A harsh mistress (with apologies to R.A.H.)
The marketplace is not your friend. It’s not your enemy either. It simply doesn’t care. It is one of the most absolutely neutral things in the universe.
The marketplace tends to reward you in proportion to the value you bring to it. Oh, some people will interfere with this from time to time, but over long periods of time, it rewards value. It doesn’t really care about people.
Just like it doesn’t really care about people, the marketplace doesn’t care about your needs, wants, dreams, hopes or your aspirations. All it cares about is the value you bring. Dream big all you want. Unless your dreams produce value, the marketplace won’t reward them.
Skills are what make you valuable to the marketplace. Skills are everything in the marketplace. They define the value you bring. Dreams, it turns out, are not skills.
Some of my skills are a lot of fun to exercise. Unfortunately, they don’t pay very well. I have other skills, not nearly as much fun, which pay far better. Why? They are more valuable to the marketplace. If those skills become obsolete tomorrow, they will cease to pay well. If I want more money, I need more and better skills. So do you.
The marketplace, like history, has some lessons to teach. Also like history, it doesn’t care if you learn them or not. Not learning them, though, is going to cost you and will cost you far more than money.
If the marketplace is not your friend, then what is it? It is, more than anything else, a harsh mistress.