We think slavery is abolished. Or we may agree that modern slavery exists in developing countries as child labor and human trafficking, but we think that in western societies people are free.
Because: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
ut what is the liberty we have? It’s not the kind of liberty I want to be “free” to work 40 hours a week on a job I hate. I don’t understand the pursuit of happiness as being able to shop for things I don’t need or travel twice a year to somewhere I deem exotic. Nor do I think it means having the right to behave immorally, cheating on your spouse and breaking your marriage vows, discarding the one you promised to love forever in exchange of “searching for happiness” in someone else’s pants.
I have had exactly one full time job in my life, which I lasted about four months. I was asked to stay longer, but I could not. I did study math and for University entrance exams, and I just didn’t have the energy to do that with a day job. I remember vaguely the exasperation I felt on Sunday evenings, knowing the work week was beginning in the morning.
I tried to work part-time while I was in The University, and did so as a waitress in a cafeteria for about six months. But I found it hard to combine with studying. If I worked, I didn’t have the energy and organizational skills to study when I wasn’t working. I got depressed and subsequently ill with a chronic disease (besides depression).
The job I liked most was one of my first ones, cleaning an office. I got paid for a calculated three hours (or was it four, I forget!) work, but it did not matter if I spent 30 minutes doing it, if it was well done. And it was, I got compliments on collecting the used coffee mugs from the rooms and washing them, things I didn’t have to do. I could go and do the cleaning any time after working hours on Friday and before Monday morning. Nobody was looking over my shoulder while I did it, there was no hurry, it was simple and there was no risk of failure. Later when I was in the University, I tried to get a cleaning job but didn’t because apparently I didn’t have enough experience or something. Oh well. All the jobs I ever had I got through acquaintances. If I applied by myself, I was never hired. Talk about an ego-boost…
I never completed my University studies, but after spending some time doing voluntary work abroad, I started in the Art school and I loved it. We had to be there at 9 AM or we were given hell. The teachers were passionate and cared about our progress and learning. It was very different compared to the Uni, where nobody cared if I showed up or not, if I took my exams or not.
The structure worked for me because I loved painting and drawing, there were no exams where I had to memorize a bunch of stuff just for the sake of passing a test.
So I became an artist. I have also taught myself many craft skills, I know how to sew, knit, spin yarn and so on. (Actually I learned to sew and knit from my mother.) I wanted to do textile design so I taught myself to use Photoshop and make repeating patterns. I wanted to publish a book and I taught myself to use a platform for that. I found print houses and started a business. Now, while I still have my business, my aim is to be free from having to work at all and have my assets work for me. I have enough assets, but it will take a while to re-allocate them more efficiently so that everything is creating income instead of just sitting there. I will keep working on business a little, and I will keep painting and writing and doing things I want to do and if they create a bit of extra money, that’s great.
If I can’t do things I’m passionate about, if I can’t rest and have enough quiet time my introvert soul needs, I suffer. So because of my highly independent, introverted and passionate spirit AND my chronic illness, a 9-to-5 job would totally be a prison for me.
There are people who like to have a boss who tells them what to do and we need all kinds of people. But if you are like me, being tied down to a job may feel soul crushing. If you have a lot of debt, you can’t not work even if you really hate your job, but if you have saved and invested and become financially free, you have an option to quit and find a better job. Or no job at all. It’s wonderful!
Likewise, you may feel trapped in an abusive marriage with no way out. You have been a trusting spouse, worked at home (and house work and raising kids is work even though it doesn’t pay anything. Just try to get someone else to clean your house and watch your kids, and see if they think it’s work or not..).
If this is you, start with making a plan. I’ve come across people who have studied and got a degree in secret in preparation to leave their abuser. Some have saved and socked away money slowly for a few years. They talk to a lawyer and “get their ducks lined up”. But in the end, you have to bite the bullet, make the jump. It’s scary as hell. But freedom is waiting for those who refuse to stay shackled any longer. It may not be possible immediately, but it will be eventually. And sometimes it happens, that if you take a calculator and add up all your assets and all your expenses and liabilities (things that cost you money, like a mortgage or car payments and other debt), and look at how much money you can get from selling excess possessions, how much you can save by moving somewhere cheaper and cutting frivolous spending – you may even find yourself happily surprised and already there!
This little bird wants to have a song in her heart, she wants to smell the ocean air and have the wind ruffle her feathers. She does not want to stay in any cage, not matter if it’s made from gold and precious stones.
Saving and investing you money instead of spending will buy you freedom.
If you have a job and you are willing to save 70-80% of your income for 5 years, you will have bought your freedom from working ever again. If you don’t have a job and have no savings or assets you can sell, you need to make a plan to find some work. The higher percentage you can save and the lower you can get your expenses, the sooner you are free.
Some people choose to stay in abusive marriages for the financial security, Some people choose to work until they are 70 so they can keep spending their whole paycheck on stuff. You can choose to live in the cage and some people live in them because they are so accustomed to being caged that they don’t see it.
You can, but you don’t have to.
If you opt out, you will likely get weird responses. I’ve been called lazy for not working (when I was also sick) and people have thought that I wouldn’t amount to anything when I didn’t get my University degree finished. But I don’t care about receiving status or fame or having a “career”. I care about my freedom and I care about the state of my soul. I care about my relationships and I care about not robbing this earth of resources and using them beyond my needs. I care about learning to differentiate my wants and needs, to question my actions and thoughts, and I care about living with integrity and passion and honesty. When I live this way, I have come to succeed in a few things as a result.
So who wants out?