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A few years ago I decided to quit my cubicle job.
That sentence feels like it should come with a second clause, I decided to quit my cubicle job and . . . But the reality is there was no second clause. I decided to quit my cubicle job with no back up plan, and I did it, and I survived.
Now, I had savings, I had supplementary income, I was not completely throwing caution to the wind, but I still look back and think about how I could have done it better. I’m using that experience to help think about how I intend to survive in the RV. But perhaps more importantly, I’m using that experience to help me understand why I feel the need to throw caution to the wind once again. What is it that keeps me from stability? Why do I have this incessant need to take risks?
My first experience with “fun-employment” was not the whimsical fairy tale story of quitting your job, finding your passion, and making all your dreams come true. I was stuck in old habits. I was use to having things and I felt attached to those things. I am embarrassed to admit how much debt I accumulated during this period of my life. I was so accustomed to having everything I wanted that despite normally being an incredibly budget-conscious person, I spent money recklessly.
Thankfully, I’ve learned my lesson, or at least I think I have. As P and I embark on our RV life I feel much more prepared to downsize and stay downsized. I’m more calculated in my approach, embracing more of the principles of minimalism and slowly introducing myself to the habits of tiny living. I’m a planner, so I suppose this part comes easy to me.
When we first started discussing the possibility of moving into an RV I was excited to sell everything, possibly too excited. I started envisioning everything I could possibly live without and created free piles in front of our apartment with little consideration. Free piles, by the way, are a very common occurrence in Portland, OR – like putting your trash out on the corner minus the other rubbish mixed in.
For the most part, I haven’t missed any of the items I put in those piles, except for one important stash: my art supplies. At the time those supplies had been long since abandoned. I decided that considering I hadn’t used them in ages I clearly could do without them. Oh, how wrong I was.
Since purchasing our camper* I have spent more time thinking about how I will fill my days once I’m no longer tied to my 9 to 5 or the hustle and bustle of city-living. Using that time to be creative was the first desire that came to me. Early on in the evolution of the camper decision, P and I were sitting on the couch discussing nothing in particular. Something grabbed my attention and before I knew it I was rambling on and on about this deep intrinsic need I had to be creative and live creatively. Before I knew it, I was so overwhelmed I was in tears.
That’s the wild part of this whole process. It’s not the buying or selling of stuff, its not the trip planning, it’s the mental shift I’m experiencing – I’ve started to re-imagine ideas that I long ago decided were impossible, I’ve started to breath life into them once again. Living creatively and by my own wits was a dream long since crushed by impending rent that was due, or the things I wanted, or the life I thought I wanted to live, a life filled with stuff. Now that I have that life, now that I have that stuff, I’ve realized I never really wanted it in the first place.
Sure, I like nice things, I have nice things, and I was raised for want of nothing, so not having nice things is a mental hurdle with which I’m still struggling. But I’m getting there, little by little, baby steps.
But what I’m realizing more and more is that the things I’m clinging on to are the things that allow me to have experiences and expression. My hiking boots, my climbing gear, my art supplies, these are the things I intend to keep and they all either afford me the ability to experience the world around me or express myself in the world around me. Oh, and books, I’ll be keeping some books. I suppose in a way books live somewhere between experience and expression, so I think I’ll allow them to stay.
Honestly, I’m really excited about this mental shit. As a girl who once wanted to go to art school and has spent the last decade working office jobs, this feels appropriate. It feels like I’m becoming more in touch with who I really am and who I’ve always been. Like I’m finally giving myself permission to say “fuck you” to all of the social expectations I tried to live up to for so many years.
I’m ready, I’m open, and I’m so excited to begin this new chapter of my life!