When you take a hiatus from work and “real life” — no matter how brief — you’ll feel great. You’ll feel refreshed, recharged and you may even re-obtain a tiny shard of your long-lost soul.
Then, you go back to work.
At first everyone is cheery, asking questions like “How was your time off?“ Tactfully followed with the dreaded: “You missed a lot when you were gone“.
Then the smiles are over. Your time off (which may have been one of the best spans of time in your life) doesn’t really matter much to anyone else. That piece of your soul starts ripping itself out all over again. *
You’ll start to get depressed as you sit in your cubicle, sipping a shitty cup of coffee from the community Keurig, occasionally smiling about the good time that you had been having.
Your smile fades when you realize how many mass emails you’ll have to sort through to figure out which ones are actually important. Oh shit! You forgot to turn on your Out of Office Reply and people are upset that they can’t get a hold of you. On top of that, the boss wants to see you in his office ‘first thing’.
What a warm welcome back to “real life”.
It’s okay though. you have a few more days of vacation this year. You can take another break in about six months from now. Over that course of time you’ll have sorted through 10,000 emails, sat in 300 hours of traffic and encountered countless hours of inter-office drama.
When you talk to the other drones, they seem oddly complacent living this lifestyle. This is due to the fact that they think their arrangement is permanent. I am a teacher. I am a computer programmer. I am a ditch digger. They don’t realize that there’s a way out. They’ve been brainwashed for years into thinking that this is the American Dream.
The “real world” seems pretty bleak, and offers a lifestyle that is nothing shy of constrictive. Even the most exciting of jobs will soon feel like a chore after the “new” feeling fades away.
But you have an Ace up your sleeve. Something that your co-workers who are contented with being lifers do not. You’ve become interested in personal finance. More importantly, you’ve become interested in Financial Independence.
You realize that you don’t need to live by the typical American standards of wastefulness and excess. You realize that saving and investing money can reduce the length of time spent working for somebody else. You realize that money can buy your freedom.
You might try to talk about these crazy concepts that you’ve been learning about to your friends, peers or family members. They may think you’ve gone crazy. You’ll feel like an anomaly. These people just don’t get it…
They don’t get it. But we do.
There are literally millions of people who are actually interested in finance. There are people who are deviating from the norm everyday; defying the preconceived social rules that determine how long people have to work for, and how much they need in the bank to retire.
Personally, I feel like Neo from the movie The Matrix, who is suddenly unplugged from the machine and understands what the world is actually about. You should feel like this too. Stand up from your cubicle and look around. Do you really want to be in this place for the next few decades?
We need to embrace this communal notion and we have to nurture it. We should make every attempt to surround ourselves with like-minded people who share the same financial values that we have adopted. And we need to continue learning, because it will empower us and keep us on course.
Even if you don’t know anyone in the “real world” that cares about Financial Independence, just remember that you do have us, the Internet FI-ers. Believe it or not, we are real people and we really do care about finances.
We can have a laugh together about the mistakes that we’ve made in the past, and the mistakes that our friends and neighbors continue to make every day. More importantly, we can look to the future and plan what we’re going to do during Early Retirement, and how we’re going to get to that point.
Whether you’ve been on the FI track for years, or you’re brand new to the concept, just know this: You aren’t in this thing alone.
* On the other hand, you might have a job that you absolutely love. But trust me, you’re in the minority by a long shot.