I feel this calm before the storm. The calm winds that signal that your existential crisis sitting on the cusp of the next wave- a strong cup brewed just for you. This past month has been an experiment in not finding myself in the things that I do — finding myself freely moving and living through each day, free from the constraints of capitalism, unbound by the pressures to fill my time doing ‘meaningful’ things. Meaningful things to me were things that made me money, or things that took the aforementioned money away from me. There was no inbetween.
America places a very strong emphasis on your being as it relates to your productivity. The question what do you do? Is one of the first two questions thrown into a conversation between people getting acquainted with one another; the first being what is your name?.
This mindset that doing is being starts at college, and it was where I got my introduction into the productivity trap. In college I had committed to my extremely rigorous nursing program, being a Resident Assistant to about a 100 residents living with me daily, starting my first business, campus involvement,making time to juggle modelling in addition to a social life. To say the least, I spread myself thin. Balancing each block placed on my head like a carnival act; as if saying each day “Look! I am balancing and I am not crashing”.
This college mindset carried on through to post graduate life, so when I finally found time to take a complete hiatus from work I didn’t know how to navigate my self image. It almost felt as if my existence became a deficit because I wasn’t a productive member of society when it came to capital and wealth generation.
Money drives the wheels. Waking up to a beautiful apartment with stunning dark wood floors I’ve always dreamed of and marble countertops didn’t come about simply because I wanted them- in essence, money lines the pathway to making these decisions, owning things and taking up certain spaces. Now more than ever before, the constant display of wealth and materialism on platforms that we have access to reinforce the one key concept — MAKE MORE MONEY H*E, ACQUIRE MORE. Meaning that at a very subconscious level, an existence in which you are not driving towards acquiring wealth through further education or an actual job seems pointless.
So take away the money metric. The scale used to evaluate one’s self has now disappeared and for a brief dizzying moment everything is uncertain. Even in this uncertainty we revert to the core. At the very core, character remains the same but behavior changes. At my core, I am a girl who loves to spend on luxury experiences- haphazardly most times because the money lost is recovered in a fraction of the time spent at work. But with new found self awareness, my behaviors emanate risk aversion. Careful budgeting and planning ahead of time for luxury spending and experiences.
I write all this to say, discovering yourself takes the peeling back of many layers. When you peel back the layer of yourself that feels a responsibility to be a wealth generating member of society, how do you feel? How do you feel about yourself when you are not actively making money? Actively defined by your job role because you have chosen or been forced to take a hiatus?