Yesterday I received a text from a friend who was pretty upset. She had just been told that she should quit her dream of travelling the world, return home and ‘get a real job’.
Like me, she left her home country a while ago and is now travelling the world to make a better life for herself. Like me, she isn’t entirely sure where she is headed or what she wants from her life, but is currently teaching English to make enough money to get by. Like me, she has faced some harsh criticism for this lifestyle.
I’ve always lead an unconventional lifestyle, turning my back on the worn out tale of post-graduation 9-5 office drone and instead making my money from playing online poker. Naturally in the beginning I faced a lot of caring scepticism from friends and family, who were convinced that it wouldn’t work out, that I’d end up broke and eventually have to join the masses and get a ‘real’ job. I’ll admit that I wasn’t particularly confident of success myself, but where they and I differed on opinion was that they saw a risk of failure and figured that it wasn’t worth trying at all, whereas I saw a dream with a chance of success and gave it my all.
In the same way that poker involves a life of risk and uncertainty, so does leaving home to travel the world with almost no money and no real plan. Along with it came similar voices of scepticism, which my friend had just experienced.
“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” – George Bernard Shaw
When poker did eventually work out for me and I was making a comfortable living from it, travelling the world and living well, I was surprised to see that the criticism never dried up, if anything it became louder. It took me a while to understand what was happening here. Clearly it was possible to make a living this way, I was already doing it, so why were some people still telling me that I couldn’t?
It became clear that some of the initial scepticism I had faced was not in fact well-meaning concern for my welfare, but more a reflection of the inner fears of the sceptics. The most vocal were often the people who were most afraid to take such risks in their own lives, preferring the security of a more traditional job, but just because you are afraid of heights, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t go skydiving.
There is No Real Comfort in Numbers
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that my life choices are any better or worse than your own, the important thing is that they are mine and they are better for me. In the same way that selling all of your possessions and travelling the world with no plan may seem risky and frightening to you, the idea of working a 9-5 for my entire life in the city where I grew up scares me. Only you will know what will make you truly happy in life and that is what you should aim for. So if a nice comfortable life, raising a family in the city where you were born is what would make you happy then I have absolute respect for you and I would never criticise it.
However, the people who are looking most critically at mine or my friends lifestyles are often the least happy with their own lives, but too afraid to take a leap and take a risk at being happy. They instead prefer to berate people like my friend who have done what they can’t, pressuring her to return home and ‘get a real job’, seeing everybody around them on the same path and making the same choices as validation for their own insecurities.
So if you have taken the leap and are having doubts, I say keep your chin up and understand the motives of your doubters.
And If you are one of those people, stuck in a life that you’re not content with, but too afraid to risk changing, stop looking at other people and just think of this.
Is It Even That Big of a Gamble?
The prize for winning: An amazing life which you can be truly happy with.
The cost of losing: A life of mediocrity that never quite went as planned. Well you’re in no worse a position than you already were.
In the world of poker, this kind of situation is called a freeroll. You have a free shot at winning big and almost nothing to lose, all you have to do is play.
Dedicated to Bubu x