At a large-ish gathering this weekend, I came to the realization that much of our society has been brainwashed into believing certain things about life that simply aren’t true.
I’m still in shock over the lack of education in many of these areas.
I know I don’t often write snarky posts, but for the last two days I’ve been feeling an urgency on my heart to speak to those who are still stuck in the world of the status quo, and you may see a little “snark” along the way. .
But, it’s “Normal”!
We lived the life of “normal” for a long time. Not completely normal, as we started homeschooling our kids from the get go. This decision brought a bit of kindly worded pushback from some of our family members.
Their concern was loving and justified, and it allowed us to explain our reasoning for bucking the norm.
I remember as I worried and fretted back then (circa 2003) about upsetting our loved ones that a homeschooling friend said to me, “Don’t worry. As the kids grow your loved ones will start to see the good fruit that came from your decision.”
And it’s been true. People often comment on how kind, mature and intelligent our kids are. They are amazed that they can easily hold mature and in-depth conversations with adults and children alike on a variety of subjects.
I credit homeschooling for this because it’s allowed us to have them interact on a regular basis with people of all ages instead of confining them to their age group alone, which is what the public education system does.
“Normal” in today’s world isn’t always a bad thing, but there are some instances of normal that are literally destroying a large sector of people.
The insistence that ALL students go to college and get a degree has become “normal”.
The problem with that mindset is that our country is now dealing with a serious shortage of workers in fields such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, auto mechanics and other tech school specialties.
It doesn’t take much thought or imagination to realize that a life where kids are discouraged from pursuing these types of jobs – even if it’s what they truly want to do – will eventually come back to bite us in the rear as prices for construction and other similar services will skyrocket more than they already are.
People are also expected to be “normal” in that they work a 9-to-5 job every day for forty years, that they retire no earlier than the standard age of 65, and that they live a life of debt and coordinating monthly payments.
How I Discovered the World of Abnormal
Despite our “freak” breakout from the normal world of schooling, we were immersed in other parts of “normal” for many years. We practiced keeping up with the Joneses regularly by choosing the cars we drove and the places we lived largely based on appearance sake.
We were fine with carrying car payments, credit card payments and a large mortgage because it was “what everyone does”.
We went out to eat regularly, enrolled our kids in the required extracurricular activities, dressed them adorably and lived a seemingly prosperous life in a popular affluent suburb in our state.
Then we had a moment of clarity and bucked our life in the suburbs for a quiet hobby farm about 45 minutes out of town. Being alone with our debt and not having anyone nearby to impress, we came to the realization that we didn’t like being normal.
Car payments and credit card payments suck. Mortgage payments suck. Living to impress others sucks. At least, it did for us. On a desperate whim to stop being a slave to lenders, I googled “how to get out of debt” one winter day near the end of 2012.
I found a few of the normal, non-compelling online magazine articles that were probably written by clueless finance “professionals” that didn’t have a clue about what it was like to struggle for money.
THIS is what I’ve been searching for, I thought. Real live people who were deep in debt and struggling for money who found a way to buck normal and get out of the rat race.
I was thrilled – and shocked – to learn that not everyone lives a “normal” life. And lucky for us, they were sharing their secrets for bucking “normal” through their blogs.
I’ve spent the last nearly five years learning, learning, learning more than I ever would have in college about how to live a good life on our own terms. I’ve learned things like:
- How to find out what I truly want out of life
- How to create a life of financial freedom and independence
- How to create a work environment that is not only satisfying but totally in my control
- How to define, set and achieve all sorts of goals from small to large
“Normal” Lives Are Still Very Prevalent, and They’re Ruining People
My new normal life where I do things for me and our family instead of for the purpose of following the crowd has become normal to me now. Hearing stories about bucking the system from real people like the Groovies and the Fritzes are a regular part of my life.
But it wasn’t until this weekend’s gathering that I was steered back into the reality of a sad normal for so many people. As I conversed with others during the gathering, I routinely heard statements such as:
“It doesn’t matter if you use your college degree as long as you have that piece of paper in your hand that says ‘I graduated'” (yeah, and an average of $37k in student loan debt to go with it. Let’s not forget that part.).
“Yeah, just working every day and trying to pay the bills as usual.”
“I don’t like my job, but it pays the bills.”
“I have diabetes/heart disease, etc.”
When I’d bring up stats such as the fact that 72% of college graduates don’t even work in their field of degree, I’d get this look like “What does that have to do with anything in life?”
When I’d talk about my work as a self-employed freelance writer that makes four times more than I would working a “regular” job people would stare at me as if I’d made up the idea in order to make it appear as though I’m contributing to society when I’m really sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching soap operas.
When I’d bring up our plans for debt freedom and financial independence so that we could spend more time doing what we love, I’d get the deer-in-the-headlights look, as if they were certain I was spending too much time watching late-night informercials.
I remember being a very young age when I started wondering why things happen the way they do, and how I could prevent the “normal” troubles that plague so many people. I didn’t know much, but I did want to know “why”.
What I learned after decades of self-driven research is that many of today’s problems – not all, but many – develop from a simple lack of education and discipline.
Mr Groovy sums it up well in this recent post where he talks about those who make it big and why – and why it took him longer than some to find his groove and to start living life with his wife on their terms.
“When I was a young man, I swallowed the consumerist Kool-Aid and bought all the stuff my meager salary and credit limit would allow. So let’s not kid ourselves. When I was 30 years old, I was picking up roadkill and living paycheck to paycheck because I deserved it.” -Mr. Groovy
Bucking normal IS a possibility, but only if you are willing to own up to where you’re at now and then choose to do something different.
Recommended Reading: Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age, It’s a Financial Number
Successful people aren’t successful because they were “lucky”, but because they took the time to figure out what it was that they really wanted out of life, and then made a habit of making small steps toward their goals for many years.
Successful people are successful because they’ve decided to stop being normal.
Like our oldest is successful at art because she works her a** off for several hours a day watching tutorials and perfecting her art, and has done so since the tender age of 3.
Bucking the system isn’t easy. We’ve gotten lots of pushback – and still do – about our decisions to do things differently. But you know what? We are happier now than we’ve ever been. We are working toward goals that we truly care about.
We are often spending our time how we want to spend it and are working on being able to do that on a greater level as we get closer to our goal of financial freedom.
And we are teaching our kids to choose their careers based on their passion and not based on a paycheck or status. Our oldest will pursue a non-college-degreed life as an artist and animator.
She’s already making money through various side hustles using her art skills, and she’s only 17.
Our second oldest is entering high school in the fall and is set on a career as an Elementary Education major. Her passion is to teach 2nd graders.
The other two kids aren’t quite set on what they want to do, but they have a good idea of the general direction they want to go, and it’s because we have been teaching them to follow their passion as they learn the basics in school that will prepare them to enter college IF they decide that’s the right move for them.
Yeah, a lot of people think we are nuts.
I like to call it “happy”. I know that’s an inconceivable concept to many people, but we like it here.
It’s time to start asking yourself the hard questions. It’s time to start asking yourself why you are settling for a job you hate, a money situation you hate or a body condition (i.e. your health) that you aren’t happy with.
It’s time to figure out what you really want out of life before you go off the deep end like someone I know who spent too many years living “normal” until it drove him to have the typical midlife crisis and lose everything he loved for the sake of cheap and short-term thrills.
Just so you know, bucking normal will likely not be easy. You’ll get pushback and potentially ridicule from your loved ones as you change your habits in order to make them align with your goals.
You’ll get pushback from your own psyche. Breaking old habits and forming new, better habits is tough work, but it’s worth it as long as you are forming habits that will help you get to where you truly want to be in life.
To buck normal you need to re-learn a different way of life.
Our Build Wealth category and our Get Out of Debt category both have articles that can help you with that, even if money isn’t a primary concern. There’s lots of motivational stuff there that will inspire you to reach for more in life.
It’s time to buck up and dream, people. You deserve better than “normal”.