I wrote yesterday about the question BB asked me at lunch, and today I got an email from a dear friend and former co-worker sharing a perspective of my blog I wasn’t aware of. The perspective: that I’m bitter about my job and unappreciative of the fact that it helped to get me where I am. Wow….
I know several former co-workers read the blog so I’m going to digress and address some misperceptions. I’m guessing the emotion around reading my blog would probably be the same whether I left or retired, but to think that after leaving a job I’m in some way still obligated to be a cheerleader for it — at least in a personal blog — is quite surprising. To also think that the very fact that I was able to retire at 41…which I talk about all the time…isn’t in some form an informercial for working hard, saving, and investing is also surprising.
If in reading my story…reading the bitterness or disdain I have for decisions I made before retiring…when reading that, please know that the bitterness and disdain is for myself. For the decisions I made. For the sacrifices I made. For the priorities I set. Any bitterness or disdain is for not realizing sooner in my life — when I younger — some of the things that have become so very important to me at 41. Like so many of my co-workers, I want a family. I want someone to come home to. Someone to wake up and experience life with. I’ve talked about this so much through my postings, but I guess it wasn’t clear. I’m bitter because it took me this long to learn those things about myself.
At the same time, though, like I said in my blog yesterday, “…there’s no way I can regret my past decisions…they’ve led me to this exact moment in time…and I’m truly happy to be right here, right now.” I don’t know how much clearer I can be…how much more appreciative I can be of the opportunities I was given in my career. Without a doubt, I know that I needed every single one of the struggles to end up where I am now. I know I needed to experience the pain..the joy…the friendships…the frustrations to make my way through a lot of the personal baggage I carried. And because of working through all that, I’m finally free of a lot of my shit and learning a new way to live.
Did I need the financial security to be able to walk away — without a doubt. I retired, people. I had to work my ass off to get to where I am and I’m cool with that. We each get to decide what our goals are…what we need…what we want out of life. And we make decisions based on those factors. We’re each unique in our quest. Maybe you love working an 80 hour week…that charges you up. Maybe you love how excelling in your career makes you feel…maybe you work the job you do so your family is proud…taken care of. Maybe you hate the idea of doing nothing…of doing yoga…of “finding” yourself because you were never lost. We each have a unique journey…unique talents and desires…unique ways of feeling valued.
Was I too insecure to leave my job sooner, probably. It became my family. I gave it my all…I pushed myself to excel because that’s how I started to build my personal self worth (and my bank account). I am forever in debted to the people that believed in me — sometimes even when I didn’t believe in myself. For giving me the chance to grow into the potential they saw. Without a doubt…I can’t say thank you enough.
If anyone is reading something less than that in my blog, I’m sorry. I try not to write about work a lot because this journey isn’t about work. My old life was all about work…this journey is about the realization that we are who we are based on what we’ve done…and that it’s never too late to step into parts of yourself that you tucked away…to step into your whole being and live a fulfilled life. I lived a half life for almost 41 years. I think most people learn these lessons earlier than I did. I think those people are incredibly lucky.
To further clarify, I’m writing my blog for a couple of different reasons: (1) I want to be able to look back at how I’ve grown…evolved…lessons I’ve learned…my experiences over this magical year. (2) It’s a driving force in making me completely aware of how quickly time passes and how I don’t want to waste a single day of it. (3) I want to be a writer — like a book — and this is a way for me to see if I like writing…if I’m good at it. (4) If after all that, I can inspire someone…if I can help one person through a candid sharing of my experience to know they aren’t alone…if I can encourage someone to follow a passion…make a change…take a leap…I’d be both honored and humbled.
I’m not advocating for people to quit their jobs. I’m not telling people they need to chuck it all…leave the rat race…do yoga everyday. I’m not telling anyone to do anything. I’m sharing my experience with the time and freedom I’ve earned. If someone is going to question their job…their life…whatever, they are going to do that regardless of what I write. They’ll just read another blog or a self help book until they find what they are looking for. People will find what they are looking for no matter where they look.
What I hope I am communicating via my blog…to the people that choose to read it…is that life is short. Do what makes you happy. If you can’t do what makes you happy all day, every day, find a way to at least make it a part of your life. Find your joy. Figure out your personal legend. Feel in control of your life and make decisions that honor yourself and your loved ones. Don’t shrink away from the parts of yourself that aren’t perfect. Don’t fear being misunderstood. If you are true to yourself…if you follow your heart…everything will be ok.
I guess the bottom-line is this: I’m completely appreciative of where I am and how I got here. I wholeheartedly know I wouldn’t have been able to retire without the financial freedom and the character growth I gained from working the jobs I did. Am I making some significant life changes, yes. Might I be influencing some people, maybe. Am I going to worry about it, absolutely not. I feel good about every post I’ve written and don’t feel I’ve bashed anyone or anything…except maybe The Taste (but he deserved it). Besides this is just a blog…and if you don’t like it, don’t read it.
Thank you for asking me questions I don’t like. Thank you for sharing perspectives I don’t agree with. Thank you for being candid with me. But most importantly, thank you for letting me be me.