In my twenties, I was all about experiences and hanging out with friends. I spent most of my time traveling everywhere and eating out with the people I know. I tried to be fashionable and bought brand-name goods that I really have no business buying. I did what I thought I was supposed to do. In general, though, most of the personality tests I’ve taken have shown that I am a rule-follower, so I tend to do what I’m expected to do.
Now that I’m older, I am all about staying home and relaxing on my favorite armchair. All I need is a comfy couch and a book. It doesn’t even have to be a very good book, it just has to be interesting. Usually, though, after work, I decline invitations to go out and just head home so I can de-compress from teaching.
My husband and I were watching a program the other day. It was about young school-age children in Japan who quit school for various reasons. Mostly, it was about these students who don’t want to go to school and just chose to opt out of that part of society. To make that choice at such a young age takes a lot courage, especially in Japan where a lot of expectations are placed on children to follow the social norms. The main character interviewed several adults who didn’t follow the normal route but persevered and created success on their own terms.
There are a lot of surprisingly successful people who went the non-conformist route–which is very rare here in Japan. Every where you go, most people emphasize that the group or the overall society as a whole has precedence over the individual.
And yet the times are changing. You see a lot of people–not as many as those in the US–who are choosing a lifestyle not bound by duty to work, school, family, and society. I really like that things are changing and most people are starting to accept that not everyone has to be the same. Acceptance for the outlier seems to be growing.
The journey to financial independence is a little bit lonely. You have to be willing to say no to a lot of things if you’re trying to save money. You also have to tramp down your ego by not always having the latest and the greatest. It’s about not keeping up with the Joneses even though everyone around you looks like the Joneses. You have to not follow what is trendy and not buy what the latest consumer craze is.
You have to be non-conformist.
You have to do what a lot of people just aren’t doing because it’s hard. It’s a lot easier to be mindless than mindful with your money.
You have to follow your own path–which makes a lot of sense because the path that you choose most likely affects just you and your immediate family. What others do and think of you really should have no effect in the way you live your life.