The unfortunate truth of life is that our efforts aren’t always rewarded, at least not in the sense that we might expect. The fortunate truth of life is that there are times a complete lack of effort can still bring us prosperity. I’m not talking about yin and yangs, ebbs and flows, or Adam Sandler movies in the 90’s and every Adam Sandler movie since.
I’m talking about the nature of effort itself. We can try to squeeze every drop of our comeuppance from the effort we put in, but effort is not a consistently exchanged commodity, and therein lies the danger in tying expectations to it.
If effort was uniformly rewarded, the hardest working sports team would always win, the person who stayed late would always get the raises, and the girl would always orgasm for doing that freaky sexy thang with her hips.
The world would simply reward those who deserved it and be objectively “fair.”
We’ve all heard people say “life isn’t fair,” though, and it’s typically being said in one of two scenarios:
- A parent explaining to a child that even though Timmy’s parents got him a Sega Genesis, he wouldn’t be getting one. Further, he shouldn’t be upset when things like this happen because life isn’t always fair.
- That same parent complaining to his wife that Greg got the promotion that should have been his, and because of that, life isn’t fair.
The running theme is thinking that we should be owed something for our efforts. This happens when we compare our expected rewards with how other people are rewarded. The child in the example above didn’t put in any effort to warrant a Sega Genesis from his parents, but neither did Timmy. The parent allegedly put in more effort than Greg at work, but didn’t get the promotion.
Effort never has been, and never will be, consistently valued, yet over time we’ve bastardized “effort” to be correlated with whether life is or isn’t fair.
I’ll note that effort is typically required for compensation. Marrying an old wrinkly rich man or woman might seem like a work around, but typically this scenario yields a certain type of fruit (big ass houses) while requiring exceptional effort (sexing old people). Anna Nicole Smith married a billionaire and many thought her road to riches wasn’t fair compared to the road they had to travel to mediocrity.
In fact her road was probably hard…then soft, then hard again, then soft again, and then followed by a shame shower.
Studying for an exam only means that you’ll hopefully be rewarded more than had you not. It doesn’t mean you’ll score better than Michelle who didn’t study at all. Michelle is smart as fuck.
If we can stop valuing our effort based on a comparison of our peers, we can start valuing our effort for the effort itself. Fittingly, it’ll take effort to change this mentality, but maybe we can squeeze more out of ourselves as a result.
The world may or may not be waiting to reward us for our efforts, and that will always have to be enough to try.
Drawing by @momopflan