by Life Anthem on September 7, 2013
I’m constantly asking myself to reassess why it is that I do what I do. Why am I so unhappy when someone else controls my schedule? In life there is really only one thing that seems to lock me down, and that is the idea of a career. I think just like the obsession with going to university, the not-so-thought-out philosophy of labeling yourself with a field of work and building a life around the ideas behind a career and being “career-oriented” are just too constraining for me. Getting out of that mindset once you’ve been in it for a while is hard too.
I wrote this post on how to make yourself feel at home no matter where you are. I didn’t use the word routine above when talking about feeling constrained in life because I think a routine can be a good thing. The key is to have the ability to break free from that routine when you feel you need to.
I’ve been here in New Zealand for about 4 months now. When I first arrived I was done with my career path, and had quit my job about 3 weeks beforehand. I still had the urge to find a job, and in television too because it was what I knew. By happenstance I stumbled upon a position in PR and Communications with a small place and did a short contract. Now that I’ve got a little chunk of Kiwi money in the bank here I’m feeling sorted on that front and enjoying some freedom and flexibility in my day-to-day. This is important for me because I’m going through daily self imposed lesson on how to live this way. I keep busy, just with activities that I choose. Activities that enrich my life instead of feeling pressure from outside of myself to do something, to fit in where I don’t want to. It’s good.
It’s interesting that my biggest challenge at the moment is learning to chill. Learning to chill the mind and go with the flow. I used to be that way as a kid and a teenager and even in my early 20s. I wasn’t afraid of much and had dreams about cool adventures. For a while that all seemed stifled and somewhat frivolous. It was the daily grind of a career-focused life that sort of put water on the fire. That all had the opposite effect on my life from what I was told. You have to wonder if that system is in place as a way to make each of us just another worker bee, cogs churning out product to keep the system going for the few at the top. I don’t know, but what I’m slowly figuring out is that if you turn off the fear for a bit and just jump, you’ll find out your mindset changes so fast and so drastically, that you can’t even remember the old you.
It’s as if these daily meditations, these techniques for molding one’s life into the bespoke shape that fits their personality, is like cleaning house. If your house has gotten messy over the course of a year, it’s probably going to take a year or more to get it truly clean again.
I’m making Auckland my base for now to chill around the house, work out, make new friends, paddle board at the nearby beach and go wandering around just to think. I’m planning some road trips soon and Spring is here, Summer’s right around the corner. This is good. I’m in a good space. Learning to chill is a top priority.
by Life Anthem on July 30, 2013
There are parts of life we cling to. It feels uncontrollable at times. We know that if we could just do without that need, we would feel free and be all right. It’s like a hunger.
Our careers, or jobs, can do this to us. You get the call that you’ve been chosen for a role and from that moment, your sense of pride for that job morphs into a sense of identity. I can’t imagine any job that a person should gain a sense of self from. You are not your job. You do a job to make money, to learn, to grow even; but you are not your job, and you never will be.
Today I woke up, and after a good night of sleep, and almost by chance, I came to a realization. I found myself gazing out a window at work with a smile on my face. I felt like I had taken a real step forward. I felt myself let go of an attachment to the work. I felt a sense of purpose outside of my job again and it has been a great day. It is manifesting itself physically as well in more smiles and laughter. My sense of purpose, adventure and happiness is coming from things like the joy of planning trips, talking with friends and taking walks out in the sunshine. This is where a sense of self should be derived.
It just happened. I tried and tried to be present and little moments of joy would shine through, but they were always during hikes or while I was out in the water paddle boarding. Even then I didn’t feel as great as I thought I should. It took me more than a few weeks to realize this sense of actual self again. It’s like my mind plays tricks on me sometimes, and I’m sure it’s not much different with many others.
You get angry at work when you feel as though someone stole your ideas, or that they didn’t give you enough credit. The trick is to learn to not need that credit or feel ownership over those ideas. Those ideas could mean money for some, so modifications to this theory must be made, and of course money isn’t everything; but with anything, there is a cost benefit ratio that needs to be calculated. In my case, it doesn’t benefit me at all to care one bit about how my work is remoulded or used while I’m in this office. I still get paid exactly the same at the end of the month, and my CV will look exactly the same in the end. I’m not going to become a complacent and lazy worker. I take pride in doing a great job at a task, but I do not have the ability as a human to identify myself with a job or a career. I am not a “Journalist” or a “PR Advisor” or a “Communications Expert”. I am a human being who wants to live and feel alive.
I am in an office again for now, but I broke free from the last place I was in and I’ve gained the confidence to know that I can completely change my life and say goodbye to the old location and people and company and career. I’ve taken a leap forward, or a small step, depending on how you look at it. I’ll be taking many more soon.
by Life Anthem on July 30, 2013
Make Yourself At Home
I’ve been in New Zealand for about a month and a half. If I went through all of the things I’ve been up to in that time, you might get either bored, or overwhelmed.
As soon as I landed, the frantic search to secure respectable work ensued and that was about 2 weeks of anger, sadness, joy, loneliness, rejection and then elation when the perfect role showed its face. And I got it.
I moved from a smaller bungalow right next to the city to a large house right next to the beach. I share with 3 others and there is tons of space and I’m comfortable being closer to all of the natural beauty of the area instead of the city. But this is New Zealand. Everything is reasonably close.
Work has been a learning experience after doing about a decade of 24 hour live television news for the organization that started it all. I’m now working for a community redevelopment organization that is funded by the New Zealand government and the work is more PR than journalism. I think the fact that I haven’t even thought about sitting down to write is a testament to how busy I’ve been.
I got inspired to crack open a beer and write this now because I’ve finally felt more settled in tonight that I have in the whole time I’ve been here. I just returned from a meeting with a local residents organization where we had a lively discussion about what it’s like for them to live in government housing. I loved it more than any of the high level meetings I’ve ever been in. I find ordinary working class people more interesting and smarter than any high profile corporate leader.
I also got a new bed that I love and finally found a wet suit that fits perfect. This is all so so random but it leads to the point that I’m looking to make which is, if you’re ever uncomfortable or homesick or feeling like you’re out of place, just do one thing: Make yourself at home.
No matter if you’re in a house that you’ve lived in for years or in the middle of the woods, figure out some way to have the essential creature comforts that you need to be comfortable and just do what it takes to make yourself at home.
I feel like I’ve gotten that goal accomplished this week, and I know what the future holds, so I’m comfortable and settled. Even if I move to a whole new place, I’ll know now that any place in the world is home as long as things are in order. I know that even a vagabond lifestyle is comfortable if ya just know how to make it feel like home.
New Zealand has revealed itself to be, so far at least, a place that is accepting of people from other parts of the world. It’s also a place that can be incredibly straight forward and easy to get situated and get things done in. There is this great small town feeling here that can show itself in the form of hospitality from strangers or simple ways of doing things.
I remember many days in the past decade when I tried to figure out why I felt so stuck. When I was in college I felt like I could do anything, go anywhere and be anyone. Even before that, I felt this sense that I knew what I was good at and that just about anything was possible. Then I started down this career oriented path. I’m not blaming the company directly, all I’m saying is this: there is a certain prestige that comes with labelling yourself with your job and the company you work for. Even though it won’t get you everything, it will get you noticed. It sounds nice to tell people at dinner and at a party and on LinkedIn that you work for this company that is recognizable. It gets you noticed. That recognition is also a trap. You start to think you can’t ever get satisfaction from another job unless the name comes with some history, prestige and recognition.
When I made the decision to quit, it was something that I knew deep down I had to do. I was going through the same experience that I had in university. When I was stuck studying in all those classes, I knew that I wasn’t meeting my full potential. I knew I would have the chance to be more once I had gotten over that hurdle and out of that environment. I sped through school and didn’t enjoy the journey because there really wasn’t anything there that was allowing me to flourish. It was just a seemingly necessary means to an end. I graduated from school and went straight to London where I started working. It was then, just like my time in Barcelona studying the year before, where I actually started to feel like I was learning. I was learning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, instead of just when I cracked open a book.
Learning is hands on and it’s intensive. You can’t contain learning in a classroom or an office. Learning is meeting with people and understanding just how many personality types and ways of life there are. It’s daunting and impressive and scary and in the end you get so much confidence just by knowing that you were able to be exposed to it all. Learning is exposure.
When you go through those experiences you start to learn tricks to life. Tricks like how to make yourself feel at home anywhere.
by Life Anthem on May 12, 2013
I’ve been preparing for this move for years. Maybe I wasn’t sure until recently if it was actually going to happen, but now that it is, I can’t believe there is still more to do. It’s literally never-ending.
I’m moving from the U.S. to New Zealand. Through the past 3 years, in addition to saving as much money as I could, I was slowly whittling away possessions. If and when I could turn those possessions into money, I would. The issue for me now are the things like software in the box, owners manuals and other things that should be digital, but aren’t. What do I do if I want to sell my electronic devices?
Well when it comes to owners manuals I’m just tossing those. I can look up an owners manual on-line easily and there are always you-tube videos where someone is showing others how to do something on any camera you could imagine. That’s the beauty of the digital world; but what about something like that start-up disc for your Mac? Who want’s to have to keep track of that incase your Mac book crashes and you need it?! Well, oddly enough I can’t find it anyway, so I’m not worried about it right now. If worse comes to worse I’ll just pray that a repairman has a solution. All of this is making me wonder why in the hell these huge companies like Apple would even have people still having to keep track of something like a start-up disc. Also there are so many cables and adapters etc., that come with electronics; so much packaging for everything we buy. It makes me not want to buy anything because of all of the crap that comes with everything. Every time we buy something, there is this responsibility that comes along with it that I hate, but I’m learning what I need to keep and what I don’t. I think there is just going to be a certain amount of risk I have to take to stay light and not feel compelled to lug around all of this stuff.
I think I’m doing great so far. If I don’t see myself needing or wanting something in a month’s time of living normally, I’ll just throw it away or give it away, unless it’s something that I can easily sell. Also if it’s something that I can just borrow, trade or buy cheaply again then I won’t bring it with me. I’m not going to spend money to
re-buy essentials, but I will within reason and if the benefit of carrying it along outweighs having to buy it again then I’ll bring it along. Pretty simple.
I’ve pretty much shredded, burned, recycled, donated, sold and given away anything and everything you could think of.
This is the last week I have to get my life into a couple of suitcases.
To be continued…
by Life Anthem on May 10, 2013
I did this interview for our department newsletter before my last day at work, which was the Wednesday before this writing. The News Letter came out, and it was this sort of surreal experience looking at it in print. Like looking into a mirror, yet with thousands of other people looking into the mirror with me.
Over the last 3 weeks, since I resigned from my job and people started to find out that I was moving to New Zealand, the question that I’ve been asked the most is: “do you know anyone there?”. I don’t know why, but that is such a strange question. Why does it matter? I couch-surfed nearly the entire country of Argentina and didn’t know a soul and left feeling like I was friends with the entire country.
Just now, I finished speaking with an agent at Fidelity Investments. My 401k retirement plan is held there, and I’m having it rolled over into an IRA account and letting an investment manager handle it. Earlier today I sold my car as well. That was a sad sight seeing the vessel that took me to and fro from work to home, driving away as barren as the day I bought it. I’m over it now.
This is happening. A good friend of mine wrote to the group of us guys on our whatsapp messenger group : “I can’t believe you’re actually doing this”.
Well, yes this is happening.
On Wednesday night I randomly fell on the sidewalk and ate a little pavement. My face was just scraped a little and my lip swollen. I didn’t loose my tooth thank god, but what was even harder was convincing everyone that I wasn’t punched in the face by someone at a bar, that I actually did just clumsily fall and, unable to catch myself, ate the sidewalk. I magnified it for a couple of days as a sign that something or some being was trying to tell me something, maybe to stop with my plans. Today, as I’ve had some time to rest and meditate on the situation, I realize that it’s a metaphor for my life. Every time I fall down, I get back up and recover.
So if I am going to fail with this decision, at least I know that I’m going to get back up and fucking try, try again.