Our cages are really just our choices

In that month something might turn up. If it didn’t and they had to get out, well, they’d have to make the best of it. The pretty heroine would have to get on piece work in a factory; her sensitive brother would have to go out peddling papers. The mother would have to do cleaning by the day. But they’d live. You betcha they’d live, thought Francie grimly. It takes a lot of doing to die.
~”A Tree Grows In Brooklyn”

Too often I hear people insinuate that they don’t have a choice. That they’re stuck where they’re at. They can’t leave their job, they can’t do what they want. “You’re so lucky that you get to go to Japan! That’s so cool! I wish I could!”

The only luck involved is the fact that I have a friend who basically acts as my personal tour guide for Japan. Otherwise I’d be too damn scared to go. Luck has little to do with it.

What has everything to do with it is that I’m choosing to go. I chose to go to Japan instead of paying off my car note (the car note will still be there when I get back, I figure), or dropping my second job, or eating out, or owning a whole bunch of cool shit.

Fuck all that, I want to go to Japan.

“I can’t leave my job.” Bullshit. You can. I did. I left a retail job that paid me more than I’ve ever made in my life. I dropped that shit like a rock. I had $20,000 in debt and I just left the job. Left it and moved to a town where I had to start from scratch. I didn’t have a job lined up. I had two cats, an apartment, no roommate, no job, only enough money to last me a month and a half and some serious bills. I made it. I made it and I’m happier now than I ever was in my old job. I make less but I’m putting away more.

If I felt like it, I could strip naked right now and run down the middle of the highway. It’s completely and physically possible. I don’t. Because I don’t want to and the cost-benefit ratio is shit. That doesn’t mean I can’t.

“My husband doesn’t love me.” Leave him. Life’s really quite simple. We just like to make it really complicated. We’re all guilty, including me. It can be hard to say what we need to say but sometimes it just needs to be said. I know. There are things that I need to say that aren’t getting said. But when you try to reframe your choice as an “I can’t,” you’re deluding yourself.

Yea, life sucks sometimes. And some of us, myself especially, really like to bitch about how much it sucks. I could make a career out of complaining about how much I work. But I don’t stop. I could. I could stop working the second job and be just fine. But I’m sticking with it for now. That extra money is hella nice and besides, it gives me something to bitch about.

Hell, I could quit both my jobs and be just damn peachy. I’d figure something out. Trust me, it doesn’t matter what happens, you’ll figure something out. Always. You might live out of your car for a while, but you’ll make it.

“Oh, well, Fox, you just don’t know.” Fuck you. I do know. That’s why I say it. Anyone who tells you some shit like that doesn’t know themselves. They’re convinced their imaginary little cage is real. And god forbid you give them the key. God forbid you show them that losing their job, or their house, or their entire CD collection is not the end of the world. They’ll live. They’ll move on. They might even be better for it.

In fact, I highly recommend it. Lose everything and gain everything. I sat around once with my hopes and dreams scattered in pieces on the floor and realized I didn’t have a fucking Plan B. Well, I made one on the fly and it worked out better than I could have ever dreamed. So while you’re reading your New York Times article feeling sorry for all those people who have lost “everything” due to the economic downturn, realize that one day you may be there yourself. And it’s not the end of the world. You’ll make it, you’ll pull through. Because the things you need you don’t really need. You chose to need them. You chose to live such that you need that money, that job. It’s all you, and no one else.

You can go to Japan, if you want.
You can leave your job, if you want.
You can end that relationship, if you want.

You just have to realize that while it may be unpleasant (and in fact, you may wish to avoid it if possible) you’ll live through it. You’ll make it somehow. It takes a lot of doing to die.

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2 Responses to “Our cages are really just our choices”

  1. Dargon Says:

    We’ve had this discussion before. For some of us, those bars are a lot thicker than others. As I said, if I were to drop out of college right now, and my loans were to undefer, coupled with my medical bills and my car payments, I’d have over $1000 in financial obligations before I even looked at rent or food. Bankrupsty wouldn’t help much, since that’d wipe the medical bills and the car payments, but at the loss of the (over half paid off) car, leaving me with my student debt (which is the overwhelming majority) and no transportation, even worse off.

    Sure, I could deal with it, but the hole I’d end up in would rather suck.

    That being said, getting laid off due to the economic downturn, at least at this point, seems like it was a good thing. Gave me an excuse to go back to school, a low enough income to score some financial aid, and cut the obligations that kept me locked in Dallas.

  2. I can honestly say that I’ve never been laid off and it be worse afterwards than before.

    Now, that’s not true speaking strictly financially, but I really don’t place a lot of personal value on money.

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