We didn’t start out wanting to be different. He’s a very typical Canadian white boy – plays hockey, drinks beer, went to university. She’s your typical Asian girl – over-achieving, likes to eat out, ambitious. Both graduated university with mega-debt. Both got good jobs almost immediately. We were well on our way to living the Canadian version of the American dream. Or were we?
Pretty early on, we realized that the things that were important or interesting to us would not be accomplished through living an ordinary life. He was working his way through the ranks of management glory – bought the car, the fancy suits, put in 50-60 hours a week at his job… But it wasn’t what he was passionate about. She had a solid career, a pension, and was well on her way to unionized middle management glory… But it wasn’t what she wanted in life. We were doing all the right things, but none of it brought us closer to our passions.
We wanted to travel and see the world. We had dreams of real estate empires, books, vineyards and self-sustainability. We didn’t want to work because we had to – we wanted to work because we wanted to. We wanted the flexibility of doing something we enjoyed without sacrificing our life for our job.
So we had to make changes.
I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. From Day 1, I was an arts kid. I love to draw, to paint and to create. And I was pretty good at it! My parents were so proud when I entered stories into contests or when I brought home my latest painting. But when it came to choosing a career, there was only two options: Medicine or Science. My grades were “too good” to “waste” on the arts. I chose Science and regretted it since.
At 22, I got graduated and went to work immediately in a field I was never interested in: health care research. Why? That’s where the money is, of course. And with over $40000 in debt, I didn’t have much choice!
At 24, I said, WTF and realized I had to take control of my money. Over the next year and a half, I nuked $15k in debt.
At 25, I abandoned my career path and went back to school. For the first time in almost a decade, I wrote for the pleasure of writing – stories, essays, blogs. Everything. I decided not to live an ordinary life.
At 26, I’m a published writer. I get paid to write, to blog, to review. I am one short year from graduating in Computer Science – a career that allows me more flexibility in career and greater capacity for creativity than scientific research ever did. I travel, I eat, I drink… I live life simply.
I never wanted to be different. Raised in the rural middle class, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my life would look like. Go to school, graduate, get a job, buy a car, buy a house and be on my way to domestic bliss.
During university I began to question these social ideals. After my second year of school, I decided that I would spend the summer abroad. I spent three months living and working in Paris, France and one month traveling through the rest of the Europe. This freedom and chance to explore was incredible. It made me realize how important experiences are. I seriously questioned why I was going back to school to eventually get a job that would not allow me the freedom I had just experienced.
Determined not to be tied down, I turned my experiences into jobs and I now work in the management and event planning field. While I enjoy my job, it is still just that, a job. In order to be truly in control of my life and my experiences, I know that I cannot be like everyone else.
We’re still working at it. Financial, personal and philosophical goals guide us. Each day, we get closer to our goals and along the way, we’ll share some of those stories.