Tyler Smith

How long has it been since I've been to Los Angeles?

Tonight, I dropped off a friend at LAX for a 1 am flight. While driving through Los Angeles, I thought, "Damn, when was the last time I was here?"

It's really strange to think about. When my grandparents were alive they lived in Encino, so traveling to Los Angeles was a regular part of my childhood. After they passed away, I briefly lived in their house while trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

The last time I remember going to Los Angeles was when I was visiting a friend in Simi Valley around the beginning of 2015. While I was visiting, we took a quick trip to visit my grandparents' old house; the Macy's I used to work at. Normal stuff.

That's the last time I remember being in the Los Angeles area. It's so weird to think about, since it was such a big part of my life when I was growing up. It's also the closest "real city" to Bakersfield.

My life was basically put on hold when I graduated college and entered the workforce. I've only had two real vacations in the six years since I graduated. My experience isn't atypical: it's the lived reality for many millennials I know. I stopped traveling, stopped having new experiences, and gave work almost everything I had. I saved the last part of the night for drinking and rewatching shows I had already seen on Netflix just to feel numb.

It's my understanding that when the concept of "workaholics" was introduced in the 1980s, it was seen as a dysfunction and painted with the same brush as alcoholism and gambling addiction. Decades later, this excess is celebrated in Instagram-esque hustle porn. Baby Boomers–the generation who was originally skeptical of the work-until-you-drop ethos–created a revisionist history where they out-hustled us all. It has since become a race-to-the-bottom of who can work the most and live the least, all in hope that it has to pay off some day.

As I look back on the years since I graduated college, I can't help but feel that I sacrificed too much for too little. I've gotten okay at coding, but I traded that for everything that makes life worth living.

The work I've done has separated me from the meaningful parts of my life. It has added little fulfillment to my life or the lives of those who engage with it.

I think we can do better.