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The alarm wakes me up at 5:40 AM. I get up, shower, scarf down breakfast, and leave the house by 6:30 AM to catch the 6:57 AM train. The train ride is 1 hour and 23 minutes long. During the ride, I spend my time writing blog posts, editing the podcast, and responding to emails. I arrive at South Station in Boston at 8:20 AM and walk 15 minutes to my office.
I sit down, clock in, and begin the nine-to-five grind. 95% of my workday is spent sitting in a cubicle staring into my computer screen. Ideally, I clock out at 5:20 PM to catch the 5:40 PM train back home. Again, I spend the entire train ride blogging, editing, or doing administrative things for my side hustles. The train pulls in at 7:03 PM (when there are no delays) and I get into my car at 7:10 PM. Finally, I drive 10 minutes to the gym, spend 45 minutes to 1 hour there, and get home around 8:45 PM.
I wolf down dinner and then, depending on the night, I either record a podcast, write content, plan social media posts, answer emails, or [insert laundry list of other tasks]. I typically get to bed around 11:00 PM and then repeat that exact same routine every single day of the week.
A Reality Unknown
I’m not looking for pity. I know that I am beyond fortunate to live in America, have a roof over my head, know where my next meal is coming from, earn a great income, enjoy amazing family and friends, and so much more. However, despite all of this fortune, I still wake up each weekday with feelings of disdain, weariness, and entrapment.
If you’re like 67% of Americans, you probably feel the same way. Now, here’s where the dilemma ensues: Is financial independence a blessing or a curse?
At my office, and at offices around the country, I know that many employees have similar feelings about their nine-to-five jobs. However, these same employees have been stuck in the hamster wheel for so long that they forgot what it feels like to stop running.
These complacent, unfulfilled employees have accepted this routine as their reality, and see no chances of escape. They show up, clock in, do their job, clock out, get home, de-stress, and continue the cycle for 40+ years in the hopes that, someday, they can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The craziest part? Despite the monotony and lack of purpose experienced by many of these employees, they have convinced themselves that “it’s not so bad” and “everybody has to live like this”. These people have not seen the light. They have not been exposed to the tenets of financial independence and life flexibility. Should I pity their ignorance, or envy it?
Is Ignorance Really Bliss?
I have woken up from the Matrix. Mr. Money Morpheus and his band of FIRE-advocates have unplugged me from the system and allowed me to take a step back and see the world through a different lens. I don’t want that life. I don’t want to run on the hamster wheel until my legs collapse, only to then “enjoy the fruits of my labor” at the young age of 65.
Are my complaints unwarranted? Maybe. Should I just suck it up and live like I’m “supposed to”? Maybe. Is my judgment clouded by my American-given sense of entitlement? Maybe.
Don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned before, I am incredibly grateful for the things I have, people I know, the society I grew up in, opportunities I have been granted, etc. Nonetheless, this whole financial independence thing has transformed my mindset and my outlook on the world.
Sometimes, I’m a bit jealous of those who haven’t discovered financial independence. There are also some people who have heard and just refuse to believe it. It seems that if you say “this isn’t so bad” enough, your brain actually starts to believe it.
These people, trapped in the Matrix, are at least somewhat content with their lives. They don’t mind showing up to work, mindlessly writing or punching numbers for 8 hours, and repeating this routine for 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year, and 40+ years of their life because “everybody else is doing it”.
Was I lucky to stumble into this financial independence movement, or is ignorance really bliss?
Knowledge is Power
Since discovering this financial independence movement, I feel that I now have a responsibility to society. I (and the rest of my fellow financial independence content creators) need to play the role of Neo and fight back against the system.
We need to ‘wake up’ as many people as possible and show them that a different type of life is actually possible. One that doesn’t involve sitting in a cubicle for 8+ hours per day, 50 weeks per year, and 40+ years of our lives. One that doesn’t keep us away from our passions, goals, family, friends, and relationships.
We need to illustrate that it is possible to create a life that you love. Once the light bulb in your brain flicks on and you realize the true value of money and what it can buy — at that moment — you take back control of your life.
Financial independence is truly the greatest gift of all. Share the message with your family, friends, coworkers, classmates, and anybody else who will listen.
As I conclude this post I feel that I have answered my initial question. Knowing about financial independence is a blessing. Although it may be a burdensome blessing, and ignorance surely involves less of a moral responsibility, it is a blessing nonetheless.
As long as I’m still creating content, my goal is to convert as many hamsters back to their human form as possible. There is more to life than slogging away in a cubicle, longing for each weekend, and dreading Monday mornings.
Are You With Me?
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