Once You’ve Taken The Red Pill

I can’t trace back to an exact date when I started taking the red pill, but I know that I’ve been taking it in small doses all my life, and for the past sixteen years regularly. In case you’re not sure what I’m referring to, it is a reference taken from The Matrix trilogy, now used popularly to refer to waking up to reality and truth.

Once you begin truly thinking for yourself, examining the whys and the hows, and being slightly suspicious of the truth behind everything you hear and think you know, there is no going back to the innocence and ignorance that you may have enjoyed before. No matter how much you might wish to go back to a life where you accepted the status quo, you can’t go back.

After some time, you will find that you are on the outskirts of the status quo, watching everyone participating around you, while you wonder what might be left for you. You can’t participate with those who are seemingly content with the way things are because you don’t understand how they continue to fail to awaken and they don’t understand what’s wrong with you and why you just can’t be happy. This is where I find myself now.

So what are your options? What are mine? All of us who find ourselves here on the fringe, on the edge, have to find some way to live outside of the status quo as much as possible, while we find a way to build a life and a world of our own imagining.

Eventually, more and more people will leave the status quo and will come to join the rest of us. This is how the world will change. It won’t happen in the space of a few months, or even a few years. It won’t be a sudden change in the world. Rather, individuals have been changing their lives. Now these individuals have started to gather with people similar to them and small groups are forming. Small, yet growing, movements are leading by example, sharing their ideas and knowledge, often in blog form, and more individuals feel drawn to experiment for themselves, and find a way to live true to their essence on the outskirts of the status quo.

So I’ve kept you in suspense long enough haven’t I? How am I going to live outside the system that I can no longer tolerate?

I am going to retire early and simplify my life. By early I mean at the end of 2015, at 35 years of age.

What were you expecting? Something more dramatic? Something more magical? Or perhaps you’re wondering how?

I will probably write further posts to explain some of this in more detail, especially if there’s any interest. But here are the bare bones of what I intend and what I am doing so far:

For the first 9 years of my working life I have saved hard (and then my husband joined me) and we have a house that is paid for. Thus our largest expense, the mortgage, is no longer an obstacle.

I no longer see our house as a “starter home”. I refuse to buy into the notion that I need something bigger and newer in a nicer location. The energy (time spent at work plus denying myself mental and intellectual freedom) that would be required to “upgrade” our house and lifestyle, is not something that is worthwhile nor feasible for me.

I could technically stop going to work now and rely on my husband’s income. There is no way I’m going to do that though. My financial independence is essential to me. I could not be the feminist that I am and simultaneously rely on my husband for resources. This might not sit well with some of you, and it may offend others of you, and yet this is what I am. And so, I will spend the next four years, saving and simplifying, so that I may achieve my financial freedom.

I have been reading the book and blog by Jacob, over at Early Retirement Extreme, and so much of what he says resonates deeply with me. As a numbers person myself, I enjoy his analysis and the way he has crunched the numbers for himself. To that end I have begun creating a few spreadsheets which calculate daily expenditure, average expenditure and projected savings progress. I aim to save at least 80% of my income over the next four years.

As I save I will learn more about how to simplify my life and how to become more self-subsistent. Although I wouldn’t consider myself to be a big consumer, most people know I don’t even enjoy going shopping, there is more I can do to combat my consumerism. I am reading about how to eat more simply and am making progress with this. Grocery expenses are our largest expenditure. I intend to learn how to sew and to expand our vegetable garden.

I won’t be able to be completely self-subsistent and will thus be living somewhat inside the economic system of our world. I will focus on buying only those things that are a need, with the intention of buying quality items that last almost a lifetime, rather than succumbing to the need to upgrade constantly.

Once I have a high level of savings, I intend to live off the interest earned. I don’t intent to “play the stockmarket” or to become a financial wiz. Unfortunately none of that really interests me. At this stage I intend to earn interest from my savings (either from a term deposit or a high savings account) and live off that interest. At this stage my aim is to live comfortably and happily off around $12k – $15k a year. I realise that this wouldn’t be possible without living within the economic structure we have in place and until I come up with a better strategy, this doesn’t bother me too much.

What I have presented above is put in basic terms, but it really isn’t much more difficult than that. I have always said that if only there was a job where you could get paid to be an eternal student, learning whatever you want whenever you want, then that would be my dream job. Unfortunately there is no such occupation, and unless I find a patron soon, I will have to fund my own dream.

The only thing I’ve ever truly wanted is to be free. I’ve tried to convince myself from inside our world system that I am, but since taking the red pill I know I’m not. I can’t just get on with it and be happy with the way things are now that I know better. Having had this brief hiatus from “the real world” I now know how sweet it is and that this is the life for me.

To reach my potential and to find deep fulfilment I need time, space and flexibility. To achieve this I need to exit the world of work and to do this I need to exit the world of consumerism.

I’m not the first to do this, and I know I won’t be the last. I’m joining one of the small movements.

And what will I be doing from 2016 onwards? I don’t know yet. I envision that it entails more sustained writing and a deeper contribution to moving this world in a new direction. But it is too soon to start talking about that.

I may find that I don’t meet my target or that my calculations were optimistic. I may find a need to continue with part time work for either financial reasons or otherwise. This is all ok with me. I know that either way, 2016 will be the year of my true freedom.

What will you do now that you’ve taken the red pill?

I’d love to hear what you think about this or address any questions you might have.

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