When I was 7 years old, I asked my dad, “What am I?”
No, I wasn’t some sort of existential genius baby, I just wanted to know where I stood. We decorated a tree every December, but we’d stopped going to church and never said grace like our cousins. Were we Christian? Methodist? Protestant? Something cool like Catholic where you could unload all of your wrongdoings onto a man sitting in a box?
“You can be whatever you want to be,” my dad replied.
Oh great, I thought. No pressure!
I floated through the next decade asking myself, “What do I want to be?” But I could never decide. The question was too big for me.
In fact, the question never became anything less, but eventually I cobbled together a set of beliefs based on what seemed like the best of
ABC’s Friday night line up the best.
In May 2016, when I upset the earth’s balance by foregoing all things bacon and cheese, I never anticipated that my DIY belief system would experience another revelation as a result: Financial independence. Like most people, I assumed I would have to work until my liver gave out and nothing short of suing Quaker Oats for destroying the roof of my mouth would save me.
But over time, as I started finding ways to up my environmentalism game, I realized I was accidentally saving money.
By moving to a 300-square foot apartment in November, that suddenly became a lot more money.
The old plans didn’t make sense anymore.
I started poring over my accounts and listening to investing podcasts. I rejiggered my portfolio and took a hard look at every expense. I argued with Comcast for two hours to get the best deal. In the process, I asked weird questions like, “How
many bottles of wine much money does a person really need?” and “Do I care who cuts my hair?” and “What the hell is in that UV nail gel anyway?”
The less stuff I had, the less I wanted. But then came the really scary part. If I actually achieved financial independence, I’d be responsible for creating a world that didn’t revolve around making money. Once again I’d have to ask: What did I want to be?
This is a very privileged question to ask, I realize. And I’ve got a ways to go.
And I really like my job. And I’m not just saying that because my boss sometimes reads this blog. But in the meantime, I’d love to know:
If you never had to earn another dime, who would you be?