What the heck have I been doing for the past 6 weeks??? Where have I been hiding?
In the box, that's where. The corporate, straight path, by the book, play it safe, work box that so many people in this country are on. I hate that path. It's the path I left in 2002 when I retired for the first time (at the age of 34). I eventually put one foot back on the path (I don't know if living in New Orleans can be called putting a foot back in or out), then started working as a contract employee for the factory of happiness and thought I was doing the right thing.
I love the job I have now. No personal development plans, flexibility to work from home, work is only 30 hours a week and as long I meet all my deadlines, everyone's happy.
But in a conversation I had with a friend last week, it became crystal clear to me that I don't want the life in the box. I've never been a follower and even in the most organized of groups (my sorority comes to mind) I grew tired of always playing by the rules.
When I decided to quit my job, sell my house and move to France in 2002, lots of people thought I was crazy. Shoot, I sort of thought it was crazy, too, but I knew if I didn't that I would either go off the deep end or end up living with my parents and weaving baskets out of river grass if I continued to be so stressed out all the time.
Do I worry that I'll end up a bag lady with no one to look after me, no savings and wandering aimlessly in the world? Sure, how could I not worry a little bit. But what I've come to realize in my 42nd year is that I would rather face an uncertain future than to put myself back in that box where I might just go crazy from being a big business worker bee. I'd rather look forward and think, "I wonder what I'll be doing in 20 years" than look back and say, "I've had shingles, heart attacks and arthritis because of my corporate job, but at least I have ___ thousands in my 401k."
Fear is something that I deal with on a daily basis. Fear can be crippling. Fear can turn you into a worker drone like the ones I see around the happiness factory (I swear I was in an elevator w/ a zombie a couple of weeks ago). I think for me, the courage to continue doing what I want to do while trying to live my dream is much more important that trying to live up to the rules of The American Dream. What is that any way? Shouldn't everyone be allowed to have their own dream? Does my dream have to be the same one as my neighbor in the next cube?
I may never have kids. I may not be able to retire (again) before I'm 65. I may never own a house again (I've had two and they were both huge pains in the ass). I may never have a job where my employer matches my 401k contributions.
But guess what? I'm really happy. I do have clients to answer to, which is good because it means that I actually have to buckle down and get some work done as opposed to frittering away time on Facebook or watching movies. Do I wish I had more money saved for retirement? Of course. But again, I look at my life and I thank God every day for giving me the courage to live the way I want to live.
These are some of the things I've been thinking about lately. Work has been hectic, but I've also been hibernating a bit, considering all my options.
And considering all that I have in my life, I'd say I'm doing just fine.
Look for more posts in the coming days!!