A Life of One's Own

4 years ago

Hello, and welcome to my ongoing series about simplicity, emotional wholeness, and building an authentic life.

In this capitalist world, we're taught to value ourselves as workers and consumers. Freedom is supposed to come through finding a good job, spending your best hours there, and bringing home the paycheque.

Well, lots of people have a problem with this. 

We can't find jobs we actually enjoy. We may have gone to post-secondary school, only to discover that the subject we thought we loved turned out to be dull as dishwater. We can't find a company or organization that fits us well enough. Or we have passions and hobbies that refuse to fit into the few hours we have off from work. Or feel a calling to contribute to our communities and families in ways that simply don't earn us income.

Many people are trying to find a lifestyle that fits them instead of the other way around. Often this means simplifying, focusing more deeply on core values and needs, and valuing relationships over material possessions.

Money doesn't buy happiness. What makes life good?Money doesn't buy happiness. What makes life good?

But it can be a lonely path. Society often stigmatizes and marginalizes the "unemployed" and "underemployed". Career websites assume people can just fit themselves into employment categories in order to find that "dream job", not recognizing that this doesn't work for everyone. Not everyone can pinpoint X job at Y company doing Z.

How does someone decide what they can contribute to the world instead of just trying to find a job?

If your education and work experience don't fit what you actually want to do, how can you change your life so you are pursuing what you love?

What is the good life, anyways? What ingredients make a worthwhile and complete life?

Where does money fit in? Can you live on a spouse or partner's income? Part-time work? How far can being frugal get you? When does simplicity become poverty?

And how do you stay motivated? How do you maintain a healthy self-image and keep encouraging yourself on a day-to-day basis? Where does encouragement come from? What keeps your spirit alive?

I don't have absolute answers to any of these questions, but I'm learning what I can.

I'm a writer who lives in a small Canadian city. When I was about 17 years old, I made the mistake of assuming that the computer field was for me. I earned a degree that has since given me opportunities to both make money and lose my soul. I am now 34, and in the midst of the cliche of "finding myself".

Back in November, 2012, I had finally had enough of trying to fit myself into IT jobs. I admitted that I hated it. I didn't have much money saved up, but I have a supportive live-in boyfriend, so I quit the last of my computer jobs.

At first I felt free and optimistic. But I've learned that without that job, without that structure, I am forced into some very intense work with myself. I don't have the excuse of saying what a crappy job I have, how I hate my job, and if only I didn't have it I could pursue my passions.

I have no excuses anymore, except for the ones that a part of me stubbornly clings to.

It is hugely challenging, learning to live on one's own terms.

For me, it often means an inner war. Fighting against old demons that I am just learning to name and engage. Dealing with past and present, fears, hopes and dreams for the future.

Some days I feel that I have it together. Some days I feel that I am approaching mastery. Other days I'm running on empty, desperately nudging myself forward, begging myself to just kick it into gear and get life started.

In this blog, I'm going to explore various questions and describe my experiences as I try to strengthen myself and expand my horizons. I hope that by next January, I will be well on my way to having the self-driven life I dream about. Until then, both me and this blog are a work in progress.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

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