1540 Time Out.

These two are not opposites. They have traits that overlap, but at the same time they approach life in different ways. Not totally in opposition, but enough that it can cause tension. Thomas has a notion in his head that he is somehow destined to be great in some way. A notion that he may not truly believe in, but it colors his outlook. His default belief is that he is better than other people for reasons. In this moment Carol’s worldview is in opposition to that magical line of thinking. For her greatness is something you work towards. You might have abilities that make it more likely that you will achieve greatness, but at the end of the day you still have to put the time in. She is correct in this belief. Being told you are special your whole life doesn’t make it so. You have to live up to it. It shouldn’t be looked at as a given, but rather a goal. In Thomas’s mind it’s a given. It’s peppered throughout his dialogue. He is apart, he is above, with very little evidence to back it up. I think it’s clear that he has what it takes to be great excepting for the crucial element of drive. It’s much easier to be a big fish in a small pond and he’s fearful, and lazy, and arrogant. Though it’s harder to see in him he’s very similar to Reggie in many ways. He’s just more charming. He empathizes more easily. His motivation is for the general well being of the people he knows, but his own well being is paramount. Keeping things the way he likes them overrides all other aspects of his plans. Each person has a calculated value and a frank estimation of their skills. Which is why he is willing to sacrifice John in favor of Carol when it comes to the promotion to assistant manager. Carol is too important to him to risk losing. Even though John is more than just a work acquaintance he isn’t dependent upon him the way he is with Carol. Even if they hadn’t started dating he would’ve tried for the outcome he wanted because having her there as a goal gave him the motivation to face the world. It is not a healthy way to live. Pinning your ego to something outside of your control is generally a bad idea, but people do it all the time. Everybody knows someone who gets all destroyed when their sports team fails at the big… hoop throwing. It can throw off their life for days. Thomas pinned his happiness to a person. Which is basically what love is, but not quite.

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It can be surprisingly… liberating to pin the accountability of your own happiness on something beyond your control. No, of course it *isn’t* a good way to live, because you can only keep it up for so long, and eventually you’ll get wrecked, either because of you wising up and getting into a situation where you constantly have to ignore the nagging thoughts that what you’re doing is wrong, or simply because the something you hitched your applewagon to is driving off the edge of a cliff. But yeah – it’s easy for sure, but not a good way to live.

This is why Thomas allows himself such rage at an ex.

If I give everything to my girlfriend, and I mean everything, it sounds romantic but it’s a copout. I am also putting all the responsibility for my happiness on the that other person. It becomes impossible for me to be happy on my own.

But I get a nice self-righteous position from which to view the ex when they (inevitably) prove to be merely human. I have built a an implicit contract between us where human fallibility from my lover becomes a betrayal and I am forever blameless.

I don’t think Thomas ever put the responsibility for his happiness on Dawn. I think he made her part of his plans without taking what she wanted into account. When she got tired of his lackadaisical attitude about life she struck out on her own, and he took that as a betrayal. Now he accepts that he is ultimately responsible for her moving on because of his own refusal to go with her. At this point he just has remnants of irrational anger lingering.

This cut straight through to the core of my being. My ex would tell me such things when we were together. I was told from a young age that I was special; a miracle due to the circumstances surrounding my birth. I believed because my happiness resulting from being with my ex, that I could do whatever I intended to do. This wasn’t always the case since I just didn’t have the knowledge or skills necessary at the time. After our break up, I was gutted because I had pinned so much of my happiness on her being in my life.

I have yet to recover from that. Perhaps I never will.

Soul_Est, I went through EXACTLY that several years ago. And you do move on. It took me almost 5 years to do it, but it will happen. Eventually, all the good memories, all the bad memories, they become, well, just memories. But eventually, the pain will fade, and you will find your equilibrium. I know this doesn’t help you feel better now, but I hope that just the knowledge that it will fade will make it a little more bearable.

It definitely does. When reading this (and the next page), things clicked and suddenly it was easier to begin moving on.

Unfortunately, I also see a bit of myself in Thomas :(

It’s actually amazing. Nobody ever sees their own failings, but someone, somewhere comes along, creates… something (in this case, this comic, but can be a song, a book, a show… whatever), that highlights pretty damn close to whatever shortcomings they are afflicted by.

It all depends on the person, though, as to how they react and action upon themselves to improve from there. How brave is that person to step out into the unknown? In my case, I’m as weak as an overcooked spaghetti string…

Others may differ, but- I think that’s kind of how it goes, most of the time.
If you [need someone else, for you to be completely happy], then…if you look at that setup…you’re not an [emotionally complete] person, with or without that someone else.

It’s funny, but having notions of a Higher Purpose can be absolutely ego-(and soul)crushing. Yeah, there’s always the option to blame your station in life on others, or circumstances. But what if your conclusion is that you SHOULD be special, and if you aren’t, you’ve let everyone else down? I’m not sure if any of that is in Thomas’s head, but blame can be toxic, no matter where it’s directed.

I think the point is that if you think you should be special, but aren’t, then you’ve let yourself down, as well. You need to make the changes in your life to become that special person you’re SUPPOSED to be. Anything less is just laziness, immaturity, and/or blame-mongering. You have the inalienable right to pursue happiness, not to have it “bestowed upon” you (dad-dratted, fing-fang blasted consarn spoiled-rotten kids with their entitlement attitude towards life.)

I disagree with the basic idea “if you work hard enough you get respect and what you want”. Maybe I am wrong but in my years on this planet I see mostly people who are willing to stomp on people as the ones who mostly get ahead. I have seen excellent workers good people passed over for the jerk who can move more product cause he cheats or the person who knows all the big wigs and lets not forget the person who has something on the other. Thinking “hard work gets you what you want ” is kinda naive. Its better to say if you can make your own life a success by knowing that we all have limits. We are not beautiful snow flakes like Tyler said. In my 25 years working I have rarely seen the right person get what they should and commonly see people get what they dont deserve. Hard work is good but its not the key to success but it helps. Last thinking you are destined for better or meant for better is called Hope. Without hope what do we have to move forward some days?

Hard work includes crushing other people. Just because it harms others doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult nor involved nor requires planning. Hard work is anything involving dedication & an effective evaluation of Point A to Point B. Even cruelty.

Smack that boy upside the head, Carol! Thomas’ arguments have the odor of entitlement, and being a legend in your own mind doesn’t entitle you to anything.

I never thought I was special, and I’m not. I’ve had to work for what I wanted. Now, I have a house I built (almost 30 years ago) and a car I bought new (last year), both owned free and clear. I have a decent, if not great job. I put my own butt through college 12 years after dropping out. I started working a job a $3.11 an hour (a penny over Minimum Wage in 1977) and worked my way up. How? Showing up. I never smoked — how much is that savings at $9.50 a pack — and I quit drinking long ago. Talk about a Vice Tax!

Am I a jerk about it? Maybe, but at least I’ve earned the right.

I’ve mentioned this article to others, because it’s filled with so much truth it’s scary. It’s called “Six Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person.

“http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/

I would agree with this with the caveat that hardwork is just slightly more likely to get you where you want to go. So many people get things they don’t deserve, both the good and the bad (aka “it rains on the just and unjust alike”). Good people die or are unjustly punished, bad people get away with bad things.

It’s just that hardwork is much more likely to get you in line for something good than say, a random happenstance thing (like winning the lottery).

There’s no way to guarantee anything in life, but sometimes that can be freeing. You can’t guarantee what tomorrow will hold so just work towards it and if it doesn’t work out, maybe you’ll find a different way to accomplish your goal that’s more suited to your needs.

I guess i would make a good hippie since I am a lot like Thomas. I hated the idea of work even since I was a kid. Thought was a repulsive way to get what you want. Also doesn’t help to have deperession, introversion to the point of wanting to be left in your own world, and an autism spectrum disorder that feed off each other.

Thank you, Jackie! Most pages of this comic, to me, radiate with sympathy and joy, but this one page struck a special chord with me, because it addressed my own shortcomings. There is so much to it. I agree that Carol and Thomas talk about different sides of drive and achievement. Thomas is fantasizing about achieving a greater goal without getting too specific about it. Does he or does he not have a more specific idea of his dreams? Interestingly, it is also the number one fear that drives successful people, the fear of not living up to your potential. The dream can become a basis for drive, and a sense of entitlement can help him jump at an opportunity he recognizes as the right thing to do where a realist might not. The important thing to realize is that it’s only a first step, and all the other steps include work and risk. The real dangers of a sense of entitlement, to me, are that it may give you a false sense of security that you will definitely achieve your dream, because you believe that you are destined to obviously; and it may give you a wrong sense of progress making you believe you’re already there, or at least half way. If you then compare yourself to the image you have of others (who you believe are not meant for better things), you can say you are further ahead, if only one step. What’s more, this may have become a habit of thinking in Thomas, which would be hard to break and even harder to replace with a productive habit. But the potential is always there. I’m curious whether Thomas will stay in his comfort zone. There are attractive reasons to do so, and good reasons not to. For one, the path to your dreams is full of uncertainty, hard work, and failure. For me, this is a magical moment just before the decision. He could also luck out, like he did with Carol, or not, like with Dawn. That’s not how it usually works, but that’s how he might choose to explain it to himself or others playing down the real work and skills he is capable of. Carol, in turn, seems really happy, and grateful. She has found her way and is putting in the work necessary for success. That’s maybe why she doesn’t like trying Thomas’ comfortable, but potentially harmful habit of slacking. Maybe, she is simply at ease in her position. She could and might achieve great things, but she does not mention a goal or direction she’s working towards. It could be that she wants to keep it to herself, tor maybe she doesn’t necessarily have one. The confrontation between the two is a very fragile moment in their relationship. So many things could happen now.

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