This guest post comes from Aiste Lei. She is 24, lives in London and is aiming to take over the world with her photography. You can find out more about her at AisteLei.com. Coming from a post-Soviet country, living my dream was not part of my reality. What was deeply engrained into my mind was that I had to finish school with the best grades, get into the best university, choose the most prestigious course, get a job, and start earning a serious amount of money.
This model is totally unrealistic, especially if you put personal happiness into the equation. The model is given with the best intentions by the parents who grew up and made their careers in the last decades of the crumbling Soviet era when exceptional marks, good degree and just ‘being there’ guaranteed some sort of safe job and a career.
That’s what I did with full heart. Inclined to arts, smart, intelligent, and forward looking I had the tiniest clue what I would like to do. But, I had no better, or even alternative, plan to follow.
I relocated 2000 miles to the west, earned a respectable degree from a prestigious university followed by two years at a low-end full-time job and one year at a part-time job in a respectable, if sluggish, public sector institution. These office jobs terrified me so much, but taught me a great deal. They also gave me enough drive for self-emancipation to last me lifetimes.
Feeling Out of Place
I did my job well, but I wasn’t a great worker. I had no passion in any of it and I wasn’t a pretender. If I wasn’t crafting some sort of business or escape plan in my notebook, I would be people watching in endless meetings. I would watch senior officers, managers, directors. Most of them have started with the same job as I and ended up in a managing role 15 or so years later.
I would watch the way they move, the way they speak, constantly asking myself in awe: “How can they take their role so seriously?” “How can they keep a serious face while talking about the 56th amendment to a strategy document that has nothing to do with them personally apart from giving them a monthly bundle of money?”
There were these guys, totally immersed, if not hypnotised, in their roles and their newly found power of being part of the system; and there were those below them. 7 to 10 years in the same or similar job, feeling stuck, having no clue what they actually would like to do with their lives or having passions they think they would never be able to monetize.
There are all sorts of reasons why they don’t try to change their life: family situations, relationships, circumstances, health. One similarity is that all these people would just keep settling for alright, neither satisfied nor totally miserable. They were investing their monthly income into mortgages, gadgets and social weekend occasions. When asked “y’ al’ght, mate” they would always mumble something like “yeah, not too bad”.
What is the Point?
My mum still cannot understand how I, a graduate from a prestigious London university with a prestigious politics degree, decline opportunities for full-time ‘safe’ office jobs and instead barely make my ends meet working part-time. I have had to learn how to manage my finances and run my business with no safety nets or ‘comfortable’ salary whatsoever.
“Do you have enough to eat? Have you got enough clothes to wear? Do you have enough money?” That is not the point, mum.
There will always be some food to eat and some clothes to wear in the western society that overproduces everything from food to clothes to technology. The real scarcity today is freedom: true authentic social, entrepreneurial, personal, and economic emancipation.
In the fast-paced society where it is OK to work 50 hours a week for someone because everyone always told you that it is the right thing to do, it is very hard to see where the real capital and achievement is. Safety is no longer a prestigious degree and a full-time office job that gives you a ‘safe’ salary to survive and 4 weeks of holiday time to spend it. Safety is no longer in things and material possessions you can acquire with money.
Safety is in that multi-faceted emancipation and empowerment of YOU as an authentic, social, innovative, and economically-savvy entity. YOU take responsibility and initiative to empower YOURSELF to turn YOUR personal capital – intellectual property of any sorts – into a successful mini-business that allows your authenticity and aspirations – YOUR life – to flourish the way YOU find suitable.
The New Era of Freedom
The crumbling economy just proves the point. The new era is not, and will not be about the people who feel stuck and unsure. Nor will it be about the people who rely on their bosses, corporations, private sector, and governments to keep them going.
The new era is about innovative thinkers, responsibility takers, collaborators, believers, creators, visionaries, and “social misfits” who can find the power in themselves to raise from the numbness of monthly apathy and comfort into potential un-comfort, challenge, unknown, risks, adventure and consciously made choices.
It is about people who believe in their own value OUTSIDE any system and then collaborate with the system and others to realize its potency.
Now you can see the real emancipation in turning those 30-50 hours that you spend working for someone into working those hours (or less hours, or more hours!!!) for you and step by step, starting to take an active part in the way you want to live your life.
We are conscious creators.
Note from Caleb: If you are looking to take some risks, build a side income, and escape your day job, check out Sean Ogle's Location Rebel that he is launching today. In Location Rebel Sean teaches you how to build skills rapidly, start gaining clients, and start on the path towards becoming a location independent entrepreneur. Check it out here.