We are all institutionalized… Most of us don’t realize it yet. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure isn’t a good one either. I guess it is what it is.
I’ve been fascinated with the concept of institutionalization since learning about it from Shawshank Redemption. In the prison drama, an elderly character named Brooks was released after decades of serving time. Now working in a grocery store, Brooks has become the epitome of institutionalization, asking permission for the restroom and handling conflicts violently at work. If you haven’t seen it – spoiler alert – he hangs himself after having a difficult time transitioning into the real world. Luckily, a majority of us isn’t affected like that. But unfortunately, it does happen.
I was at work and accidentally eavesdropped on a convo between a Best Buy store manager and his employee. They were echoing throughout the warehouse. He admitted that working in retail for so many years has made him institutionalized and could never switch industries, which prompted this slice. I chimed in, explaining that I’d rather stand all day instead of being seated for eight hours a day. He agreed.
From the conservative corporate world to the salacious porn industry and unpredictable college life to the professional medical field, we live by certain codes, partake in particular practices, fall into regular roles and learn the ins and outs of our chosen paths. By doing so, we adapt to the environment to succeed. In other words, we do what we do to survive.
Unlike surviving prison, all we need is common sense, necessary skills, perseverance, a positive outlook, just to name a few. Because we have the ability to change industries as we please and can create our own futures, we can break free from being institutionalized. Either way, society is the ultimate institution, which we are born into. Even if we decide to change course, for example, from restaurants to the entertainment industry, we’ll still technically be in an institution thanks to society. But don’t worry, it’s just like Inception…’cause life is like a dream. So live life and choose your own destiny.