Chasing the American dream has got me jaded
I live in the US.
I used to play music every day. I used to skate almost every day. I used to surf TWO times a day. I used to write songs and poetry. I used to contemplate the cosmos and reality and come up with fun projects with friends. I used to garden. I used to spend more time with my pets.
Now I work.
I work and stress so hard that I wear myself out, drink too much to "help me sleep", still stay up stressing about my job - how I can improve my standing, and stress about needing to do side projects to supplement my income AND stress that I don't do any of the fun things I used to do.
This is all to be able to afford a living space and ensure that if a disaster (personal or natural) happens I won't be completely screwed.
Any friends that did have loans are still paying them off. I have been fortunate enough (and diligent enough) to pay off all my loans, but I had to ditch my hopes and dreams.
Will I ever be able to afford a decent house in a metropolitan area? No. Will I ever do the things that used to make be happy? I don't see how. Will I ever be truly happy? I have no idea.
Is anyone else in this situation? What are you doing to mitigate? Moving to a more affordable area (leaving friends and family)? Are you learning a new trade to up your financial standing? Are you as bummed out as I am that we have to work so hard just for a mediocre standard of living?
Follow your instincts. What you've been sold can become metaphorical slavery if you're not careful.
This should give you some strength: http://www.gabrielhummel.com/2009/09/05/the-story-of-the-mexican-fisherman/
The Mexican Fisherman
The American investment banker was at the pier of a
small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with
just one fisherman docked.
Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna.
The American complimented the Mexican on the quality
of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”
The American then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer
and catch more fish?”
The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”
The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the
processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 to 20 years.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
As much as I love the sentiment of this message, it doesn’t really address what I believe OP is saying. Right now OP is the fisherman and he’s living in a part of Mexico that is over saturated by fisherman. He has to get up early in the hopes of beating the other fisherman and stays long after many have gone home because he’s trying to catch enough to feed his family. Most days he doesn’t catch enough. He’s stressed out. His wife is stressed out. The kids aren’t as happy because they’re hungry and mom and dad fight all the time. He can’t affird to move his family to another village so he feels helpless and stuck.
This is great. Granted the fisherman would probably have a nicer living situation and money for healthcare etc after the businessman's route, but it's still a great little story for framing hustle vs happiness.
Never be a slave to money.
If it's getting stressful enough to where you're no longer enjoying your life; save up for a bit, pack a bag and fly to another - cheaper - country. I personally recommend Taiwan.
Work remotely (RemoteOK has a tonne of jobs, and is a great resource), and you'll be able to live incredibly well (like a king/queen/other being with high standard of living); along with having one of the nicest healthcare systems in the world (if in Taiwan).
How well can you get by as someone who only knows English? (At least at first)
My largest hangup is isolating myself linguistically and becoming some sort of permatourist.
Most people in Taiwan have at least semi-proficient English, actually! You'd be safe, especially if you stayed in the cities. Almost every university teaches Chinese there, too, so you can learn their language if you want!
Have you ever felt proud of America when people left their country to come here for better opportunities? Aren't we a nation of immigrants? Why does that only work one way? If someone can have a better life in a different country they should move.
It costs, effectively, $800 to move to an urban Taiwanese city if you take into account flight (generally ~$500, can get higher prices, can get lower), first month's rent ($200 in the middle of a decently expensive city like Kaohsiung), and misc. expenses, like NHI ($30) and food (depends on your diet).
On average, homeless people would be vastly better off moving to Taiwan and working remotely than staying here. It takes less than 4 weeks - taxes included - of working a minimum wage job to be able to afford it. Yes, there are homeless people who can't work for whatever reason (I've known some of them); it's difficult for them, but still possible with things like Mechanical Turk and volunteering for clinical trials, generally.
Tell me, how are you fighting? I assume you pay taxes, vote and are overall a model citizen, of course; but your argument sounds like you're attempting to propose that someone else should do what you aren't doing at the moment.
There are plenty of people "fighting" in the US, generally with much better strategies than a large horde of people.
For example, look up The Great Slate. You can still donate to it while in a foreign country, and with the extra amount you'd be able to donate you'd be doing far more than your country than you ever could otherwise.
Giving support from a distance - and a better state of mental health - will overall do infinitely more for your country than going and doing protest after protest that will never be listened to. The spirit - and effectiveness - of that died with Swartz, I'd say.
It would be helpful if you included which city you’re leaving from in order to find $500 tickets to Taiwan. Those don’t exist from Los Angeles for round trip tickets. Sure you can try and buy a one way ticket and skirt a bunch of visa rules. But if you change your mind and Taiwan isn’t working out, how are you going to get back into the US without getting detained?
If you're moving, you don't need round trip tickets—also, you can stay in Taiwan without a visa for 90 days at a time assuming you're a US citizen, with no limit on how many times you can repeat the process in a year.
Flights in Taiwan itself are fairly inexpensive, so you can just fly to Hong Kong every three months before making a return flight the next morning for almost nothing, really.
On top of all of that—it's drastically easier to save up for a return flight when all you have are Taiwanese expenses. It'd take a month if you changed your mind.
But you’re still required to show you have a flight leaving Taiwan or they won’t let you into the country so it’s the ticket to Taiwan + the cost of the flight to the next country. You also have to buy a $160 resident visa each time you renter. So round trip to Hong Kong $190 (if there are cheaper ones let me know) + $160 resident visa = $116 per month. I have no idea budget wise whether that’s good or bad. Obviously for some that’s a steal. Would that present too high of a percentage of a monthly budget if you’re moving abroad to save money?
You don't need a resident visa in either country—HK allows you to stay for max 180 days at a time without a visa if you're a US citizen, and Taiwan 90. (The process is repeatable as many times as you like, as neither country has a limit on entry times a year.)
While you can apply for a resident visa, which does cost $160—it's not required if you fly to HK and back every three months. A resident visa allows six month stays, if I remember correctly.
I did look up staying in Taiwan without the resident visa when I was looking at options for staying there long term. Mostly because I had a friend do that when he moved to Costa Rica so I know it’s not unusual for some countries. I found a blog (I can provide the link but I assume you probably won’t need it) of someone who did a bunch of research of his own and the answers ran the gamut from “don’t need one” to “very difficult to get away with it.” He took the plunge and he’s been getting by just fine. He posted some tips on things you can do to fly under the radar. They’re very lax but obviously the law has been used against residents who do certain things. One thing he mentioned gave me pause. It was said with a bit of a wink so I don’t know if he was just cracking an off color joke or if it’s something somebody like me would need to be concerned about. He said it also helps if you’re white (muh privilege). Is that something Taiwan is known for with immigration issues? Certain racial groups will get more of a pass than others? I figured googling “is Taiwan racist” wasn’t really going to answer this question and you seem knowledgeable enough that you might know what the general consensus is.
I wouldn't say racist, no. It's moreover that—for whatever reason—Taiwan and a lot of other places in Asia have a bit of a reverse-Weeabooism. Not intensely, mind, but it's certainly common. Generally helps white people, but doesn't really harm anyone else.
Now, some of the American embassies there? Maybe a little.
Ahhh actually that makes a lot of sense. I really thought your first comment was too good to be true. And honestly, not having enough information lead me to be more conservative with some of the risks I was reading about. While I’m not saying I’m running off to south east Asia tomorrow with the hopes of discovering inner peace, there are a lot of options that are more affordable now than I previously thought they were.
I really recommend you try it at some point! It's a good experience to have!
I’m definitely onboard with the idea. I appreciate you giving me another little push in that direction. Knowing that I’m not gonna have beef with immigration authorities while saving a chunk of money is pretty fucking sweet.
Why is it my responsibility to make your life better?
Can I ask if you're genuinely looking for an answer to this? I usually feel like these questions are asked from a similarly jaded world view, as if the concept of community isn't lost, but scoffed at. Even if you built your own home, grew your own food, and lived in solitude with a self - sustaining network - you didn't make every nail, mine for every resource, and create all of those products yourself.
I genuinely feel we owe it to our entire world to fight for the betterment of everyone's lives. If you genuinely are asking in good faith, then I'll be happy to search for some resources for you to read up on that can better provide an answer. After all, you've made it someone's responsibility by asking, and it's within our nature to provide.
Yes, I'm genuinely looking for an answer. The idea that we should avoid improving our own lives for the sake of solidarity (and, in this example, literally nothing else,) seems very silly to me. What good would it do anyone if OP remained where he is? He's not, we can assume, going to be a politician with the power to change anything. He's not going to become wealthy enough to lobby for change, especially since his finances are the entire reason the move was suggested. In America, we can safely assume his single vote on election day is essentially worthless. Your idea of staying put to fight the Man is quaint, but it lacks the sort of practical specificity that OP needs.
From what I can tell, you seem to be dangerously close to suggesting that you, and society as a whole, are entitled to my labor and efforts to make things better. I'm all for gathering to change a problem, but never will you see me demanding that others suffer in order to relieve my own.
I think there's a difference between "you, and society as a whole, are entitled to my labor" and "Do we truly have no social responsibility to our peers?"
To answer your other question:
I think it's everyone's responsibility to make as many lives better as they reasonably can. I think that's kind of antithetical to "the american way" though.
While I agree with most of your conclusions, I think it's a bad-faith move in a discussion to use the rhetorical devices you have here to set up really only one possible reading of the motivations of the advice to which you're responding. Perhaps that's not your intent, but it strongly comes off that way to me.
Maybe for this user, no, it's really not a big "Fuck you" to the folks who can't escape the evils of American (or any) society. Maybe it's really just an earnest effort to help individuals identify and pursue solutions that will vastly improve their mental health and overall quality of life.
My leanings are not dyed-in-the-wool socialist, though I do identify with socialist principles, and I think that what may on the surface appear better for the society is certainly not always healthiest for the individual, and I do believe that optimally healthy individuals are a the optimal starting point for social improvement.
I feel this, and I have problems with @Eva's suggestion for other reasons, but I have a hard time blaming someone who is poor and just wants a way out. As another socialist, the ultimate answer is to organize and change things, yes, but on an individual level I can't blame a broken person for being like "fuuuck, what can I do to make this end?" and seeing one way out.
I still sympathize with what you're saying though. On a broader level, it isn't very useful for everyone to individually find small ways out, and it doesn't help anyone else. But I personally can't judge anyone too harshly for that, just like I can't shun a musician who "sells out" to make a better lives for themselves. It's rough, because they're only acting as they are systematically encouraged to, and that system is the problem...but of course, we have to oppose that in order to change it.
Have you checked out Mr. Money Mustache or other financial independence blogs? It's hard to know what advice would be right for you without knowing how much you are already managing your personal finances well. Do you have a monthly budget? What % of your income do you spend on rent? Do you have credit card debt?
In general, I agree with you that the rat race is tough, and I definitely believe it is tougher for us millenials than it was for previous generations. At the same time, if you are lucky enough to graduate college with no debt (same for me), and if your income is at or above the median for your area, then you should be able to manage your finances to start saving a lot more money - and this makes a huge difference psychologically.
People talk about "fuck you" money, and it matters a lot. I'm pretty driven and ambitious in my career, but the fact that I can walk away anytime and not give a shit about the money (thanks to my savings) makes it much easier to feel like I have the upper hand when work sucks, and much easier to compartmentalize and live my life.
I'm happy to continue the discussion, and I think I could offer some advice. Can you share a bit more about your current money management? Percent breakdown of budget? Familiarity with personal finance practices? Obviously don't share anything personal or sensitive.
One tip to get you started - kill your phone bill. I pay only $15/mo with 2GB of data and unlimited talk and text on MintSIM (they are a little flaky, and based on friends' recs I'd suggest Project Fi instead). Check out this guide to alternative phone services here: http://www.androidguys.com/buyers-guide-mvnos/
I work a standard 40hr/wk job and I don't get it, I feel like I have no free time. I have the weekend but it's like a day and a half at most. I don't know how people would have a life outside of work ever. Get home at 530 and if I sneeze facing the wrong way, I look back at the clock and its already 9, sleep time. Fuck that man.
Unrelated to the main topic but related to something you said, drinking to help sleep is not helping your sleep. It may help you go to sleep but the quality of sleep you get is worse. Same with weed.
Exactly. 40hrs/week (or really more like 60 in my work) plus a couple hours of commute a day... there's no time for life. I don't understand why 5 days of slaving away for 2 days of rest / self-improvement is tolerated in modern day society. I get why it's shoved down our throats (rich want to get richer), but I'm getting real sick of it.
You pretty much described my life, along with most of my friends. The hustle is never-ending, the pay is crap, I count myself lucky when I can afford groceries (let alone any kind of perks). I'm finally starting to get in a position where I can see some sort of possibility for a comfortable life though. It'll still require years more of hustling though, and I'm already to the point that I can feel the physical fatigue getting the better of me. I doubt I'll be able to live in the city where I've always lived, but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find some land reasonably close so I'll be able to visit the folks I care about. Once I have the land, I could do a lot of different things. But lately I've been eyeing those nifty yurt kits. I could chill with one of those for a while.
This! Land/housing is the real noose in the slavery that is most modern jobs. Once you own your own land and have some sort of shelter, you need peanuts to live on and can own your own life.
Try reading Mortgage Free by Rob Roy as a starting point.
This is exactly how I've felt for the last couple of years. It's been really hard to keep going when you know there won't be any moment to just live life. What @Eva said looks like something good to do, but then you leave all your friends and family behind which I find is also a hard step to take. I've tried switching jobs but after 3-6 months the struggles return and the same feeling of not being satisfied take over. It's hard to keep doing it but I've left the thought that it will be better someday. I don't know anymore either, maybe the system just beat me..
Long story short: Follow your dreams but be flexible.
Here's a good experience: join with a mission team from a church or other non-profit, and go on a week-long mission trip to Mexico. Other places may be just as good. Here, it's close to us. Go and help and visit with people who compared to you have nothing. Notice their attitude and lifestyle. And their attitude. You just might benefit from it.
If not that, then certainly move somewhere where the cost of living isn't so high. Good luck!
What changed in your life from when you were spending so much time enjoying it, to now when you have to spend most of your time working?