The idea of delayed gratification has been around for a long time. It is one of the messages high school teachers profess in order to ensure that their students follow the ‘right’ path. Through the course of this essay, I put forth the following hypothesis – Our current social structure provides a greater incentive for people to pursue paths which provide an instant reward for their effort, and it is not to take the bait, and believe this societal lie wherein success lies.
Our popular culture is studded with icons in their twenties and early thirties. Bill Gates is outdated, he remains an icon only for our parent’s generation. We glorify Mark Zuckerberg because he ‘made it’ in his twenties. The person who is making it to your facebook feed is the one who is starting a website as he is graduating.
These people are probably doing great things and making human lives far better than it has ever been in the history of our existence. But they are also living in an age where the average person even in a relatively poor country lives through his 70’s with reasonable health. It is great, that an otherwise highly hierarchical society recognizes and rewards people in their youth, who push the bars of human creativity.
But some human endeavours take substantial amount of time, even in this age of computers. It comes as a result of several weeks, months or even years of waking up at 7am and sleeping at 11 pm. We as a society do not acknowledge this dedication. Instead we choose to believe that the greatest contributions to human society have come through the labours of a few, who pulled some all-nighters when they had a great idea. We do this because we want to believe that we are one step away from being those people, and that the only thing we lack is the ‘motivation’ to work. We are wrong.
The truth is there is meaning only in effort and there is gratification only at the very end.