Next week is my final four days at my public health job. While I am very grateful for this learning and working opportunity, I think the most valuable lesson I garnered from my time there was about myself: I am not a cubicle person. I need personal contact, stimulation, variety and adventure. My current vision of my future includes an assortment of ventures to support my needs. I want to do freelance nutrition writing for magazines and online content; I want to grow produce and make herbal remedies for my community farmers’ market; I want to help people achieve their health goals by doing personal nutrition consulting; I want arts and craftiness back in my life.
I initially read about voluntary simplicity and purposeful living in college. When I turned 25 one week ago, I decided it is time to take these philosophies, which I hold close to my heart, seriously, to practice them and not just dream about them. Leaving a secure job in this economy is nothing short of scary. However, I like to think of myself as a thrifty, creative and frugal person. And I am immensely lucky to have enough freedom to make this life-altering choice. People keep asking me if I have another job lined up. My answer is, “Well… I have an internship!” (The closest “legitimate-sounding” description for a series of dates with different farms across southeast USA.) Their next question is, “Does it pay?”
I’m realizing that I am developing a mindset much different from that of the average person. I don’t want to worship or rely on money for my needs. I know this sounds naive, but it is indeed my goal.
I wrote the following in a journal entry on my birthday:
Something about the nice, round number 25 makes me feel that a lot of good things will develop this year. Many also feel that 2012 is an auspicious time for change. My friends gave me a blue tiger eye stone, which they said protects you on your travels and wards off anxiety. I will keep it close. “This year I’ll try to only listen to myself.”* This year I want to peel back the layers. I have set myself on a righteous path of rigorous self-actualization. I will work to shed the ego this year, to dig deeper into who I am and who I want to be. This is the year of Getting My Hands Dirty. I believe this is the year I’ll find my life’s calling. I will also reconnect with those closest to me. I have not felt “home” in a long time. I will regain that this year. I will delve into my spiritual side and release practices and thought patterns and controls which are no longer serving me. I will become very comfortable in the Now and the path I am on.
This quotation from Chris Guillebeau planted a seed of deep pondering in me, especially the part I italicized: “Sometimes, we let people take over our lives by entrusting judgement to them. We assume other people know better than we do. We assume other people’s priorities are more important than ours. The answer is to stop believing these things… You begin by deciding for yourself what success looks like. Set your own rules. Be clear on what you want and how you’re going to get it.”
It reminds me of the Thoreau quotation that I can confidently say, when I read it, changed my life: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” I think it was when I read these words, I believe via Guillebeau, that I decided to leave my job to pursue my passion instead. Really, what better time than now? What better moment to start doing the things you have always dreamed of doing than now?
As I prepare to leave Richmond, I am parting with a lot of my “stuff” (non-essential, useless, excess). I think this has a lot to do with my shedding process and leaving my old self behind to better uncover my potential and to embrace my new mindset. I remember a time when I felt weighed down by stuff, when all my stuff was an excuse not to jet off somewhere. Changing location is a perfect opportunity to raise the anti-materialism bar. Through this move, I have gotten rid of many things that I never would have if I wasn’t moving – like my kitchen table! Yet, with each item I remove, I’m happier with my space. So open and uncluttered! It is really true that keeping only the most special, bare essentials multiplies their sentimentality and functionality. I now eat at my desk which I moved to the breakfast nook.
“Be willing to live on less and you’ll buy yourself priceless freedom.” – Colleen Kinder
*The Lawrence Arms