I rather enjoy being close to the biggest frog in the pond, even if the pond is just Pedersons Puddle. It has its advantages.
Its a great career and life which unfolds for some folks, in your place and time: post world war II America. For my father, who was born in 1939, the concept of a lifelong career that would sustain a wife and family, comfortably, was real. It was possible, and with very little threat or fear of unemployment or poverty around the corner. Flash forward a generation to the sixties: my kindergarten, graduating high school during Ronald Reagan and what followed: it took me until the end of the cold war to finally realize that success for me would not likely look like my Dad's scenario. There was no longer a company that valued a lifelong employee and their dependents. Human Resources became liabilities that corporations must limit to minimize exposure and maximize profit. The longer they stay, the more they cost, and increase company risk to the competition, trade disclosure, higher premiums, bigger pensions, organized labor, higher safety standards, all things human and wasteful. Why implement the peter principle when cheaper outsourcing and globalized labor exist. A few years later, my slightly younger siblings, who don't remember Nixon or Apollo or life before divorce - were better equipped to succeed by today's standards: The willingness work any place the job takes you, or just jump ship with better offers, always looking for something next, Moving to the other gig as soon as a current project gets on track. Its never good to straggle behind the herd of stampeding upward mobility into uncertain future - This beats certain failure, atrophy or irrelevance. Its not like the good old days when government jobs were second rate to the private sector, and job security was a given. No skill set is indispensable. Now there is no job security, social security, no pension, no savings accrue, no interest compounds, money is simply printed like paper grows on trees and assets are rehypothecated like the population doubles again and again. I guess what I am saying is that it seems to be a function of place and time, a sign of the times, to a certain degree. I realize its a somewhat self deluding hindsight, but its just how I rationalized the experience of a shifting ideal in a moving target called life in America. I feel much more like a sign of the past now that I am a underemployed deadbeat waiting for entitlements to pay me like a fast food worker while Obama care cures me of my old age and despair. I prefer your story more, but I'm grateful to be here, even if I'm not entitled to make it to 80 with any marketable skills. Anyway, good for you. Its always good to see people in sync with reality. Its an impressive skill, surfing a wave, it keeps you moving forward as long as you can balance yourself with the forces of nature. Perhaps I'll feel that way again, non-employed, without a need to work for money or to be valued in social currency. A new social currency is my ticket to a higher self worth and value to society. Letting bottom line economics dictate human value is unfortunate, but its a choice not a paradigm for human existence. The currency we all spend and can never hoard is time. Its much more scarce than wealth, our choices, or the possibilities.