One thing I have been very bad at over the past few years is reading. I use to read plenty of books when I was younger, I would lap them up, browsing shelves at my grandparents or holiday locations and sample books I would possibly not read otherwise. It was a great way to learn something new and also challenge myself to read subjects I would probably never consider otherwise.
So I have made a conscious effort to start reading again now I have the freedom. I have a stack of book titles to go through and am looking at randomly picking books off my kindle listing. I read a few books while on holiday and now spend at least an hour reading each day. It is great to sit down and read a book while enjoying the sunshine. I have also been reading blog posts too, which has been really good for me as it has helped me to realise I am not alone with my views on life.
I have just been reading F2P’s guest post over on TFS’s site. Her views and comments ring so true with me. I enjoy reading her posts and really need to read more of them. I too remember reading ‘Status Anxiety’ and it was such an eye-opener at the time (I also read ‘No Logo’ by Naomi Klein). I remember going into work and analyzing the profiles of each of my work colleagues and which anxieties they suffered from. My old workplaces were stacked to the rafters with status driven people suffering from a myriad of anxieties. Plenty were following the herd instinct and buying things because others who they admired did. Others were keeping-up-with-the-Jones types who were always trying to outdo their colleagues and friends with bigger/better houses, cars, holidays, etc….
The two statements that ring true with me personally are:
- Rely on external cues to validate our personal worth.
- Believe our present self is never quite good enough.
I worked hard to gain social status through my job. My family background isn’t good and I was the only child to do a degree. I worked hard to get there and achieve to prove that I wasn’t a misfit and useless. I was bullied at school and always told that although clever, I would come to nothing. A quote I think I have said before, my school career adviser said I just needed a job to occupy me until I married and had children!
I saw my job as my proof of ‘self’ and that without a job I was nothing, I had a target and my personal critic was always saying ‘I am not good enough – must do better’ (which is why I am having a few anxiety problems now I am not working). It has been my external symbol of self worth for so long as I am not very trusting/shy and so probably don’t present myself well when meeting people and feel that my job is some kind of badge of honour to enable me to be accepted by others.
My ex-partner’s family were very status driven and after I while I started to see the sibling competition and ‘Jones’ attitudes as something I didn’t like. Perhaps one of the reasons why the relationship eventually broke down.
I was at Step#3 in F2P’s article, I was climbing the ladder and doing all those expected things – but felt empty. Now I am on my own, I started to pursue FI with the view that I would like to be happy through having the time to grow friendships and family connections, both have suffered due to my work life taking priority. I don’t want to be a lonely workaholic.
So the journey to Freedom and happiness begins.. 🙂