Floating. You, me and your little dog too. Whether you realize and accept it, we are all drifting in a slew of endless possibility. Or as I like to think, a grab bag of opportunity. Like standing in a money cage game, you can scratch and scramble for random twirling notes hoping you get lucky in life, or attack with strategy. Like eyeballing the big notes or opening your shirt parachute style and gobbling up all the bills.
This feeling of floating in the unknown is undeniably nerve wracking. Fear of choosing the path full of obstacles or walking through the slanted door has a way of hammering one more nail into your boot. A few more nails and you’ll happily take what you can get. If it means you don’t have to make another decision or possibly fail in numerous attempts to create the reality you really want, all the better. Possibility is overwhelming, the world is a bully ready to kick you when you’re down, so why give a damn? Surviving for surviving sake is the best we can do. So you take the wide, meticulously clipped path with padded bumpers already awaiting you.
With today’s economical climate it’s easy to slip into such a jaded mentality. Opting for the most secure, I’ll bet mind numbing, uninspiring gig you can quickly grab and stand on. A piece of granite you can glue your feet to. Believe me, I can relate.
After spending the last seven months traveling and working around Australia I have moved back to the states to find some granite. Scrounging for jobs I didn’t know I’d need, saving every last penny, and living out of two backpacks in Oz was enough to launch me into survival mode. While the positives of my nomad lifestyle can’t be denied, like sleeping under the outback stars and diving with Nemo on The Great Barrier Reef, I soon yearned for stability. The thought of a decent, steady paycheck and place to call home for more than a month made me drool a little.
In my gypsy situation it’s to be expected, I suppose. After months of scraping by in an attempt to see and experience as much as possible, I needed a yin to my yang. But, even as I settle and sprout some roots back in San Francisco I realize it all comes down to perspective.
To grab or not to grab. To drown in overwhelming possibility and fear or chose to see the world as endless opportunity waiting patiently with open arms. It’s an attitude change. Seeing what is really available to you versus through the blinders society has sculpted around our pretty little peepers.
As a blanketed the city with resumes upon landing, I found myself flipping between these two extremes. I was desperate for anything. Willing and able to apply and do just about anything for money. Don’t get any naughty ideas here! And sometimes you do what you need to do to get by, make rent and feed a hungry tummy. Pure survival mode. I’ve learned to take all opportunities, follow all leads, network like a champ, and basically walk through lots of doors. Try new things, stretch and test my abilities.
By doing so the world becomes your oyster. I then was able to pick and choose my path and sculpt my experience.
So I turn the tables. How do you see your world? And more importantly is that how you want to see it? What steps are you taking now to possibly shift that view?
Alex Gibbons says
Ouch! That’s harsh ‘James’! Who cares?
The piece was well intended and resonates with me as I’m about to go back to the UK after a year away. As much as I agree with the idea that we all need balance in our lives we also need testing experiences that cause us to refocus and remember our priorities.
Getting pushed to the edge of reason/sanity/desperation/whatever and knowing you can handle it is a good, good thing. It’s what you take from the experience that counts.
For me the problem with a ‘traditional’ lifestyle is not the lifestyle but the fact that people settle because they’re too scared to try something out of the ordinary or a little scary.
Thanks and keep up the good work 🙂
Alex- well said. It’s all about what you take from the experience and how you learn and evolve into the next phase of life. I couldn’t agree more about fear. People settle because they are afraid to take the leap. I like to challenge myself by throwing myself into experiences. They force you to grow. You have no choice! Thanks for your thoughts and support. Negativity sucks so thanks for backing me up.
I think people who claim experience/expertise as “bloggers” should have better grammar skills in general. I cringe when reading many of these posts and see the poor skills. Funny part is, many blogs out there are authored by journalists.
Here’s a tip for all you untemplaters – run your posts through a spelling/grammar checker before hitting the submit button.
Wow James….such negativity. I’m sorry my poor grammer gets your panties in a bunch. So I might not be perfect, but no one is. Remember that writing is my passion not my day job. As I have discovered after a lifetime of trying to be perfect…. Perfectionism will kill you slowly. As much as I strive to do my best, these are the little things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
I appreciate constructive criticism, but commenting to put someone down is a waste of energy and only spreads more negativity.
Sorry you took it as negativity or so personally. It was meant to be constructive criticism, to help you and all the untemplaters be better at what seems to be the predominant theme here – that untemplating is primarily related to blogging.
If writing is your passion, one would think that you’d want to be the best at it that you could be – whether it is your day job or not. Is that not the case?
Nice post and a good observation of what is possible for all of us. As someone who has read countless blogs about the location independent lifestyle (Tim Ferriss, Sean Ogle, Colin Wright,etc), I am fascinated about possibly living a nomadic lifestyle upon graduating college.
My only question for you is how do you plan to implement some of the positives from a nomadic lifestyle into one that is more traditional and structured?
Thanks, keep up the great work
Ryan- I was fascinated with the nomadic lifestyle as well, which is why I went ahead it did it. But I think it’s important to define your nomadic style. For example, I sold everything and swore to live and travel out of two backpacks around the globe. I knew I would figure it out as I went. What I have realized and big names like Tim Ferriss, is that you need some type of home base. If you are going to make it truly a lifestyle having a base to call home is important for your sanity. Tim Ferriss calls SF home and Chris from The Art of Non Conformity lives with his wife in Seattle when he isn’t jet setting. You figure out quickly what your limits are. Mine were drawn when I no longer knew why I was in Australia. I wasn’t following my passions and really had no direction besides seeing the world.
I live a nomad lifestyle that works for me. I will make SF a base and plan my travels in 2-4 month periods. It will probably change overtime! The point is not to define yourself too much because priorities are always shifting.
Since coming back the “nomadic” traits I have hung onto are:
– a more minimalist lifestyle- small wardrobe, little to no furniture so I can stay light and mobile
– ability to chat up anyone and meet new friends
– network like a pro
– ability to let the little stresses disappear….when i first came back i kept thinking…”most of the crap people stress about is irrelevant!” We all worry way too much over nothing!
I could go on forever about lessons learned and how i am applying them to my more structured life today. I learned that i needed a little more structure to my gypsy life. At least for a period of time 😀
I realize my thoughts weren’t super clear here, but that’s about were my head was when I wrote this! Having just landed back in the states and trying to get my thoughts wrapped around what I just went through and what I faced. Wait until the next one big guy!
I recently graduated college with a degree in engineering. I had two options:
1) I could land a job at a company like Boeing or Lockheed, receive a large salary, do one job my entire career, and be a number in the company.
2) I could land a job at a small company earning 25% less than what I could, serve in various departments, and be known on a first name basis.
I chose option 2. My friends work for large companies earning $15k-$25 more. But, they serve only one function in those companies. I have had the opportunity to be involved in several departments in the company where I can develop more skills and knowledge, resulting in more marketable skills to include on me resume.
I love the noncorporate world. Life is easier and less stressful when employee moral is higher on the priority list than profits.
Absolutely! You chose your priorities. A more well rounded career with a close knit network of people you like working with. The money will come eventually once you all create some awesome products and what not together.
Great post. It is definitely a big shift to have to rely on someone else to give you a job. It is survival, but, you’re right, it could be a great opportunity that you might not otherwise have seen. Ideally, you’d be looking for those opportunities all the time. I am trying to shift my view to that way of thinking all the time – to be open to opportunities I would have never considered two years ago. Part of that is talking to other people doing something different than what’s expected, and figuring out why it works for them. And, the other part is constantly looking for opportunities (at first this started as a “just-in-case” thing, but now, it’s simply part of my week).
Anda- haha ya I’m with you. I find myself chatting people up all the time who are in different industries. I feel like a reporter sometimes with all the questions, but it’s really interesting to see what other people do and how they run their daily lives. Especially when I am teaching, I’ll randomly find out that I’m training a top ER doc.
Great post, although I found it a bit hard to follow until the end when you wrapped it up. I like your point here that sometimes it takes something like getting into survival mode to open new doors that we otherwise would never have looked at. You never know which one of those doors will be a good fit for you. I’m at a juncture in my life now where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do. I know it involves getting out of the corporate world and creating something of my own. I’ll keep in mind that I should open as many doors as possible to explore different opportunities.
Hugh- Sorry to confuse you! I realize my writing wasn’t as clear as it could be. I am coming from a pretty unique perspective….at the time i was in pure survival mode and trying to sort it all out. Staying positive and switching my perspective to seeing the world as my oyster vs. just a rat race was my point. Thanks for your thoughts!
Carlos Velez says
great post! that’s definitely a big mind shift, seeing everything as possibility, one I am trying to make. I am trying to see opportunities to challenge myself…with blogging, with a new sales position at my job…to become a person who achieves success.
I liked your thought about walking through lots of doors, and getting to pick and choose your path.
any of those doors feeling like they are on the right path yet? good luck!
I think my right path will ultimately land me in San Francisco or there abouts. My wife and I were there this summer and it was right for us….and I keep meeting or reding bloggers from SF.
Yes yes Carlos! I am happily teaching a ton and feel like I can finally chill at least a little. I have managed to line up work with four different pilates studios and have loads of clients lining up. I love teaching and performed last weekend in five shows with a dance company. I am back doing what i love and couldn’t be happier. A far cry from last month!
Yes SF is the place to be for us techie blogger types. The opportunity here is endless! The main reason I came back of course :D.
Carlos Velez says
Congrats! looking for jobs can be a big draining suck. that’s awesome that you were able to line up what you love doing! I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Have a chowderbowl at the wharf, or a sangria at Cha Cha Cha’s for me…I miss it so.
Mike Key - Entrepreneurial Ninja says
I’m confused. Because it sounds like you’re saying we should be in survival mode at all times. But the one thing I strive for is not to be in survival mode. To me it seems like everyone is just trying to survive. Just trying to make it through one more day, just barely making it. I don’t want to survive or just scrap by. I want to live and have abundance. And I choose to see my life as abundant with endless possibilities.
I can see that too, but perhaps as she brings it back together in the last paragraph she’s hinting toward getting into survival mode so you can regain perspective on life. Gain a rush of experience that allows you to see those endless possibilities for your taking instead of for your stressing. I picked up on a line I think was glazed over. “I realize it all comes down to perspective.”
Sometimes perspective is all it takes to go from survival mode to thriving mode. How we see what’s around us is a powerful thing. Ask Henry David Thoreau.
Mike Key - Entrepreneurial Ninja says
Ok I think I get it a little more.
Most definitely Mike. I completely agree. I am just describing the importance of changing your outlook and attitude. I was coming from a place of pure survival…hating every minute of it…I am diligently trying to describe here how I learned to switch my perspective so I could see the world as my oyster and not such a rat race. It’s all about perspective.
Great post Amber. I think it is all about attitude – either coming from a place of scarcity or abundance. I flip between the two, but am trying to learn to trust and know things will work out (not always easy) whilst taking massive action like you talked about.
So true Jen. Staying positive and still trying to grab at opportunities that really let your soul sing are not easy when you’ve been in survival mode. I am gladly adjusting finally since being back state side.
Cody McKibben says
Wow, really incredible post Amber! I can empathize with a lot of these feelings… great job capturing them, and reminding everyone of the possibility life holds even when everything looks bleak.
thanks for the support Cody :D. I figured you of all people could most definitely relate. Survival mode isn’t fun, but it forces you to deal with your attitude and stay positive. I’m happily working a ton now and have stable money flowing in!