I first met Jane (yea, that’s her real name) in 2008 when we were both corporate slaves. The modern day form of slavery replaced cages for cubicles and ours were side by side. I knew her as quirky, fun loving and a hopeless idealist. We kept in touch over the years. I was not overly surprised to hear recently that she has packed her bags for what I have no doubt will turn out to be a totally awesome adventure.
At BigFatPurse we have always suggested that financial freedom is but a state of mind. Jane is a good demonstration of that. Here is her story.
Hola! My name is Jane and here is my story from Rosario, Argentina.
This time last year, my life was vastly different. I was a full-fletched corporate yuppie, donning sleek power dresses and 3-inch (at least) stilettos day after day. I hung out in the thick corporate jungle, rubbing shoulders with well-dressed executives and occasionally checking out random suave-looking men on the streets.
I excelled in my training consultancy portfolio. My career was heading towards its peak and I had the ability to lead a life fuelled by material consumerism and sassiness. I had a wardrobe of clothes, bags and shoes that could feed a small village. I drove a modest car and was toying with the idea of purchasing my first property.
The power and ability to consume felt good and things looked perfect on the outside.
However, I had an issue. Or a problem, if I could use a stronger word. It was a monster that gnawed deeper at me day after day. In my desperation, I held endless conversations with it, hoping it would eventually shut up.
I even attempted to stuff its mouth with more money and material goods thinking those would placate it. Unfortunately, it was a formidable force that was to be reckoned with and I had clearly underestimated its prowess.
I was not happy
Amidst all the glitz and glamour of what success seems to be, I was not happy. I felt empty, lost in the sea of things I had possessed, and blinded by the seduction of what I thought money could buy.
Sure I felt attractive and powerful whenever I donned a new pair of designer shoes, took my designer bags for walks and wore new expensive clothes, but those moments of joy were fleeting. They were gone as fast as they came, and my life was in perpetual transience. The sense of security was fake and non-existent.
You see, I had largely been moderated by social expectations and corporate excess in the last 2 decades or so.
When I was young, I loved the arts and performing on stage made my heart swell. I started singing and learning the organ when I was 5, got my hands dirty in art and craft classes and had my first dance performance at 6.
When I discovered literature and theatre, my love affair with them blossomed and we had an intense time together; I spent all my time in junior college reading scripts, directing plays, perfecting my acting skills, deciphering symbols and metaphors and perpetually asking “why” questions, some of which I still (and may forever) have no answers to.
It is therefore, no surprise that wanderlust has always been in my blood – my biggest seduction has always been the World Atlas. I can stare at it for hours in wide-eyed wonderment, thinking how life for people is like at the other end of the world.
I love people and nature – knowing and understanding how people live their lives, their hopes and desires, watching the trees sway their leaves in the wind, seeing the first peek of the snow-capped mountains, listening to birds chirping in the distance, witnessing fluffy clouds change formations and create new images.
Creation and life fascinate me. I spent a fair amount of time after graduating from school trotting the globe in a backpack, got miserably broke but I still wanted more. So I extended my fantasy by joining the aviation industry as a flight stewardess, and my inner goddess and I had a fabulous time experiencing life, love and passion on every single place we could set foot on. Those were beautiful times.
But with all stories, a twist has to come. At some point, I decided that I was having too much fun and I needed to grow up (!?!?!!). I told myself that I am nearing my big 3 and I should start settling down and do jobs that were more “credible” and “respectable”.
The Corporate World beckons
So I threw myself into the corporate world, the same one I hated and promised myself never to set foot into when I was 18, wholeheartedly and most willingly by myself. It is so funny, because we are often, prisoners of ourselves.
I had a good 7 to 8 years doing “credible” and “respectable” work. I was employed by reputable companies and my resume looked sleek. I was headhunted often and doors of opportunities kept opening for me. Truth be told, I was in a really good space with regards to my career.
Tragically (or otherwise), I knew that was not what I wanted deep down in me. You have no idea how hard I struggled with my rebellious heart, telling her to be still and contented. After all, I had a good life and was living the Singaporean Dream. I was materially comfortable and I think my parents were proud of me. But no, damn heart, that girl has such a life of her own.
She is wilful, stubborn and has such a big appetite for freedom. She has so much love to give, has so much curiosity and naivety in her blood, and being stuck in an environment that is not her abode did not go down well with her. So she revolted.
I was confused and trapped. And I was unhappy. In fact, I got increasingly unhappy, but I was still stubbornly resisting my persistent heart.
The Tipping Point
My turning point came on the day when I started scouting for condominiums I could buy in Singapore. I mean, most of my friends had started buying their own pads and I should not be lagging behind in the material chase. I did my sums and started looking at potential buys.
However, instead of feeling tremendously excited, I felt tremendously burdened. And that was when I asked myself the million-dollar-question: will I be happier spending all my money on a new apartment, getting into a nice huge debt, then working my arse off and coming home tired, lifeless and empty, my only consolation being to sip expensive wine and to have a cigarette on my swanky apartment balcony at the end of another stressful work day?
Or will I rather spend the money on moments where I can feel the wind in my hair, form new connections, meet new people, experience passion in new places, and keep getting my heart stirred with each new things I learn, see and do? The answer was clear, I obviously wanted the latter.
That was when I started asking myself what is the life I wanted. For the first time ever, I wondered why I kept telling myself I had to fit into the Singaporean life. Please don’t be mistaken, I love Singapore because I grew up there, but I also know that the life she offers isn’t something I am looking for at this point in time. I wondered why I gave myself no other options to explore other possibilities.
It is funny, no? That we always think we have to change ourselves to fit into a situation, clearly forgetting that there is a huge universe out there waiting for us to explore.
That realisation was both scary and exciting. Scarier than exciting honestly, because it is akin to jumping into the deep blue ocean and not knowing what there is down there waiting for me. Oh man, it is VERY scary.
But sometimes, we know that we have come to the end of the path, the one that leads to the cliff where we only have 2 choices: to jump or to stay. And I knew I had come to that, where I had to decide to stay trapped in my unhappy lifestyle, or jump into the new unknown, with no expectations of what will come.
Life is so hard sometimes huh? First world problems. After months of soliloquys and agonizing debates between my brain and my heart, my heart won.
I decided to SCREW IT and jump.
Sure it doesn’t make sense. In fact, it is definitely a stupid, silly, crazy and senseless decision; who gives up their good careers in their 30s because they want to explore, learn and discover more?
Well, I am. Yes it doesn’t make sense, it is silly and naïve, but that’s what I choose to believe and live for. I will rather be silly, naïve, alive and happy in my quest for dreams, than to be spiritually dead, boring and trapped in the monotony of mindless tasks.
So I tendered my resignation, packed my bags and came here to Argentina as my first stop. I have no plans of what I am going to do, where I am going next, because I am so sick of planning for everything. I just want to go with my heart because deep down, we always already have the answers.
Life has been great so far. I have been learning Spanish, living life amongst the locals, and that is exactly what I am looking for – new connections, love and passion. I will probably go to Buenos Aires next to live for a month or two, then somewhere else. I don’t know, we will see where life takes me.
Money does not buy happiness
One thing I have learnt about money is this – money doesn’t buy happiness, and we will NEVER have enough money. I had spent long enough time saving and guarding my money with my life, clearly forgetting that I could never bring them into my grave with me.
And while all that was happening, opportunities to explore, learn and discover were flying by, right before my eyes. My dreams are slipping through my fingers because I wasn’t brave enough to embrace them. Sure, money allows me to be here and do I am doing now, but it really is just a tool for my dreams, as with a lot of other things in this world.
I was never born rich, neither was I brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth, but that doesn’t make me worship money like it’s God. And if you think about it, there are always ways to make money if we want it bad enough. I have been exploring ideas of being a global employee and working from anywhere in the world, and in my field of profession as a coach and facilitator, the possibilities are endless.
However, I will never have considered this path if not for the clarity of my dreams; if you ask me, clarity in what we want to do is definitely a whole lot more valuable than money.
And time. Time is everything. Forget the day you will do what you want when you have enough money. Because, my friend, that day may never come.
Life is a tricky and fleeting concept that we should really never take for granted. Simply because we have absolutely no control over it. I will rather get on with the programme and seize this beautiful day I have been given, than waiting for the perfect time to come. There is no perfect time.
I hope this article has re-ignite some (wild) dreams in your heart and you will seize the day and live today like it’s your last too. It’s so beautiful to dream big and wild, and feel contentment doing exactly what you want to do…so will you come do it with me?
Go take a peak into that can of worms chucked deep in Pandora’s Box. Who knows, your life could just change forever.
To read more about Jane, pls visit her blog here
Dive, snowboard and have moved house five times in the last ten years. Miraculously filled up every single page in my passport before it expired. Manage risk for a living.