Guys. Guys, look at this quote from Edward Conrad, Mitt Romney’s extremely wealthy former partner.
“God didn’t create the universe so that talented people would be happy,” he said. “It’s not beautiful. It’s hard work. It’s responsibility and deadlines, working till 11 o’clock at night when you want to watch your baby and be with your wife. It’s not serenity and beauty.”
Isn’t that just the Success Myth in five sentences?
Conrad is rich. So rich that my brain has literally run out of ways to spend the amount of money he has beyond charitable donations. You would think that, once you’d acquired your first few billions, you’d start prioritizing your own happiness. Write poetry! Get two or three PhDs! Hang out on the beach smoking pot! Come up with the world’s most awesome cosplay! Watch your child grow up! Whatever.
Not Conrad. For him, all of that gets sacrificed to make another billion or two.
And it’s clearly not that he loves his job. I know people who love their jobs. They complain, of course, as everyone does, but they don’t talk about sacrificing their happiness for their job, or about how talented people weren’t meant to be happy. Their job makes them happy. If no one was paying them, they’d work for free. For Conrad, if no one was paying him, he’d find out what he could make billions at and then do it.
I just find this whole business tremendously sad. The purpose of life is to be happy and to make other people happy, not to live up to some bullshit ideal of “success” that contributes little to society and doesn’t actually make you more fulfilled. Sure, you’re a “winner.” You have the highest number in your bank account! Yay! I hope that comforts you for your empty life!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a success or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re an “art-history major” (Conrad’s favorite term of derision, apparently) or if you drink coffee at 2:30 in the afternoon while college-educated. Many art historians majors love their jobs! Getting a cup of coffee at 2:3o in the afternoon is an excellent life choice for many people, including people who work from home, unemployed people, graveyard shift workers, people who work weekends and have Tuesday off, people who need a break from work to clear their heads and come up with better ideas, and people who just really like coffee!
To be perfectly clear: I have no problem with workaholics. I don’t have any problem with private equity firms, I don’t think, since I’m not particularly clear on what they are or what they do. I have a problem with the expectation that men should concentrate on making as much money as humanly can, without regard to their happiness, their families, or anything else. Virtue does not depend on how much money you make. There is no requirement to justify your existence by “making something of yourself” and “fulfilling your potential” by making fucktons of money. Happiness is enough.