Universities, a really good job, and a world traveler; on the outside this woman was the epitome of what so many parents hope their daughters will grow up to be……yet there was a hollowness in her  voice.

As we talked about life and our various experiences, I couldn’t help but sense that something was missing; why did I keep getting a vibe that sadness plagued her heart? It was after we’d talked for quite a while about a bunch of different innocuous things that she began to open up,

I’ve always had a problem with men. I date guys that don’t treat me right, I put up with them cheating on me and I don’t stand up to them” she said

It’s a story I’ve heard far too often and it’s always the type of thing that breaks my heart. There’s little point in even listing the details because by now nearly all of us know what the woman told me,

—) Parents divorced at a young age

—) A disconnect in the relationship she has with her father

—) A massive pressure from her family to pursue higher education, yet all that higher education never dealt with the emotional emptiness that she lives with day-after-day

Obviously there was more to her story but I’m not at liberty to recount anything else. Suffice to say, that young woman is hardly the only woman out there who puts up with men who treat her badly. I guess it was also interesting to me because earlier in the day I had sat with another young woman who could have taken the same path in life as this one…….but after a few minor brushes with men in high school who didn’t treat her very well; the young woman I met earlier in the day had made the proactive decision to not let men push her around.

Since I have two daughters I think about this a lot; raising my daughters with that self-confidence to carve their own way in the world and not get pushed around.

So much in our culture is designed around pursuing education and career. “All that matters is getting the best paying job” is what many of us grow up thinking.  And so, instead of focusing more of our energy on our emotional and spiritual self; we distract ourselves with school, tests, college, and earning money…….while all the time we are spiritually and emotionally starved. We are like the walking dead, tearing at the flesh of other humans trying to stay alive……yet entirely soulless.

If there is any observation I keep coming back to of Western Culture it is that I feel we are slowly losing our soul. Disconnectedness abounds. With more than 70% of all U.S. citizens on some type of prescription drug, when you factor in all the people who are addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol; its rather staggering to consider how many people are medicated.

It’s not that I’m implying that all medications are wrong. Not at all. But the simple fact of the matter is that so much of the medication is connected to people feeling lonely, sad, isolated, depressed, fill-in-the-blank.

We are a culture that has lost its way. We worked like hell during the 80’s and 90’s and then that damn housing bubble burst in 2008. It rocked our world. The price of gas went up, unemployment got out of control all across Europe and the Americas, people began waking up to the realization that all that they had put their hope in is no longer there; a stable economy is nothing more than the dreams of our past.

And so there are many people out there looking for purpose, passion and peace. The young woman I talked with was one of those people. She accomplished everything that the world told her to accomplish…..yet she still feels empty.

What would you have told the young woman? Is there a simple phrase to say to someone like her that makes all her sadness disappear in a momentary whisper?

We talked for a long time and I simply listened. At one point a couple tears trickled down her face as she talked about a past boyfriend. I asked her what she really wanted out of life and she said, “I’m not really sure anymore”.

Chicago was a great trip, and I look forward to Pittsburgh in two weekends. But for now, I’m left with a feeling of bitterness, I can’t change the world over night and that frustrates me.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my morning coffee,


Categories: Culture & Society

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73 replies

  1. Kenneth, you listened and you may never know what that time spent with you could mean or even change in her life. When I was still living with an abusive man, having a second set of eyes come into the situation was what it took to finally allow me to see what was going on. That’s all it took, but I had to be ready. Maybe she was ready for a new perspective and therefore talked to you about this. It’s more important that it happen for her than that you know it happened.

    I was hollow once. Everything changes; nothing dies.

  2. Not being able to change the world overnight frustrates and saddens me too. I see so much anger, hopelessness and suffering in the world and my little positive thinking blog and trying to live what I teach just don’t seem like enough. But I do believe if enough people realize life is more than money and the “stuff” It buys and show others there is another way the world will change. So I just keep chipping away at the negative and try to keep my little candle burning in the darkness, but it isn’t always easy.

  3. I don’t know what’s made Canada and the US so lost, but I do know that my experience with people is similar to yours. Perhaps it’s not knowing the Self that does it, society isn’t set up to teach people how to do that on a whole. How to ask questions and be responsible for our own journey is an art, and often too much work for those who want a quick fix pill … thanks for the good reading 🙂

  4. Even without the pressure for university degrees or the disconnected father, women who aren’t conventionally attractive face this all the time. The prejudice in favour of exterior over interior, form over substance makes many pretty cynical about whether men will ever buy the beauty within. And if they won’t, then no wonder they treat you badly (so you accept it).

    There’s not much we can do about men and the world our daughters will grow up in. I almost hope she is a workaholic who doesn’t want a life partner. Being relationship focused and putting my career second didn’t help me to have a better marriage with someone who wouldn’t cheat.

    • Nephila,

      Thank you so much for that perspective. You make a lot of good points and I like this last sentence, “being relationship focused and putting my career second didn’t help me to have a better marriage with someone who wouldn’t’ cheat”

      Well said

  5. You are changing the world with this blog, I believe, Kenneth.

  6. Someone recently mentioned to me that when things go bad think…plot twist. Life is giving you a plot twist. You are the author of your life…what are you writing next?

    My advise would be:

    Remember always the beauty within you. Find someone who sees it too, even if it means being alone for a while.

    Be willing to make mistakes but correct them…fast.

    Find yourself first…alone

    When you have done that, in the most detailed manner you can muster, describe the ideal relationship you can imagine.

    Continue enjoying “you” and start opening the door to include someone else in your life. Never compromise any of core beliefs. There are lots of beautiful people out there…you just might be looking in the wrong places.

    Live life passionately. When you have passion in your life, it invites more passion to it.

    Follow your heart…not your libido.

  7. KJ – unlike most of the world you listen until the conversation is safe enough for the person talking to go deeper. Most – me included – come away with just that sense something was missing. Never staying long enough for the other person to feel safe enough. Might be frustrating you cannot change the world in one day (or even seven – although that job title is already taken).

    As Mrs Locum says so wisely – you may never know. I think the rest of us get a good idea that you do and are. It’s only the “changers” who get frustrated. The rest just disconnect.

    • “its only the changers who get frustrated”

      I hope that is true…… but I don’t necessarily view myself as a ‘changer’…. simply as a person who thinks a lot, but thank you for the kind sentiments

    • I had all sorts of thoughts seeing this. And was left with one. This writing must change something – even if that something is just “me” the author. Dropping pebbles, maybe seeing little ripples, and never knowing where they go or what else they might become. It’s what changes the world. Kinda beautiful I think.

  8. Dear Kenneth,

    You are letting light come through you by listening and that is so inspirational. In fact your very blog and some others that focus on real authenticity have led me to morph my own writing and blog entirely. And now the conversations I have are changing, they are much more honest and full of soul. So you see, by being you you are helping us to have the courage to be us. Thank you for that, it is exactly what the world needs.

    I hear you about our culture. I really believe we need a massive shift to get back to love. And the problems we create from our ego will never be solved by ego. The only chance we have at finding solutions is to tap into our higher selves, our true nature, in order to get us back to spiritual and emotional health. I think that is true at the individual level as well as collectively. But it starts with one person showing up for another.

    You are so bringing it, my friend. And every time you do a subtle shift happens. I promise!

    Peace ~ Allison

    • Thank you Allison,

      “I really believe we need a massive shift to get back to love”

      So true….. lately I’ve been struggling to see that light at the end of the tunnel; it seems like our culture is on a one way trip downwards with no hope of turning the ship around…. 😦

    • It will take a lot of us coming together that’s for sure. A lot of us turning off crap TV and returning to the simple things like coffee and community. And keeping each other going when we feel overwhelmed. I’m for that. You are important.

  9. Ditto to that, Kenneth.

    (I’d like to write more, but can’t remember where I put an article I wrote 4 years ago on a similar subject which would save some time, so will just say ‘Ditto’).

  10. Wow, I can relate all too well to this young woman. A sad state of affairs indeed. And a huge reality unfortunately in the western world, and even the non-western world. A running after values that people hope will satisfy. Especially when it comes to the issues of the heart. I have heard before about girls that have healthy relationships with their fathers oftentimes will not run after men to find their worth, and even put up with disloyalty because they find a bit of their definition in that relationship maybe? Or because they don’t have a healthy and loving male relationship to compare it to? I don’t really know. What to say? And I guess we can share our ideas and thoughts, but really, just offer up a silent prayer. Some things (sorry, many things) are just out of our control.

    • Staci, yea….I felt really sad this morning posting the article. Honestly, I’ve written on this subject a lot of times in the past….. and this was hardly the first young woman who shared this type of story with me…. but lately it has been getting to me. Its SO sad to keep hearing about fathers who are failing their daughters 😦

  11. I think she’s at a scary point in her life. Assuming she has reached the realization that everything she has done she has done because it what was expected of her, she likely has no idea who she really is. Everything about her is really about the person other people want her to be. Finding out who she really is will likely be a long road.

    In high school, I was well convinced that all I wanted out of life was to write. Over the dinner table, this was a controversial topic. Writers didn’t usually make big dollars. I often told my father “I don’t care if I live in a box under a bridge, so long as I am happy.” This terrified my father. He’d tell me there is no way I’d be happy living in a box. I was always frustrated he didn’t understand the true meaning of my words. I didn’t and still don’t care how much money I make so long as I am happy. That isn’t to say having some extra money (and some extra time while we’re at it) wouldn’t be nice. I just feel like happiness should come first in life. Being with people who fill your life with positive energy and doing things you love is far more important than the dollars in my bank account.

    • I’m sure you realize you were the one I was referencing who I said seems like you ‘don’t let men push you around’…. it was such a stark contrast meeting you and then meeting her. And I have to believe that despite your dad’s religious fervor, I think that part of why you are so much stronger than that other young woman is because you probably have a much more positive relationship with your father.

    • I did. I mean, my parents are only human. For all their faults, they remain together to this day. It wasn’t a benefit I could fully understand as a child, but I think that stability gave me confidence in my own decisions on some level. While I certainly didn’t like myself for a long time, I also didn’t doubt my own opinions very often.

      It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized how lucky I was to have grown up in a relatively stable environment.

    • I’m working on the whole living beyond others’ expectations right now. It’s not easy when it’s all you know. A few years ago a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while, instead of asking me “how are you” or “how’ve you been?”, asked me: “What’s your passion these days?” I couldn’t answer the question: and that scared me.

      Fast forward to today and I hope to find the answer. It’s taking a lot of time and deliberate thought, but I’m getting there.

  12. You ARE changing the World. One conversation at a time, you are making a difference. I was that woman a few years ago. My husband abandoned me and four children and left us homeless. But with faith and a strong determination to change our lives and show my kids that trials DON’T have to define us and ruin our lives, I started over. 7 yrs later, we have achieved everything that I set out to do. I have dated several men over the past 7 yrs, but never settled down because I learned that I deserve to be loved and respected. Last October, I met the man that I had been holding out for, and he was worth the wait.
    The thing I would like to tell that woman is to find the Lord. Give him her heart, before she even attempts to give it to ANY man. Let him fill her soul with purpose and meaning, and then when a good man comes along, she will love herself enough to accept his kindness.

    • I’m so glad that you haven’t let your ex ruin the rest of your life. Its nice to hear a positive story from someone who has gone through something as tough as you have had to deal with.

  13. What I always take away from your posts is that I need to be willing to listen to people, not hear them, not interject, not just wait until I can speak next, but really listen. It’s amazing what I learn when I stop talking.

  14. I remember being 12 and though I was good at learning I sucked at language. But Then I already was missing something and My dad getting a heart attack showed me that what you said. Missing the connection. Not so much with my dad but with people in general.

    I decided to learn in life through life. and try to build connections. but when every one is worried about the future and money it became very hard.

    Maybe in a way I can relate though I never had any degrees or diploma’s, “I am man and I live” is all that comes to mind.
    She should know not all has been in vein. She can and should stand tall and should only know.

    “We change for no one but ourselves”

    As for the world. We listen. We do all we can. To make someone smile just for a second. And we can take that with us into tomorrow.

  15. I had a sad conversation yesterday with a woman about why young women have affairs with married men. It seems so obvious to the entire world that they are punishing themselves for feeling unworthy of an honest and healthy relationship. They become addicted to the pain. To wanting to “win” him over someday. Your accomplished young woman is avoiding finding out why she is only safe as the “victim”. To grow past this attraction she has for creeps is all about how she copes with her own fears. She probably finds much security in making her own money. Trusting a man with character will be hard work for her. At least she knows what to expect from a slime ball. She will have to match the character of such a worthy man.

  16. Learning to love one person at a time.

  17. In regards to married men cheating on their wives, someone once told me that if a married man treated his wife the way he treated his mistress, there would be less cheating going on.

    Regards and good will blogging.

  18. This isn’t something recent. As a card carrying old fart, I can assure you it’s been going on awhile. This is a story as old as humanity itself, or at least urban humanity, I’m afraid. I imagine it’s why people invented religion.

  19. There’s something to be said about teaching your daughters not to depend on a man for happiness or financial support, there’s a valid argument in teaching women to stand up for themselves. My mother was pushed around by men and she was determined I wouldn’t be the same way. The only problem was that for all that my mother instilled in me, I had the hardest time trying to find a man that was comfortable with me making more money, being more educated, handling stress more effectively and not backing down when they wanted to assert control. Fast forward through many broken and dysfunctional relationships and I have come to the realization that I am now afraid to open up and let any man in fully, to do so feels like I am giving them control over me. I have been raised to be self-sufficient and that makes it hard to trust my husband, makes it hard to give over any responsibility. All my past (failed) relationships took that valid and important lesson my mother taught me and turned it into a preconceived notion that men don’t tolerate or love women like me. Teaching daughters to be independent, well-rounded and assertive is a double-edged sword if we don’t teach our sons how to intereact in a society no longer ruled by a patriarchy-favored structure.

  20. You are right when you say that part on the economics. I constantly feel the pressure to work hard just to avoid losing my job. Most of the times I end up not having the energy to dedicate myself to my passions and projects. I don’t know what that girl could do but if she feels empty shouldn’t she find something to ignite her passion? Some people respond to volunteering, others to a good hobby. It is sad not to have a passion in life. 😦

  21. Western Culture doesn’t believe in the soul anymore.

  22. I too can relate to this woman. I grew up with similar circumstances. Have made something of my life. By society’s standards, I am successful and doing well with my life. But like her, have a bit of emptiness inside because I have yet to find the right person to share it with. Most of the time, you can just go about not thinking about it – filling your time with hobbies, friends, travel, my kids, work, life in general. But sometimes, you have to question whether all this ambition and drive it took to get where I am was worth it. What’s the point in having money, houses, cars, and the ability to travel if you’re the one all alone at the end of the day?

    • I am often alone, but very very rarely lonely. I’m comfortable with my own company and find it a little sad to hear people (men & women) yearn for a partner or someone to share their life as though their life in incomplete (without a partner).

      I think you’ve got to love yourself and be happy within yourself (before you can he happy with someone else Some of us are just born to be solitary.

  23. I sadly believe that women would build the world by destroying them self and men abuse their honesty and love; you can’t hold on forever on what hurt our life. I’ve notice that kindness hearts felt the most pain.:(
    Getting a good job and not relying on others is definitely one of the top priorities, but Happiness feeds our soul.
    Great post, as usual!

  24. As parents we’ve also worked hard to make sure our daughter has a strong sense of her own self-worth, that she won’t be interested in men who would treat her badly. I think a lot of it does depend on childhood experiences and parenting- things that can’t just be fixed as an adult. Not that there’s no hope- I think many women wake up as they get older, learn to protect themselves; but it’s not easy. This is a sad post 😦 So many people are wounded by their childhoods, and they never really get over it. Material success does nothing to fix that hole that you’re talking about.

  25. This world has always offered transitory wealth and happiness…as I have said, loading up on things of this world is likened to that old Wall Street warning: “Avoid buying an ever increasing portion of an ever decreasing market.”

    What possessions can we take from this world to the next? In fact we leave behind all that we work so hard for in large part to those who have done nothing to earn nor deserve it. King Solomon discusses this conundrum in Ecclesiastes…

    Spiritual treasures are those which we need to pursue…

    Steve Pejay

  26. “Should” is a bully with a big voice. Sometimes it becomes difficult to hear your own over all of the noise.

  27. “So much in our culture is designed around pursuing education and career. “All that matters is getting the best paying job” is what many of us grow up thinking. And so, instead of focusing more of our energy on our emotional and spiritual self; we distract ourselves with school, tests, college, and earning money…….while all the time we are spiritually and emotionally starved. We are like the walking dead, tearing at the flesh of other humans trying to stay alive……yet entirely soulless.”

    This is very true. It seems that people have forgotten what matters. My life now has meaning because I now have goals. What a person chooses to spend their money on is more relevant. I know that I will never have enough money because I will only have more causes that I want to give it to. How I feel with what little I am able to give of time and money is what makes me want to live.

  28. “We are like the walking dead, tearing at the flesh of other humans trying to stay alive……yet entirely soulless.” Very well stated!

  29. We all have different tolerance levels. You have to reach all the way down to that point of no return before you pick yourself up and make the sadness go away.

  30. People are seeking the wrong things in life. When we seek the things that we can’t take with us, we will find disappointment and misery. Sure we may be happy for a moment, but that that moment will soon pass and we will be left with nothing. Money, homes, jobs and dead end relationships bring lasting joy to no one. We must find and focus on what’s truly important. Raising a family, giving to others and making ourselves available to help others as needed. Love, life and happiness. 🙂 What’s the first one? Love. It’s the first because it’s the most important.

  31. “But for now, I’m left with a feeling of bitterness, I can’t change the world over night and that frustrates me.”

    Circumstances like these remind me of

    1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

  32. Kenneth, you asked for a bit of advice and that’s all I have is a “bit.” It is this: get your priorities right. Put your life and goals into priorities and most of us will find that “great jobs” and “money” will never be at the top.

  33. Happy we didn’t have snow while you were here:) Girls are taught to be subservient by society, if not by their families. You have to constantly tell your daughters to NEVER be a doormat. To NEVER settle for ANYTHING. To NEVER put up with excuses. To NEVER make their OWN excuses. To NEVER put up with another person’s BAD behavior. NEVER EVER. That’s what I taught my daughter and it worked. She never putS up with ANYTHING. When she was younger and guys hit on her in bars or at parties she went over to their girlfriends and told them what their boyfriends were doing. When someone grabbed her she took off her shoe (heels) and beat him with it, immediately. She’s tough. She doesn’t put up with things. She has self respect and knows what she wants in life. You don’t mess with her. You have to tell you kids over and over again and you need to do this with your sons, as well. It’s hard with boys because society gives them the right to do anything they want, so telling them how to act, when they can see what other males are doing is DIFFICULT, to say the least. I used to tell the girls in the high school class I taught, to NEVER sit home WAITING for their boyfriends to call. If the boys were out…the girls should go out as well. I pounded that into their heads. Your friends come first. If the boy’s are serious and not just all about themselves, they will treat you properly. The boys in class didn’t like it but they agreed that they wouldn’t sit home waiting for they girlfriends to call either. Hey, fair is fair. The DOUBLE STANDARD is alive and well. If you don’t want your daughters to be treated like garbage you have to make sure they understand the rules.

  34. You did the right thing – someone listening is healing! Your first task is to raise your daughters to be confident and independent, and to let them know that they are loved by their dad, no matter what. From an almost retired psychologist.

  35. I feel ya, buddy! I hear this kind of thing so much and I’m like, “Really?!” – the wifey

  36. Slowly losing our souls? Interesting term. Jesus ask if He will find faith on the earth when He returns. Maybe not. VW

  37. There’s a billion things I want to say to this but I think most of it will end up in an email. I will say this – you did fine by her by listening. Sometimes it just helps to know that someone is listening. I know for myself I’m still just beginning my self-discovery journey. It is really hard to know how to define happiness – it’s so different for everyone. There are so many voices telling us what happiness is and how to be this or that it’s very difficult to find your own. I know I can relate to that young lady is so so many ways including being far to tolerant and now not really knowing what I want. I do think I’m a little closer to finding out what I want but it’s getting there that will be so tough. I hope she is able to find out what steps will help her to get her to where she wants to be…she’s smart enough she just has to believe in herself enough. It’ll happen. You can’t change the world overnight Kenneth, but just being in it, raising two awesome kids and being a good friend are amazing steps in helping change the world. Have faith – you are in your own way having a positive influence. 🙂

  38. Just started reading your blog. This is a great post and really makes me think what I would say to her. I think just being her friend and listening would help her. If you help one person, you can slowly help others. We all can.

  39. No magic phrase, Kenneth…just an old adage…”to thine own self be true”… We all have a myriad of problems to solve, storms to weather, and epiphanies to reach…before we leave this Earth…tell your girls…and ALL YOUR READERS… That life is SHORT! And the ONLY PERSON we are TRULY ACCOUNTABLE TO… Is OURSELF!

  40. This woman who feels empty must love herself and surround herself with caring passionate people.

  41. My 15 yo daughter has been getting some unwanted attention from a boy at school. She told him to stop but the behavior continued. She went and talked to an adult at school about it and they scheduled a meeting. My daughter wanted it to just be her, the boy and the school adult but it turned into a much bigger production with parents being notified and all sorts of things that my daughter didn’t want. When I found out about it I asked my daughter if she wanted me to be there. She lives with her mother but I see her regularly. We talk all the time but she never said anything about this situation. I wanted her to know that I would do whatever made her most comfortable. She seemed ambivalent, not about me specifically, but about bringing parents into the situation at all.

    I told my friend about it and she said that I should go. She said that girls like to be fawned over by their dads. I told her that I wanted my daughter to grow up strong and independent and not feeling like she needed a man’s attention to establish her self-worth. I want her to know that I am always there for her but that I trust her and have faith in her to make her own decisions. My friend said, “that concept is completely foreign to me.” That made me a little sad.

    I woke up this morning and knew that I needed to be at that meeting. It wasn’t the meeting that my daughter wanted but if it was going to be this huge production, I needed to be there. When my daughter saw me she was pleased. The meeting went well and I was very proud of my daughter. She seemed to feel good about it as well and was exhibiting a great deal of confidence afterwards. She goes to a pretty amazing school.

    I wanted to write about this but I didn’t really want to write about it on my blog. When I read that you were raising daughters I though this would be a good place. Raising daughters is challenging and as a society, I don’t feel like we have done a very good job. I want to give my daughter a better shot in life than most of my female friends have had. So far it seems to be working well but I’m still not sure I know what I’m doing. I fawn over her, I tell her she’s beautiful. I tell her she’s smart. I tell her she’s talented and capable. I tell her I trust her. I tell her I believe in her. I support her in her dreams and ambitions. I’m there for her when she needs me. I’m there for her when she doesn’t need me. I do everything that I can think of. I just want her to know that she is loved and that she is worthy; the same thing I want for every child.

    • I’m glad it worked out that you could make it to that meeting. Its got to be tough to be a 15 year old young woman in this culture; pressure to dress a certain way, so much of life pressuring them to be overtly sexual, boys & men hitting on them… wanting to use them….I empathize with your daughter and hope that the situation is finally resolved now that the school is taking an interest in the situation.

  42. The best thing that we can do in order to help change the world is support the people right in front of us. Doing what you did, listening to her, was important and helpful because you were connecting to her, and as you said, in our present day we are so disconnected from each other and from the world.

  43. Yeah, it seems like people who forgo the relentless drive to make it to the top in terms of money making and instead focus on a more holistic life are viewed as some sort of loser. So many blogs make it sound like if you are over 30 and didn’t bust your ass trying to climb the corporate ladder in your 20s, you might as well put on the proverbial sweat pants and give up on life.

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