If you’re the soul lost on the internet that wound up here, I have one question for you:
I guess you could be here for the fitness articles but if you’re here for the early retirement articles then again I ask:
On the surface it seems like a simple question that could be answered with a simple response but the more I ask myself that question, the more complex the answer becomes. For me, it’s not to avoid my job. I actually enjoy my job. It certainly is freedom, but not just in the “have time to do what I want” sense. It’s to have the freedom to be who I want.
In the process of growing up and having children, the one thing I’ve lost and miss most is the ability to reinvent. This has always been a secret skill of mine and may be the number one reason for my success (whatever limited success that is so far).
In elementary school I was painfully nerdy. I was on the chess club. I went through a period when I thought it was cool to only wear white. I didn’t play any organized sports because since I grew up in center city, I wasn’t exposed to them very much and more importantly, I was scared.
I realized the anxiety and fear was preventing me from being the person I wanted to become so at the end of seventh grade when my parents moved to just outside the city, I decided I was going to reinvent myself.
It took some time to work up my nerve but in the spring of 8th grade, I tried out for the school baseball team.This was the first time I had ever played organized baseball and was competing against kids who had played since tee-ball. It didn’t go well. Frankly, I sucked. And justifiably so, didn’t make the team. If you’ve never had to check a publicly posted sheet to see how you rank with other kids; only to find out you don’t cut it, you haven’t lived. A posted cut list when your 12 is what true grit is made of. I don’t have the slightest clue what the coach’s name was but thank you for the character building.
I was undeterred though. The next year was my freshmen year of high school in a school of 4,000+ kids and I decided to try out for my favorite sport, football. I grinded out the season (frosh football was no-cut) but was on the field for exactly two live plays: one kickoff coverage (it was returned for a TD) and one play at Defensive End where I was called for offsides.
The reinvention was obviously a work in progress.
I went through the winter debating if I was going to make another run at baseball. During that time, I met a few sophomores who played lacrosse and we’re recruiting for the team. I had no idea what lacrosse was but they kept selling it and more importantly to me at the time, stressed how short on freshmen players they were and pretty much guaranteed that freshmen who came out would start on the freshman team. Considering my last two sporting attempts, this sounded pretty good.
And it was. Lacrosse ended up being a sport I was built for. Not that I didn’t still suck first year but but there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel so I went all in. It was a rough year but started every game for the Freshmen team at goalie and by the end of the season had improved a lot.
That summer I got a job at Dairy Queen. By the end of the summer I was offered a manager position there but more importantly it taught me that I didn’t want to me a manager there. In fact, it was a life goal to never work fast food again. When I wasn’t at DQ learning that lesson, I was in front of a brick wall with my lacrosse stick getting better.
When fall came around, I used my new DQ motivation to sign up for a lifeguard training class (I had some free time since I had bailed on the unsuccessful football attempt). This also changed my life. The instructor was also the HS swim coach. Although I had never swam competitively, I lived in a pool every summer since I was one and according to the coach, the team really needed some decent swimmers.
Now I was a swimmer and a lacrosse player. By my senior year I was co-captain of both (in fairness, swimming was because was a vote by the players and did not really reflect my talent or value to the team).
There are many high school movies based on the transformation happening to kids during puberty but, in my slightly biased view, mine was especially amazing.
Mistakes were not made of course. Along the way, I picked up some bad habits from some bad friends in the quest to be cool.
When I went off to college I shed these bad friends and most of my bad habits. My friends in college were much more inline with who I was inside and who I continue to be today. I was still a bit of a crazy wing nut however.
After graduation, I cleaned up and straightened out more becoming more corporate which has worked out well for my career but long for the freedom to morph and grow into my next phase of life. As long as I work, it will prevent me from changing due to all of its comfort and golden handcuffs.
And that is why I want to retire early.