Living a Nontraditional Life
Christmas is a weird time for me. I enjoy the holidays. But during the holidays there is definitely more family time. Relating to family is sometimes awkward. I won’t say difficult. I have a great family. We love each other very much. Awkward is a better word. Everyone in my family has followed that traditional American path. Graduate from high school. Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Have kids. Start saving money and investing. Go on vacations.
I’m not leading that life. I didn’t necessarily CHOOSE to not lead the traditional American life. It just happened. I didn’t think leaving the corporate world and going to massage school would be that much of a change. I had no idea what a different lifestyle being a massage therapist would be. You don’t think working for yourself would be such a big deal, but it is. Suddenly health insurance is an issue. And vacations are a whole different world. When you don’t have paid vacations, you aren’t just saving up for the vacation. You are saving up to pay for the vacation AND the money you will not be making when you are on vacation. It makes time off twice as difficult. I’ve had a lot of “stay-cations” since I became a massage therapist.
My husband DID choose to not lead the traditional life. He graduated from high school early and did not go to college. He worked in retail until he bought an existing retail store. Then he sold that one and started from scratch with his own business. Neither one of us wanted to have kids. Which was one of the many things that attracted us to each other.
So, now we are married with no kids. I run my own small business and my husband runs his own small businesses. We don’t take a lot of vacations because all our money is invested in our businesses. We aren’t saving money or investing because, well, all our money is invested in our businesses.
I love my life. I feel as if I listened to myself and somehow figured out how to be in this world on my terms. However, it comes with some down sides. My family can’t relate to me. I’m walking a path they know nothing about. Sometimes I feel left out. But I know in my gut that I wouldn’t be happy living their life. So, we do our best. We try to relate through other things like movies and books and talking about what’s going on in the family.
My friends can’t always relate to me either. I have one friend who is walking the same path as me. We both understand that our work hours are crazy and that, in some ways, we are always working. It’s hard for other friends to understand that. They don’t understand why I don’t have every week night off, or Saturday for that matter. They don’t understand why we don’t want to go out to eat all the time or take vacations. Remember that whole “all our money is invested in our business” thing? It makes for a tight budget.
But here’s the thing. My husband and I are living for our future. Just around the corner, all the seeds we have sown will sprout and blossom. And life WILL be a lot easier, and a lot freer. Definitely freer than a 9-5 job!
And here’s another thing that is a benefit. I feel like I have some control over how much I make. When the “Great Recession” hit, it was a relief to know I wasn’t relying on a company to make my money. I wasn’t worrying about being suddenly laid off. I had some control. If I needed to make more money, I could go out into the world and try to gather up more business. (Which I did.) Was it a guarantee? No. But neither is keeping your job or finding a new job when you lose one.
I think, in the end, we are all taking gambles with the choices we make in life. If you decide to have kids, there is no guarantee that child will be born healthy. Or that child won’t grow up to be an asshole. It’s a gamble. And it is a gamble the will affect every part of your life.
Life is a gamble. So, you might as well gamble in a way that makes you happy. Gamble in a way that the reward is greater than the risk. I guess what I’m saying is that, I may be living an nontraditional life, but we all still have life gambles and concerns. We have the same goals. We are just going about it in a different way. So, at least that’s something to relate to, eh?
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