The Life I’ve Always Wanted
Just a few months ago, I was chatting with my homeboi Cameron about a fantasy scenario I have sometimes.
No, not that type of fantasy!
This one, “If someone paid for all your expenses for one year. What would you do with your time?”
If I remember correctly, he wanted to learn a way to make a sustainable business, so when he returned to work a year later, he would have a second income that would allow him to work less and spend more time with his family.
Mine was definitely more fantasy driven: It starts with moving to a small town. At the time, I said Grand Lake, Colorado. If I had to choose a favorite spot in Colorado, it would have to be Grand Lake. Not only do I have some very fond memories here, I really enjoy the scenery. It’s too beautiful. There is a quaint town with 2 for 1 margaritas during happy hour at one restaurant and ice cream shop that my lactose intolerant body cannot resist!
Next, I’d get a job! I know, you’re asking, ” Wasn’t the point of this fantasy to not work?” Yes. In a way. I would want a job in cozy coffee shop. I’ve always wanted to own a coffee shop. When I was young, I dreamed of calling it Ms. Abbey. So clearly influenced by The Beatles album. I love coffee and the ambiance shops provide. Many good things happen within the four walls of a café. In my opinion, they don’t receive the recognition they deserve in the States.
Working at a coffee shop would also be my community fix. A place where I can see regulars, have some lengthy chats about how things are going on the ranch, discuss local politics, and probably ward off offers from the older customers attempting to set me up with their daughters or granddaughters.
Yep, even in my crazy fantasy, I’m single.
I’d run a lot in this fantasy life. When I was younger, I remember watching my brother run a lot. He was preparing for a marathon when he was 17 or 18. I was at a very impressionable age, and wanted to be just like him. Since then, my fantasy has always included days with a nice run.
I would fill the rest of my days with writing. I always dreamed that in the slow times in my coffee shop, I would sit and write something. A book maybe, or a memoir. In my dreams, I was a bit older and had traveled the world, shot beautiful pictures which were hung on the wall of the café, and I would sit and write stories I lived or heard while I was abroad.
It’s a simple fantasy; I like it.
“Do you think I could quit my job and work a bunch of little jobs?” I asked my sister. “I think I’d have plenty less money to play with, but I’d be happier overall!”
I’ve asked my sister this question plenty of times throughout my life. In fact, I’ve tossed a lot of ideas her way. I have so many different ideas that pop through my head. Many of them I filter, while the rest my sister helps filter between “ridiculous” and “so ridiculous, it just might work.”
Moving to New Zealand was ridiculous enough to work.
This idea of working multiple jobs to make a living is something I’ve tossed around for a while. A while ago, I started working multiple side jobs to make extra side money so I can pay the ever growing student loan mountain. (APU, you’re great, but I debate if you’re worth the cost!) Therefore, I was already used to wearing different hats.
So many people take the path of working multiple jobs all the while hoping they can one day land a big one to cover all of their expenses. The 9-5 life is what many people work toward, but honestly, I’m exhausted by it.
I’m so tired of driving an hour or more to work and back everyday.
I’m so tired of working a job that brings no enjoyment or value to my life.
I’m so tired of being tired at the end of the day and not having the energy to live!
I’ve been blessed with good jobs for the past few years and sure the money is good, but how long will I make myself live to work and just get more money and more tired? The constant struggle between what I do and what I want to do has been going on since I’ve joined the work force.
I remember having a conversation with my father about this. I love the provision my father has given my siblings and me during our adolescence. However, even at a young age, I could see the toll it took on him. He was tired, all the time. Fortunately, as he got older, he was offer jobs that required to drive less, or work less. But it took many years to get there.
During the phone call with my dad, he told me that during his life he learned that a person should choose something they enjoy over the money. He felt like money chasing was helpful in providing, but he missed out on enjoying some parts of life.
My dad worked a minimum of 40 hours a week, that’s 2080 hours a year. Factor in the 2 hours of drive time one way, my dad spent a minimum of 130 days of the year with work. Work that he wasn’t enjoying.
130 days of the year, doing something you don’t enjoy. Let that sink in.
“You know what I’ve learned, son? If you choose to work something you enjoy, you’ll be happier at work, which will help you be happier overall. I would choose happiness over money.” My dad said simply.
“DON’T TELL HIM THAT!!!” Exclaimed my mother, who we then learned was eavesdropping.
Different strokes for different folks. Despite the saying, money does bring a form of happiness to a lot of people. It brings the security they feel they need. It brings the stuff to fill their house. It allows the to dress the way they want. Money is the fantasy that many people have, and they chase it like I chase my dreams. Power to them! I hope they get it and I hope it brings the type of happiness they’re looking for.
It just doesn’t bring the happiness I’m searching for.
Originally, I entered the work force as a manager of a retail store in Southern California. Let me tell you, that was awful. Like seriously, terrible. I’m a firm believer that everyone should spend 1 year working in customer facing retail positions.
Retail put so much stress on me! Thieves taking merchandise (and punching me in the face – a story for another time perhaps), constantly unruly middle aged women wanting to report me for not giving them a deeper discount, and a boss that would alter my hours without telling me so my paycheck was less than I earned. (Not you Laurie, you’re a gem and I love you, and still think about you and tell stories about you!)
It was there that I felt a strong drain of my life.
Every. Single. Day.
I’ve never felt more depressed in my entire life. I literally felt my soul draining out of me with every shift I had. I knew there had to be something else I could do that would suck the life out of me.
Eventually, I made my way to Colorado. It was there I made a new home for myself and discovered that work doesn’t have to be as bad. I worked as a project coordinator and project manager for years. It was quite okay. It wasn’t bringing me happiness, but it wasn’t draining me.
I learned that I could be comfortable with what this job provided me. A good paycheck, and low stress. I’m no opposed to a comfortable lifestyle, but I have to admit, I wasn’t happy with this job.
It was at this job that I was chatting about our “no work for a year fantasy” with Cameron. Sometimes, I feel like you have to sit down and dream. Fantasize about what you would do for a year if you didn’t have a job or expenses. Once you conjure the fantasy, work on making your life as close as you can to that dream.
That day, I decided to. It’s led me to where I am today. I’m so thrilled about where I am today.
My life isn’t the exact fantasy I created back then. But its closer than I’ve ever been.
I’m not waking up early to work in a coffee shop. But I’m staying up til 2am to teach English to children in China, which is tons of fun!
I run or ride my bike nearly everyday, just for the health of it!
I am writing. As you can see from this post, I’m writing quite a bit. (and that’s just the writing you see. 😉 Wait till my other stuff comes out!)
I’m pursuing ventures and activities that excite me! Ones that have me looking forward to “Mondays.”
Sure, I’m making less money. Like, a lot less money. I think my mom’s heart would drop to know I’ll likely make around $50,000 USD less than last year job. Don’t worry, I’m doing fine! This isn’t a round about way to ask for money. I like to think the money I’ve “lost” is just an investment into me. And let me tell you, the return on investment so far is high!
I see the return in the mirror when I smile.
I find myself in a very happy spot. Doing the things I want to do. Hiking, learning Spanish, writing stories, performing improv comedy, eating dinner with my flatmates, writing a book, biking in the rain, running in day, exploring when I can.
I’m happy. And this is a feeling I could get used to.
This is a fantasy, I get to call my life.