In my adult career, I’ve rarely had a “regular” job like the rest of my friends and family; it’s been a series of freelance gigs and client work, spotted here and there with a full-time contract job. That suited me just fine, but I think it always bothered my parents. I’ve never made a ton of money; I’ve struggled throughout most of my life financially; and I have come to the brink of a mental and emotional breakdown.
But one of my most positive traits is my ability to adapt to, create, even crave change. It was that craving for change that ultimately led me to quit yet another part time job early last year and go back to my side business that I’d had simmering for 10 years, once again making it my full time job. The primary motivation behind leaving the last “job” was to go location independent, to become a digital nomad. I didn’t want to be tied down to the same desk in the same office in the same building, day after day after day. That’s just not my style.
Whenever I had a “real” job, I would go into it with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm and optimism. Without fail, that enthusiasm would dim within a few months, and the reality of the job would begin to weigh heavy on my mind. What’s that saying? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Maybe, but my definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, and not learning from the experience. I felt stupid for staying in the same place. I didn’t want to feel stupid anymore.
I can point to several major turning points in my life where I didn’t feel stupid anymore. I was scared, to be sure, but the stupid feeling left. When I moved away from home and struck out on my own. When I made the decision to move to Maine. When I proposed to my now wife. All great moments in the History of Chris. Whenever I have hit my breaking point and realized I was not living the life I wanted (even if I didn’t know what life I wanted), an opportunity either presented itself, or I made one up along the way.
This isn’t a call to arms for all of us to quit our jobs, leave our families, and live life on a tropical island. The whole idea behind being a Part Time Vagabond is that we like having a rudder to keep us on course. It is a lifestyle unlike most that have been accepted in the 21st century. What I’m saying is that when you feel that life is weighing you down, it’s time to think about the changes that will remove that weight.
Happiness is a state of being that we all strive for, but we end up doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, not learning any lessons from the experiment. So we remain unhappy. Most of us are terrified of change, because with the unknown comes risk—of failure, of pain, of embarrassment. We sabotage the change we so desperately need, and things remain status quo.
I can’t live that way. I thrive on change. Maybe you do too. The ability to change, to adapt, makes us better. Survival of the fittest, and all. If you want to be happy in your life, you need to change the status quo to make it work with your goals. You—we—must understand our places in the world by pulling ourselves out of our ruts and exploring. Our responsibilities to family, friends, ourselves, the world…they all rest on our ability to know ourselves and be happy with who we are. I don’t want to live stupidly anymore. Do you?
*note: I edited the “definition of insanity” phrase to correct it. Thanks to my buddy Hokie for pointing it out.