woman gives up job for a permanent vacation. internet rejoices.

words mary von aue

If you’ve been on the internet this week, you’ve no doubt seen that inspiring post in LiveJournal, er, Harper’s Bazaar, about another 30 something quitting her successful job to go live on an island.  I don’t know how it happens but these stories are the caviar of click bait. Eat. Pray. Love. Share.

Of course, there is always the element of spirituality that leads them to stop working, and a glossing over of the financial backing that would even make an early retirement feasible. Regardless of how impractical and irrelevant it is, worker bees love to hear about the people who got to stop working, and so we drool over these 1300 word motivational posters.

There is a chicken in my shower. It's 8:30 a.m., I've just sat down on the toilet to pee. I casually glance around and there it is, drinking some of the residual water puddled on my shower floor."

I’ve shared a bathroom with worse, but I don’t see how this is a scene to aspire to.  We constantly celebrate the act of leaving one’s job as some profound and noble deed. It is a luxurious decision that somehow gets worshipped as though the permanent vacationer were walking the path of the Buddha.  But really, how does one get to quit working and move to an island in their 30s?

“It all began four years ago. Back then I was living in Manhattan, a 31-year-old journalist making $95,000 a year. I lived in a lovely (wildlife-free) apartment in the East Village, a bustling neighborhood with every imaginable convenience and so much to entertain. But New York is a competitive city; you have to spend most of your time working to afford to live there.”

First of all, talk about burying the lede. She made $95,000 a year as a journalist? I... have nothing snarky to say about that. Well done, Noelle Hancock. 

 “And a downside of living among so many ambitious people is they're often over scheduled. Sometimes I didn't see my closest friends for months at a time. Trying to negotiate a time to meet a friend for drinks was harder than getting into college (and the cocktails about as expensive).”

That joke is only funny if your parents paid for every aspect of your college career save for your bar tab. Oh wait, that’s what they did, didn’t they?

If college did, in fact, cost only as much as the alcohol, I bet the benefactors were not pleased to hear about the new career move:

"But, but ... you went to Yale," they sputtered. "And you're 31 years old!"

Yeah, Yale costs a little more than a mimosa.  And this lifestyle choice isn’t an option for people with student loans.

"I need a vacation." This was a constant refrain in my head. I wasn't living in the moment; I was living for some indeterminate moment in the future when I'd saved enough money and vacation days to take a trip somewhere. If you're constantly thinking you need a vacation, maybe what you really need is a new life. But I was complacent. My life wasn't satisfying, but it was comfortable."

If this girl needed a vacation from feeling comfortable, how badly do folks need a vacation from feeling uncomfortable? Man, maybe she has a point. Maybe we should all just stop working and start feeling comfortable.

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