This little ranty article of mine is in reaction to a few fun current events in my life and ultimately, about you! I want to tell you how important you actually are. So, since coming back from this 6-month unsponsored, unendorsed world tour / travel rendezvous I’ve had some people reach out to me. There’s been a common theme, typically some sort of dissatisfaction with their job or life and seeking some big change or purpose. After seeing my Instagram or blog they think I may have found the answer to those deep questions from quitting my job and traveling the world. The other messages I’ve gotten is from people close to me who think I’m pretentious and…what was the word, a “humble bragger” - very offensive, yet understandable.
But, I’m going to be 100% real with you here. If you’re someone that’s sitting there at your desk or on your lunch break or laying in bed reading this article, looking for change, for purpose and just bummed with your current situation, let me attempt to enlighten you via my own personal experience, which was never all stars and butterflies and still isn’t. It’s not travel, adventure, falling in love, or having cool friends that’s going to get you to where you want to be AKA “happy” or “satisfied" or “fulfilled”…”living with purpose”. Here’s what’s going to make you super fucking happy
Words & Photos By: Jen Yih
QUESTION WTF YOU ARE DOING.
QUESTION WHAT YOU CONTRIBUTE TO.
QUESTION WHO YOU HELP.
QUESTION WHO YOU HARM.
QUESTION WHAT YOU IGNORE.
I was driving to the Oregon Coast the other day and someone rear-ended someone else causing a 1-hour traffic delay on a one-lane highway. No one hurt, probably just a little texting and driving & boom, front of car into back of another car. This persons human error affected the lives of 100s of people and cars trying to get out and enjoy the beach. Take this scenario as a major metaphor/analogy. The ripple effect of our human f*ck ups because we’re chock-full of them.
Moving on - every single day is just a myriad of decision-making. For example, I love men that take the wheel in intimate situations because I make decisions all damn day and for once, I’d love to just “let go” like a final savasana at yoga. But back to the decision-making thing - you decide when you’re going to wake up, what you’re going to eat for breakfast, what car you’re going to drive, where you work, the friends you have, the things you say, the compliments you give, the shit you talk, etc. Inside that brain of yours is just “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, “like”, “dislike”, “hungry”, “thirsty” - all damn day based on basic human survival and some beliefs you were taught, pushed on you, experiences, and well, movies, advertising, and persuasive things like that. We come up with really crazy ideas of how life “should” be lived & others like to tell us how it “should” be lived as well.
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN A LITTLE FURTHER. LET’S THINK ABOUT SOMETHING EASY, LIKE BREAKFAST:
You drink some $2 Starbucks coffee and eat a banana. Harmless right? Wrong. Your Starbucks coffee beans were hand-picked, most likely, by some older woman in South America (maybe Colombia) and is paid sh*t with no health benefits, baking in the sun all day, and going home to her very humble abode to eat beans and rice. The designers who made your cool to-go coffee cup or bag probably live in New York City and gets paid $75,000 a year to push geometric shapes around on Adobe programs in a nice air conditioned building because we have human rights laws and stuff in USA. Nice lady in Colombia vs. busy single mom designer in NYC equally human, probably altogether nice people. So, there, right there is a major decision - that $2 purchase is contributing to a much larger web of issues. Alternatively, there’s coffee farms and ethical roasters who pay people “fair trade” salaries to work fair hours in good conditions, potentially with health aid and when that person in middle of nowhere Brazil goes home at night they sleep a little sounder. That fair trade cup of coffee might be a few cents or bucks more than you’re used to paying, but its contributing to a more ethical coffee company that's taking good care of their people. Same goes for the banana you’re about to peel and eat and throw away…in the compost right?
So imagine if 1 million people took their $2 Starbucks purchase and paid $4 for fair trade coffee… I’m not so good at math, I didn’t get that Asian gene, but that takes $2 million dollars away from Starbucks and gives roughly $4 million dollars paid into ethical coffee companies and all their peeps...to allow a GOOD company to grow and expand. That’s what we call a shift in market share, yay! Thanks micro-economics 101. Pick up what I’m putting down? So, as small as your little 12 oz cup of coffee might feel, your daily decision can make a big impact. There’s strength in numbers.
Are you bored of this article, too preachy, too hippie, too altruistic, too Portland? I feel you judging me. Because I could go on about the car you drive, the gas you pump, the clothes you wear, the job you work, the shoes you sport, the place you hang out and the shit you say. I know, for a fact, because people tell me - that I sound pretentious as f*ck when I judge them based on the coffee they drink or the amount of sweat shop shoes they have yada yada but when you open up your eyes just a little bit and question what you’re contributing to - it can be quite liberating.
So, back to your unhappiness and lack of fulfillment because this is about you baby.
HOW’S YOUR DECISION-MAKING GOING?
WHAT DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO?
WHO DO YOU HELP OR ARE YOU JUST TAKING UP SPACE, CONSUMING, SPENDING, THROWING AWAY, REPEAT BEFORE YOU LEAVE SWEET MOTHER EARTH?
WHO DOES YOUR IGNORANCE HURT?
From breakfast to the hours you put in at your job and shampoo products you use…your decisions impact people and as your decisions impact people, it comes right back to you & your purpose on this planet - which is very important, you’re important to me, I’m important to you.
It’s a hard and harsh question to face, trust me, I’m still trying not to self-loath & be, what’s the word? Disagreeable or hypocritical. I know, I know - it’s hard to do the right thing. About 9 months ago, I was someone that worked their ass off to push products that people didn’t need on them through witty words and beautiful photography. It was cool, I got a raise even though corporate said we weren’t selling enough. I was grateful because it put food in my belly, contacts in my phone, and a hell of a lot more. But when I woke up one Wednesday morning and said, what the f*ck am I doing? Things changed. I had to take a full time-out and live off my savings in a poor country to really think about my short 100-something years here, look around and see whats f*cked up in the world, and ask myself how I could change it - even in the most microscopic way. I’m 110% not immune to it. I’ve had to deconstruct and reconstruct my life, make a complete career change and I still work in “advertising-ish” doing my best, for the time being, to work with companies that aren’t enslaving people or ruining the planet and pushing people to get outdoors and learn to love nature so that we can protect it - but there are a million and one things we can do to leave a larger impact, right the wrongs…and that moment that you give yourself enough self-worth & realize how important you and your daily choices are...that's where it all begins.
Think for yourself, question the status-quo, and when you do - don’t expect everyone to get right behind you and cheer you on but I can tell you - it’ll help fix that little “unhappiness” problem you’re having.