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?
37 thoughts on “What Is She Doing NOW?”
I am finally what I wanted to be. I worked in Accounting and Finance my whole career, and I “succeeded” and I even like it quite a bit. But now I am doing what I love. I am a novelist. Two books out and a third one in the works. Sometimes it finally dawns on you.
YOU are one of my favorite stories, Nancy! I read (I think in “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron) that when we finally discover what it is we truly want to do, our reaction is usually, “Doh!”
My belief is that freedom from having our world revolve round money and things, leads us back to focusing on people and relationships. For me, that means giving back to those less fortunate and getting involved in helping to nurture kids.
Well said! I almost created a pyramid of “Go Jules Go’s hierarchy of needs” for this post because even though “stability” is so important, I feel like money should never be at the base.
Good for you for asking these tough questions.
I’d like to say I would be a full-time writer, like Nancy, but I don’t know if I have the motivation to really go for it. There’s nothing stopping me from doing that now, after my day job, instead of wasting time in front of the TV.
As you replied to Lone Squirrel, stability is important and money is a means to that end. I have a deep-seated need to feel safe, financially. I would also like to travel more before I get too old, but plane tickets and hotel rooms cost money. I’m past the hitch-hike across Europe phase, and my husband’s health isn’t the greatest.
Keep up all the good work, Julesie – you’re an inspiration!
Oh, boy, are you speaking my language, Peg!! Between the need for stability and TV time, I know how to get myself into a rut.
I was just telling one of my instructors that the reason I stayed with the Masters program (vs. getting the certificate for half the credits) was because I can do a creative project for my thesis, and I’d NEVER have the motivation to tackle something like that unless the threat of a big, fat “F” was looming over me! Even with that expectation, my Netflix usage is cringe-worthy.
Any chance you (and the husband) are up for another Maine trip?!
I would just be.
Ok, fine – I’ve always worked to live. If anyone asks me what I do, I say (in different order depending on the day) parent, husband, writer, cook, sommelier, music director, musician, golfer… so if I were to the point where I didn’t need the money, I’d probably do the same. Just more of it.
If the lack of need came from winning lottery, I’d do all of the above in nicer places.
Ha! Speaking of nicer places, you’re the reason I have Ann Arbor on my list for when I get around to a grand cross country tour – it sounds like such a fun spot!
I think you’ve got it figured out, my friend!
What I like about my job is the social life that comes with it, helping people learn new skills, and occasionally making a difference in the grand scheme of things. What I like doing in my spare time involves being physically active, hiking with my husband, and when we’ve spared the money and time for it, traveling somewhere new.
If I never had to earn another dime, I’d want to work in nonprofit work, ideally with helping women recover from trauma. My dream job would probably fall somewhere around wilderness therapy – something where I get to be outside and active, but I’m also helping people develop coping mechanisms for the issues in their lives.
I have a coworker who said that if she had an extra million dollars, she would invest it in a scholarship. (She said this after I said I’d use the money to travel the world, so yeah – I’m a bit of a hedonist) I really respected that and I think I would want to do that. Essentially, I’d want to help people from lower income brackets gain upward mobility and help them move beyond their situation.
Yeah. That’d be nice.
I bow down to this answer, Liesl! Can I come to one of your future wilderness therapy classes??? (We read about “forest bathing” in Japan as part of my Masters coursework.)
I don’t know if I’ve heard a single person say they’ve found their calling without the element of ‘helping others’ somewhere within it. And I’m so glad you mentioned helping people gain upward mobilty; the article I hyperlinked in “this is a very privileged question to ask” talks about that. There’s only so much ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’ that a person can do if they don’t have the right resources.
You absolutely can come to my wilderness therapy classes! We’ll hike and camp and sleep terribly but it’ll be rad.
Yes, I read that article you linked to! She’s absolutely right – I’ve had a lot of unseen resources that have helped me get to the financially secure position I’m currently in. I mean, I AM a cheapskate, but I’ve also had a lot of good stuff working out for me as well.
I have always, ALWAYS wanted to be a writer. In fact, that’s why I began blogging in the first place. If I didn’t have to worry about paying bills, I would spend my days writing. And perhaps building my boot camp and PT training empire.
Oooh then I’m about to make your day, because you ARE a writer! Isn’t it funny how hesitant we are to take on that title unless we’ve published a book?? (That’s still on my bucket list…of course it would help if I WROTE!)
I love your Boot Camp empire idea, too! You definitely seem to have the right positive, motivating energy for that. High five!
Ha! I always tell people I’m also a writer. It’s the reason I got into blogging (I even did a post on it, years back). High five back at ya!
[thinking intently] Hmmm….
Uncle Jesse. I want to be Uncle Jesse.
Ha! Best answer EVER. Although you might change your mind after you hear that I’ve been trying to teach him “shake” (as in “shake off all of this g.d. snow before you walk into the house!”). It’s not going so well.
From my experience with Comcast, “getting the best deal from Comcast” is a little like getting the most pleasant root canal.
I have to deal with this cable nonsense again next November, and I’m already losing sleep.
Same with the dish TV people. I called a couple of weeks ago to get the fabulous deal they offer people off the street who have NOT been loyal customers for 9 years. I got transferred 4 times as they kept upping the sales/schmooze skills of their New Delhi customer service agents who were trying to keep me as a customer without actually giving me anything.
Oy. I had to call Comcast THREE times in one night (= 2 hours) and thankfully had the name of the first person I talked to (the second person actually threw that guy under the bus – “he makes promises he can’t keep,” HA!). Verizon didn’t make any attempt to keep me when I moved! Those are the only two options here, so if you want the best deal you have to keep switching back and forth every year or two. It’s insane. But I did get a phenomenal deal. Heh. The last thing I have to tackle is switching my cell phone plan… Pray for me.
Ah, an important question given my new-found unemployment. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
Oh boy, I hope this was voluntary! And I hope your future plans involve a Maine Blogging Summit.
Sadly, no. I was laid off. Still reeling.
Elyse, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry. I’m sure a smart cookie like you will be snapped up in no time, but still…praying for good things just around the corner.
Thanks, Peg. It will all work out, but it’s a pain in the patootie!
Sending you lots of positive thoughts, Elyse! I know how unsettled you must feel. I’m going to be obnoxiously optimistic and say that I believe that this is going to be one of those times when something crappy leads to something even better! Feel free to email me anytime if you want to chat.
Thanks, Jules. I agree with you, actually. I try to be obnoxiously optimistic too. Makes for a much better day/life! 😘
I have a very good, well partial, answer to this for you from experience. I had my stroke, my life-changing stroke, in May of 2010. From March 2011 to now, I have been on disability and a pittance I make from many other things, none of which pay much. So, I, essentially, make nothing and live on it. I have spent a long time redoing budgets and all, but finally realize I already am who I want to be. I am a free, loving, spiritual person who follows the Law of Attraction (via Pam Grout as one method). I love me.
Who could ask for better?