Escaping the American Rat Race, a new approach to success in our country.

Happiness portrayed as sold out to regular civilians. (Steve Cutts, Medium)

“Happiness” portrayed as sold out to regular civilians. (Steve Cutts, Medium)

Christopher Brookbank, News Editor '25

In a capitalist environment, almost everyone is looking for a way to adapt with an economy that changes almost twenty-four seven, and unfortunately some people work at jobs that just don’t cut it. This is the rat race.

The rat race, according to Oxford Languages, is “a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power.” Although some may not relate with this, and live humble lives with their wealth, the competition aspect has never been more true. Everyone wants to have basic necessities when living life: food, water, sleep, and a roof over their heads, but in order to do that there needs to be enough income being made that’ll also combat the constant bills and taxes. “40%” of Americans get wrapped up in a struggle to pay taxes, according to a statistic from the Census Bureau found by Money writer Adam Hardy, because of how much money is required to spend on those bills alone.

A cartoon based around the rat race. (Illus: Polyp)

There is a solution to this problem, a lot of people find that escaping the rat race and starting side hustles or a legit business will help them financially, while also offering for a more wealthy status.

Some of the students and teachers here at Vanden High school have side hustles and businesses of their own. Like Danali Hardwick, an independent, self-made senior who owns an aesthetic eyelashes business named Lashed By Danali. She makes forty to fifty an hour before supply costs, and believes that others should definitely find ways to be their own boss “instead of working a boring retail job.”

Another person who makes a hefty sum of income is none other than Mr. Benoit, an English teacher here at Vanden who also dabbles in finance and fitness training. His version of a side hustle is his career as a personal trainer, which is someone who helps clients with staying in shape. He believes in stability, his job as a teacher helps pay for his living expenses, while being a trainer allows him to have that extra money to invest with his brokerage. What got him to become a trainer and English teacher was college majors like Exercise Science, English, and a “luck of the draw” offer from gym owners asking him to become a personal trainer. “It’s kind of a nice little double side hustle because I don’t have to use that money for expenses.”

The way people value their money is entirely up to them, and as long as hard work and dedication is put into finding that perfect area of expertise. Like Geona, a Vanden senior who both works a minimum wage job and runs a business called Creations by Geona. When she asked about the purpose of her business, she claimed that she loves baking and it’s something that makes her happier, compared to her job.

Photo of Geona’s baked goods (Photo creds: creationsbygeona)

These examples show the different forms of dealing with the rat race, one being that working a “9-5” can be helpful for stability, and the other being that a minimum wage job is not preferred compared to the amount of money already being made. Both are just as valid as the next. Everyone has different beliefs when it comes to how they make their money, but the most important thing is to not be on the negative side of the rat race. According to Mr. Benoit, “search yourself” and find careers that match your passion. 

Follow your goals, that’s the main point of this all. There will be a point in time in our lives where we may have to do some sort of regular work, but the end-game strategy is to make sure you are doing what makes you happy, while working hard to live comfortably.