I’m struggling to fit in. I’ve always struggled, when I think about it. I’m not designed for society’s little box.
One of the main things I wrestle with is the idea that I should get a good job, buy a house and give all my earnings for the rest of time to the bank to pay off said house before finding a bigger house and ever expanding my piles of “stuff” so that I need an even bigger house because bricks and mortar are where the money’s at for my non-existent (will never exist) children to inherit.
Working 9-5 (what a way to make a living)
Firstly, I don’t want a good job. What on earth is a good job? According to my father it’s well paid, has good career prospects, makes use of my many and varied talents, and keeps me in the miserable seventh circle of hell where creativity crawls away to rot. I’ve just left a “good job” because, although they wanted me to “bring my whole self to work” they didn’t really mean it. I don’t need no ladder to climb because I don’t have any ambition to be at the top of someone else’s idea of what amazing looks like. I’m on a career path of love, according to my wonderfully wise and supportive neighbour; I’d rather change the world with poetry than have so-called prestige. I’m destined to be a starving artist, mostly because society doesn’t like “artists” or give them the opportunity to express themselves fully. My partner is a huge proponent of the Universal Basic Income and perhaps we’d all be happier if we didn’t have to slot ourselves in to roles that aren’t exactly shaped like we are. I’m shaping my own role right now. I’m relying on myself and my skills and hoping people will give me enough money to eat and pay rent. That and my partner? That’s all I really need.
Money money money (must be funny…)
So, secondly, why money? I’m incredibly adept at spending money because I’ve been confined in a consumerist, capitalist system that requires me to spend because it’s “good for the economy”. Oh dear. All my life I’ve been subjected to advertising, subliminal or overt, that tells me: I need this, I need that, life will be better with this, life will be easier with that, look like this, look like them, fit in, gosh darn it, fit in! So I’ve spent my money. A little here, a little there, a LOT over there (it was just so tempting!) and then I’m living paycheck to paycheck like pretty much everyone else who hasn’t sold their soul does. I have a little bit saved for a rainy day but not enough to stop my father from worrying. I haven’t planned for my pension years because, well, honestly? I don’t think I can. Mostly I hope that either the world ends before I’m 65 or UBI becomes a reality before I reach that golden age; I won’t have to concern myself with being poverty-stricken and dying in my freezing cold, substandard rental accommodation.
I’m rather enjoying working out a realistic budget and connecting with others to do skills swapping. The barter system is alive and well in and beyond the creative world. Wellington timebank is working on amazing things. What did we all do before money? We shared our talents and helped each other out. Bring on UBI and skills sharing and desiring less.
Our house (in the middle of the street)
Thirdly, I don’t want to own my own house, at least, not in the traditional sense of house. When my grandfather willed me a large sum of money with the express desire that I not “piss it up a wall”, dear reader, that is exactly what I did. I travelled. I lived. I experienced life in all its fullness (told you I was good at spending). I couldn’t have done that if I’d invested in the solidity of four walls and a roof and been tied to a life of luxurious security and have those all important “assets”, been future-proofed. I wouldn’t be in New Zealand or in Wellington, officially the best city in the world, if I’d done as he demanded. I definitely wouldn’t have met the love of my life and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be as happy as I am right now. No, the traditional route is not for me. Or my partner, as it turns out.
Our current obsession: Tiny Homes. We want to downsize to the max! We’ve both got a lot of “stuff”; superfluous stuff, if you will. We don’t need much more than somewhere to live and each other. But there are problems with tiny homes. Problems like: where on earth are we going to put it? Land is at such a premium and sections in Wellington are few and far between; affordable sections even fewer and farther. Plus, tiny homes aren’t considered to be real houses and therefore aren’t legally dwellings and there are so so many issues that we have to think about before we get anywhere near owning one and having land to put one on that we’re considering buying an apartment in town as a stepping stone and and and… Ridiculous! Hoops, unnecessary hoops, because tiny homes won’t make developers any money (and we’re back to “why money?” and UBI and the current neoliberalist society that means that’s all people dare to care about).
What we’d really really love to do is live in a community of tiny houses, sharing all the things that can be shared, living more off the land (I’ve always wanted chickens), living more like our ancestors. We don’t want to disappear into the forest and be without wifi (there are trappings of which we’re still rather fond) but we do want to be as “off grid” as possible while still managing to contribute to wider society in a meaningful way. As much as I hate the societal status quo, I’m still a part of it; and, to change things, you have to be involved with them.
Neoliberalism won’t disappear in an instant but, if enough people stand together, we might find a different way. I don’t know what that “different way” looks like beyond my fluffy clouds and rainbows idealism of “I’m going to fit in somewhere somehow, dammit” but I know it’s out there.