I am in much the same situation. Yes, I have an incredible amount of outstanding debt now that I've taken on the purchase of the house, but I'm already working on eroding that debt as quickly as possible. I also have outstanding debts on my credit cards now, but I'm working on erasing those as well with equal ferocity -- in a few short years I'll have no revolving debt and will have paid down a large portion of my home loans. Through it all I own my truck free-and-clear, I have a steady job that does not run the risk of disappearing tomorrow, and I get a load of benefits such as free tuition and company-sponsored medical insurance plans. When I look at it all I realize that I am truly blessed... because some people don't have these some of these things, and yet others don't have any of these things.
Some folks I know have set all the comforts and securities aside. The things I take for granted on a daily basis are almost entirely foreign to these individuals. They've struck out on their own, and are determined to be self-sufficient by doing the things they love doing, usually for an unappreciative public and at a considerably lower grade of pay than what they really deserve. The people I'm speaking of don't get free tuition, they don't have comprehensive medical coverage, they sometimes aren't even sure where tomorrow's money for groceries will be coming from. They're living in a way that could be generously be described as "hand to mouth," and it's taking its toll on them, slowly but surely it wears upon them. Despite the crushing weight of these worries they somehow manage to continue on, unwavering in their desire to remain independent, driven to prevail despite the odds that loom before them. They're dedicated, hard-working individuals who -- while struggling -- are doing something I couldn't ever do: they're living without guarantees. They don't know if the next sale they make will pay the rent, they aren't able to rely upon receiving a set amount of cash inflow every other week. It was this fear of uncertainty that prevented me from striking out on my own and forming my own company, something that I think would have left me a generally happier and more productive person. Still, as appealing as it was and as happy as I felt it would make me I couldn't break free. Yes, it was and still is a rut that I live in... but it's a comfortable rut, because there are certainties that come with it. I'm certain that I'll have a job tomorrow, I'm certain that my paycheck will be the same amount as it was the week before last. I'm certain that if I have to go to the hospital to get my tonsils or apprendix removed I'll have insurance coverage to handle it. The certainties, the guarantees... they're the chains that bind me, and I can't summon the courage to break them. I think that a lot of the general public is in this same position. Like Tyler said, "The things you own, end up owning you." It is the same with benefits and security... you pay a price for them. That cost can be so incalcuably high -- it can be the difference between safety and the freedom to do what you want. What protects me hinders me.
These friends of mine haven't just slipped free of these shackles, they've shattered them. As I said, they live without these guarantees, and while they're having a very hard go of it at present... they're still succeeding. Despite the odds that stand against them, despite the risks they run... they are still succeeding in being independent and doing what they love. They're doing what I can only dream of doing.
Sure, it's easy for some people to say they want to make their living as a writer or an artist, or to claim that they're doing so right now. Saying it doesn't make it true, however. A number of these people have a comfortable part-time or full-time job to fall back upon, or they can tap the household income provided by their spouse or significant other. While their art or writing may be impressive, those people are not the folks I want to recognize here. These friends I am referring to -- they are their own providers, their sole income is derived from the works they produce and sell. If they don't make a $150 sale they can't say "Oh darn, well, I guess I'll put in an extra day of filing at the office." They don't have that option and don't want it. If they don't make that sale they have to find an alternative sale of the same value, or hope to clear a number of smaller sales for the same figure if they want to make rent this month.
I hope these friends of mine know how much I look up to them, how greatly I admire their mettle and the dedication they show when they say I'm going to make this work. I couldn't be more proud of them and they deserve far more recognition than they receive not only for their creative efforts but simply for the bravery they have exhibited in striking out on their own. I hold them in the highest esteem and each day I aspire to be as self-sufficient and self-assured as they are.
I'm honored to call these distingiushed people my friends.
The spider won't forget