In this journey to me over the last few years, as I’ve come to understand who I am and the way life works, I place more and more value on autonomy. Having broken free of the economic chains that once necessitated a career in the corporate world, there are still so many lessons to be learned.
As my friend and I caught up on life’s events, my heart sank as I heard the words “Maybe I should just take the job and be grateful, how many other people out there are going to jobs every day that they don’t like and they do it to feed their families?” It was a rhetorical question.
When I listen to people I try and let the words wash over. I have an internal tuner that is trying to get a fix on where there are and I always hope that I can find the right words to inspire them in some way. My friend had been sharing a story of a job interview her agency had sent her to. She’d known right from the start it wasn’t the right fit.
Wrong fit is too subtle, though there was nothing wrong with the job itself, for the right person it would be great. For my friend, however, this would have been an unequivocal slow road to death. Not a physical death, but a smothering of the soul certainly. Yet, there was money to consider.
We are so enslaved to money, a concept of our own making, in so many ways.
Just in the last few weeks, my partner and I had been looking at restructuring our finances and had applied to our bank for a new home loan. Bearing in mind my partner is in the first year of a new business, the bank were cautious about lending and offered a deal which depended on reducing our other lines of credit.
On the face of it, that makes sense, yet it didn’t feel right, I felt constrained. As I pondered this, I came to realise the issue is about autonomy, my autonomy. The lines of credit the bank was interested in constraining are both mine; hard earned lines of credit.
When I was growing up, it was to the tune of “never a borrower or lender be”, yet once I’d experienced the benefits of ‘buy now pay later’ on low (or no) interest credit I decided credit was a good thing when leveraged the right way.
I’ve never been one to save a lot just for a rainy day, nor have I ever built up lots of debt at high rates of interest or defaulted on a payment. But credit has always given me flexibility and security, and that gave me autonomy.
When I moved to New Zealand in my mid-thirties, I had to start over rebuilding my credit lines, the ones I’d had in the UK were of little use in this foreign land. Having rebuilt, the credit has allowed us to juggle our finances these last few years while I stepped out of the corporate world and my partner made the move to self employment.
It’s a delicate balance; I don’t want to go overboard on security based on ‘someday’. I know I’ll always be taken care of, that being based on confidence in myself and trust that life works out rather than a reliance on anyone in particular. But I also know things don’t necessarily line up instantly, so having some tangible security is a good thing.
So I decided to walk away from the deal the bank were offering and explained why via an email. Then I went for a walk on the beach and felt elated, lighter, with an absolute knowing that I’d done the right thing. “No doubt” I thought, “I’ll second guess myself later, but I’ll remember this moment and I’ll know it was the right thing to do.”
To my utter surprise, the next day the bank came back and offered the deal, allowing me to keep my lines of credit. It was like I’d hit a rock, decided to go around it, and then it just yielded. I wondered at the many times in the past where my self-righteous indignation would have kept me wrangling with the rock to no avail.
Which is exactly what I was imagining as my friend was relaying the story of the conversations about this job mismatch with her agency, and the angst she was feeling; she was well and truly tussling with the rock in front of her.
As I wondered what to say, I realised just how much our fears about money keep us enslaved.
Yet autonomy is also deep rooted. At our heart we know our value, we are freedom seekers and don’t like being beholden or reliant on others. We get conditioned into cultures and societies that make us fearful and dependent, everything from the adverts on television to many common mythologies of childhood perpetuate that fear.
My friend did not need answers, she’s smart, she just needed to hear what she was actually saying to herself. Purged of our stories, we hugged farewell, and I hoped my amazingly talented friend was done tussling with this particular rock. “If not today, someday soon” I thought.
The next day she shared that she’d resigned from that agency, through which she has experienced so much dishonor and disappointment, this particular job just being the latest in a long line. I am delighted she’s chosen her autonomy and I can’t wait to see just what life yields to her in response.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that people just up and quit their jobs, but each and every day we make a myriad of choices, choices that can keep you imprisoned in fear, or choices that can take you closer to the freedom you feel within.
Autonomy is not achieved in one fell swoop, it starts with a decision to be more conscious about the choices you are making. Are they made from fear? How real is that fear? Is fears about ‘someday’? Suppose you made a different choice? One that made you feel empowered rather than enslaved.
Take small steps towards your autonomy, and over time you will build confidence in your own ability to take charge of your life. Money is a commodity, it flows to and fro, its value based on confidence – and if you can have confidence in your own value, in time you will look back and wonder at why you ever let anything other than your best life unfold.
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