Life
by John Hickey on May 6, 2013

If you think any of the below are accomplishments worth praising, do me a favor. Take a long look at yourself in the mirror and then bash your swollen head against it until the glass breaks and those thoughts trickle down the drain. Then reread what I’ve written, if you can get the glass out of your eyes. Or have a paramedic read it to you on your way to the ER.

1. Graduating
Example: “Finally got my Bachelor’s degree in General Studies today! I sure am going to miss the University of Anybody Graduates. Best five and a half years of my life!”

There was a time when a large part of the population did not go to college. Now our generation is expected to both go and graduate. So despite what you think, no you don’t deserve a big shining trophy or a national holiday named after you when you do. Walk across that stage, shake the Dean of Students hand, pick up the most expensive piece of paper you’ve ever bought and then go call it quits with that sophomore you’ve been slamming for the past six weeks. Trust me Bro, it’s the first thing you do.

I didn’t go to an Ivy League school or prestigious technical institute, but I did graduate from a Catholic university in the Midwest that always finished last in the Big East Tournament. Somehow, I got my Liberal Arts degree without taking a single note the entire time I was there. Do I really expect people to congratulate me for finishing four years of copying and pasting from Wikipedia? I certainly hope not.

2. Getting a job
Example: “I’m proud to announce that I’ve just accepted a position as substitute kindergarten teacher at the elementary school where my mother is superintendent!”

You could argue that in today’s climate it’s awfully hard for a Bro to secure a decent job. But since the beginning of the Industrial Age it’s been a requirement. So no matter how hard it’s supposed to be, you’re still supposed to do it. Especially after leaving college with that expensive piece of paper I mentioned called a diploma. If you’re like the majority of college graduates, you were going to school on the bank’s dime. The second you “borrowed” from them they flipped the hourglass over and started pouring extra sand in the top, hoping to bury you in the debt.

I worked half a dozen odd jobs straight out of college, which included driving a delivery truck, doing promotional work for a radio station and writing for the local paper. Not a single one of them was fulltime, but I accrued enough dough to stay out of my parents’ basement and in an apartment in the city. And it looks like I might be able to pay off my loans before the bank kidnaps my family and execute my girlfriend and friends too.

3. Working hard
Example: “Ugh, I can’t believe I have to stay late tonight to get all of these forms finished for my boss. You know what they say #riseandgrind.”

Or…

“Ugh, I can’t believe I have to stay inside on such a gorgeous Sunday and study for this practical #graduateschoolproblems.”

Listen, if you choose to take a job that you know will work you like a dog, or you choose to take four more years of schooling then you don’t really expect people to be impressed by the fact that you’re doing EXACTLY what you actively chose to do right? Bro, you couldn’t possibly be that obtuse. That’s like moving to Florida and complaining that there’s a drug dealer living next door to you. It’s Florida, what’d you expect? Their state motto is “Sunny Skies, Shady People.”

At the first fulltime position I took, I worked for two of the biggest rednecks you could imagine. These two treated me with such little respect that I wouldn’t have pissed on them if they were on fire. Did I call my dad, crying and begging for him to send money? Well yes, but I did that pretty much every month when my rent was due. The point is I never once said a word about it to anybody, because they wouldn’t have cared. I chose to take a job at one of the top cable television networks in existence and the position I took was the lowest rung on the ladder. I wasn’t supposed to be treated with any respect.

4. Doing a good deed
Example: “Bus was so crowded that I had to give up my seat for a pregnant chick. There’s nowhere to put my Trader Joe’s bags now but that’s what you get for being a gentleman.”

Acts of human decency are now considered anomalies. That’s why when someone helps a woman carry her stroller down the subway steps you always see them walk away with a big shit-eating grin on their face. A grin that says, “Yep, that was me. I did that. I think I’m going to avoid going to the park to stare at children and instead go to that help group the judge recommended.”

It doesn’t matter if you have the worst set of morals in existence. You don’t deserve a big blue ribbon pinned on your chest every time you take two seconds to leave your own orbit of selfishness to help somebody. That’s called paying it forward, because at some point somebody probably reached out and helped you in some way. Or molested you, it depends. 

5. Exercising/losing weight
Example: “Spin class was such a killer today! Good thing I have my wheat grass shake to look forward to. Only 60 pounds left until my goal weight!”

Let’s say when you were born your parents gave you a brand new car. They told you it’ll be your car for the rest of your life and it’s your job to take care of it. And over the course of the next twenty years you treat it terribly. You rarely drive it, you never use the right gasoline or change its oil and just generally dent the shit out of it. Then one New Years Day when you’re 25, you have an epiphany. You want the car to look as brand new as the day you got it. Do you think people are going to commend you for finally coming to this realization? Nope. They’re going to barely glance at you as they drive by in their faster, shinier cars on their way to the beach.

I’m not so short sighted as to say that all health and weight problems are only user generated. I know that some people have better genes than others. And like all of the other points I’ve made, there’s nothing wrong with working towards something you’re proud of. But it’s not everyone else’s responsibility to tell you how good of a job you’re doing. That comes from within. If you’re too weak to accomplish those things without others holding your hand every step of the way then you don’t deserve what’s at the end of that journey and probably won’t ever get it either.

John Hickey is a Chicago based stand up comedian. Follow him on Twitter at @johnnyjhickey or check him out at johnhickeycomedy.com

[Trophy Image via ShutterStock]

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