Escapism: the Dirty Word that Keeps Us Doing What We Loathe

0 Posted by - June 16, 2008 - Life

This is part 1 of 5 on a series about my journey. Tomorrow stay tuned for Making the Time and Money Connection.

Escapism, motivation, proving people wrong, Spain, worldwide travel

Escapism: n. The tendency to escape from daily reality or routine by indulging in daydreaming, fantasy, or entertainment.

I received this comment on my post 8 Things:

“Traveling is good if you enjoy traveling, you might also want to consider finding a career that you enjoy doing. Then there will not be a need for such escapism. I enjoy traveling, but also enjoy my work.” (Emphasis added).

Wait. Is this guy calling my entire endeavor nothing more than escapism? In case this ever happens to you, I want to tell you exactly what to do. Look this person in the eye, and calmly say: “Yes, you are right.” Then walk away. They won’t understand anything else, because to them the rules have been set. This is a zero sum game. If you decide to not play the game at all, you’ve lost.

You see he is right, just not for the reasons he thinks– I’m taking escapism to the next level. I’m not just hanging a picture of a beach in Thailand on my cubicle wall. That’s escapism. I’m upping the ante: I’m escaping my escapism. Let me explain…

Escapism is the symptom

If you want to find a bunch of people dreaming about things that are not real, look no further than any American workplace. I should know, I was a black belt in Living in the Future. I knew if I just hung in there, worked hard, moved up, made more money, switched companies, organized my desk better, read more Harvard Business School case studies on teamwork or understood my bosses motivations better– I too would have a big old steaming hunk of the American Dream.

And I did. I got it. I ate it up, and asked for seconds.

When I finally landed that dream job, I looked around and thought, “Is this it?”

So yes, I decided to pull a Houdini and unlock the strait jack and swim out of the box. I am redesigning my life around the things that I love. Travel, writing and photography. Learning new languages, trying new food. There isn’t a job for this, I am creating one. (I searched Monster for “professional vagabond“ and they think I‘d have better luck if I broadened my search. No thanks, Monster).

Back to Reality

There is another part of escapism that is implied– the temporary nature of the relief that it provides. The unspoken concern is that you will take this flying leap of faith and promptly land on your face. You can’t run away from yourself, as they say. The problem with this type of logic is that it is very poor at predicting the future and even worse as a guiding principle. If everyone took this advice, the human race would be very boring indeed. We’d never take risks, we would never grow, and we’d be exactly where we started, year after year.

I won’t presume to equate my journey with anyone else’s, but in some ways I do hope I fail on some things. I want to find out what I love and don’t love in the world. I want to be challenged. Plus it makes for a great story:

New England Woman Moves to Spain, Promptly Bursts into Flames, Proves Everyone Right.

What do you think? Is it running away or running towards something?

No comments