We don’t hate Mondays, we hate the life we had chosen and that we no longer like today. Talking about how social pressures affect the unhappiness we experience at work and in life in general is important. Talk about stories of people who made the leap to the life they wanted, too.
Changing careers because you are unhappy (or just “unhappy”)
According to a Gallup survey, only 13% of people (worldwide) feel happy with their job. But without needing to look at the polls, global trends in Quittok or big resignations are already prompting us to ask: Why? There can be several reasons, including the one that many people know very well that instead of following their heart they have chosen a career (or a salary) based on what the company or family wanted for them or, again, simply: they realized that the educational or professional path they had chosen was not right. But by now they were there and they continued. And with the continued social pressure from the media, capitalism, friends and even family, who blames those who spend years living a life that – simply put – isn’t theirs? Success is that something towards which we have been pushed and pushed since we were born and this regardless of branch or context: success is a volatile concept and applies both to organized crime and to political or religious institutions. However, success does not mean for everyone owning an Aston Martin or a villa with a swimming pool, for someone it will mean following in the footsteps of their parents in the family business without letting it go bankrupt, for someone else it will mean living on the salary of the chosen profession and in which they have invested. What if success for someone is being happy? What if to be happy you had to go elsewhere? In the sense: if following a dream that began when you were a teenager was no longer the right path once you turned thirty or forty? It is also there: fortunately the awareness that one has of oneself changes radically as one grows up. Francesco Scarpulla, 47, is well aware of this and tells us his story. Actually two: the first is linked to the shock in the family and in the group of friends, when he told them that it was ok to have become a lawyer but he wanted to travel the world. And to travel the world it was also nice to be a chef: from an advertisement seen by chance for a job in the kitchen somewhere in Dublin he flew to Ibiza, New York and then landed at Gualtiero Marchesi’s school. First super apprenticeship, in his case, then school. And it was worth it.
The second story
The second story is that of how the figure of the cook, twenty years ago, was not as chic as it is now. Today, thanks to TV programs such as MasterChef, even the most conservative middle-class families are passionate about the chef’s profession (often without knowing how exhausting the job is). At the time when Francesco, “Ciccio”, gave up the path that had been taken for him, being a cook was not cool but he did it anyway and now he lives in Paris, where he was called as a consultant for a mega restaurant in the 2019. Ciccio Osteria Creativa was born from courage, 18 seats in a small and sober artisan bistro that changes the menu three times a week at 38 rue de l’Eglise, Paris 15. In the rigorously seasonal dishes you can find exoticism, sicilianity, fusion and French tradition. And freedom. But he adds that Covid has turned all the work that revolves around catering upside down: rediscovering the little joys and simple things also means bringing the quality of life, work and raw materials back into the kitchen. Something that obviously costs money. “We took ourselves too seriously”, he comments, also echoing those who before him had denounced the toxic and frustrating atmosphere in the kitchen. In fact, if before the dream of every chef was to have a large kitchen brigade, today the final goal of many is to go to the countryside, open a guest house with few rooms and few dishes, rediscover the relationship with nature through the care of a vegetable garden and of flavours. Ciccio will do it too, he says, but he doesn’t know if in Italy or in France.
Set social pressures to “do not disturb”
Whether it’s pressure to have a prestigious title, whether it’s to push us to own something luxurious, (which are the same pressures that push us to the perfect body or to be the perfect parent) they are the greatest source of stress in the life of a all and all. We don’t hate Mondays, we hate the life we had chosen and that we no longer like today. But what drives us to respond to social pressure, what impact does succumbing have on us and above all, how to stop? The response to peer pressure is driven by one thing: fear of rejection. Rejection of social groups we think we belong to or wish we belonged to: home, friends, colleagues, partners, fear is universal. And there isn’t a single person on this planet who doesn’t fear rejection on some level. Like all our fears, this one from our primitive origins, to the days when we picked berries and hunted mammoths: days when fear was a necessary sensation to survive. Being ostracized and marginalized by one’s group then almost always meant certain death, but not today.
The fear of rejection has taught us to maintain socially acceptable behavior in order to increase our chances of survival, but while humans have evolved to respond to changing physical environments, our fears have not. Our fears have the same dynamics as geological eras ago, they haven’t adapted. In this sense, for many people succumbing to social pressure is the only option: the instinct is that of self-preservation, self-protection, but on the contrary the effects are often self-destructive. Compromising with social pressure means putting aside what would instead give us joy: and it applies to those who choose to change careers, to break up in a relationship, to migrate to other places. Stop listening to us and stop feeling that what we do corresponds to what we want means disconnecting from oneself, not protecting oneself. The times of the caves are over and even the Mammoths, having normalized being stuck in a job that has a cool title and an enviable salary but that sucks the life out of us, must end as well.