I first came across the ‘Financially Independent, Retire Early’ community about 2 years ago, sometime back in 2016. Back then, I thought it was impossible. I was completely sceptical about it.
It took a while for me to conclude that, “Hey, it’s actually possible”.
It took starting work at a corporate job I hated, to realise that “Screw this shit man, I’m desperate to be financially free.”
Necessity, not Choice
Everyone loves to be able to do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. (Subject to, of course, infringing on the liberties of other people.)
I’m no different.
I hate the idea that we need jobs to provide us with a living. I detest the thought that we need these jobs for money to exchange for food and water. Just to ensure our survival.
While I get that working for yourself and monetizing your passions are totally awesome things to do, working for a corporation that does meaningless work is just suffocating.
You see, the former is born out of choice. Your unfettered, conscious decision to do something. That’s what makes it beautiful.
The latter is what most people do out of necessity. Not because they want to, but because they have to.
And it’s what I’m doing. Because I need a roof over my head and food on the table.
The absence of choice makes me feel drained, helpless, and suffocated. That feeling of being trapped between a rock and a hard place, that feeling of having no viable choice, is the worst.
I suppose that these feelings, for better or for worse, are products of my life experiences.
My Experiences Growing Up
My parents ruled the household with authoritarianism. Whatever they demanded us to do, we had to do.
Disobedience or questioning their choices would bring about consequences. (I still remember my brother crying and writhing on the floor with pain as my father towered over him with a belt in hand.)
We were made to do whatever my parents asked. Whether it was choosing a school, a course of study, a religion, a partner in life, everything was dictated for us.
After all, my parents held all the cards. The roof over our heads, the food on the table, the clothes on our body.
Obedience meant we gave up our freedom of choice, for necessities of life.
Disobedience meant we were out on the streets, struggling with the consequences of our choices.
To me, it just wasn’t much of a choice at all.
That was my life for more than 2 decades.
My Experiences in the Workforce
I found myself in a cubicle when I was 23.
At first, it was all fine and dandy. I was cruising through my probationary period. I enjoyed getting my pay-check at the end of the month.
One day, though, I fell sick. My nose was running like a leaky faucet. My eyes were smarting. I was having the chills. I was running a temperature.
I tried to apply for medical leave. But human resources policies dictated that I wasn’t allowed to, because it was still during my probationary period.
It didn’t make sense to me. I was sick. I wasn’t productive. If I stayed in the office, I would spread the virus to others. It really didn’t make any sense to me.
I was incensed. And a little resentful.
One good thing did come out of that episode of my life though. Enlightenment, my awakening that if you work for others, they dictate the majority of your life.
You don’t question whether their policies make logical sense. You just obey.
In exchange for? They pay you a tiny fraction of their profits in exchange for your time. In exchange for a substantial amount of your life. In exchange for the best years of your life that you can never get back.
I hate that.
Obedience means exchanging my life, for money. (A small sum of money to tuck away for my future.)
But disobedience means no food on the table. It means no roof over my head. (At least until I build my own business or freelance career.)
Again, is there any seemingly viable choice?
The Absence of Choice Spurs My Desperate Desire for Financial Freedom
Between my experiences growing up and my experiences at my first job, I got dejected, wondering if there was any way out.
I thought that maybe, having no choice was just a natural process of life – The rich and powerful have complete dominance over those who don’t have money and power.
I thought that maybe, for the majority of us, all we were meant to do was pay bills and die. But I thought wrong.
A little while later, I was fortunate enough to have stumbled my way into the “Financially Independent, Retire Early” community.
So began my pursuit of financial freedom. My pursuit of endless choices. My pursuit of happiness.
And I haven’t looked back since.