Thursday, July 5, 2018

Simplifying your life is apparently weird

Earlier this year, I was planning to move to another province. Although I have since put off this decision so I could focus on my writing rather than adjusting to a new life in a new city, at the time it was pretty stressful. Weighing the pros and cons of every decision is especially difficult if you’re an over-thinker who tends to fixate on one point after another until it’s just one big jumbled mess in your brain.

That aside, I discovered, very quickly, that my somewhat gypsy lifestyle is thought to be weird. Not having a long-term, settled addressed makes people suspicious. Switching jobs, not having a lot of possession (especially a car) seems to disturb people. In fact, many look at me sadly as if I worked my whole life for…what? Nothing? I don’t have a house, a car or family to ‘show’ for my life. I mean, sure, I wrote a few books in a short period but it’s not the kind of tangible stuff that most would consider normal.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, up until 2010, I actually had a car, possessions like furniture and a job that I had worked at for many years; think double digits. However, when I decided to move to Vancouver, many of these things that I needed became a huge weight tying me down. I wasn’t about to bring everything with me so I had to purge, sell and for the most part, practically give away many of the possessions that I had worked so hard to get in the first place. I was left thinking that it was incredibly ridiculous. Why do we work so hard for this stuff that really just anchors us and makes it difficult to have freedom?

When I left BC a few years later and returned to the east coast, I was content to leave my furnished apartment aside, only having to purge a few items since I kept my possessions limited over the years, allowing me to never get tied down in the same way again.

So back to earlier this year. I’m attempting to move to a furnished apartment however, it’s quickly proven a difficult process because as it turns out, there aren’t many furnished apartments. Many that are out there are quite frankly, fucking dumps with ‘furniture’ resembling the crap you pull off the sidewalk when moving to your first apartment in college. Other places were nice but expensive. It was difficult to find anything in between and for some reason, trying to simplify my life actually became very difficult. Many furnished apartments weren’t all included and if they were, sometimes landlords weren’t getting back to me with images etc. It was frustrating.

I actually had one particularly difficult experience with a landlord while looking in Halifax who apparently thought that part of the interview process involved asking me why I moved so much. Well, why the fuck not? Why do I have to justify my lifestyle choice? Why does anyone? Clearly, I was a weirdo because this particular guy grew suspicious and said he would only maybe rent to me if I was willing to drive the 3-4 hours to meet him in person and even then he couldn’t guarantee anything. Essentially he was a judgemental dick however, he wasn’t alone.

Other things that potential landlords found weird included wanting everything included in the rent; heat lights, along with furniture. Why? Well, here’s an interesting fact. It’s nice to know exactly what your expenses are each month with no crazy surprises in January. Why is that strange? Landlords also thought that it was strange I didn’t have work lined up in the potential cities I was looking to move. Have you ever tried to get a job in a city that you don’t already live in? They pretty much toss your résumé aside because it just seems like a fucking hassle. There are too many concerns that you might not actually move or find a place in time to start the job. I had money in the bank but that seemed kind of irrelevant. The fact that I have a long resume of jobs, skills, and experience moving somewhere new and finding work right away also seemed irrelevant.

The point is that we are encouraged to simplify our lives but try it; people will think you are a freak too. Get rid of all your possessions other than the things you really need and the world shakes their head. A minimalist? What the fuck is that? Why do you want to pretend you’re poor? They don’t understand how you can be happy in life without a lot of stuff. Also, as I expressed, the world doesn’t exactly support this kind of lifestyle. Try finding a furnished apartment. Try trying to explain why you don’t have or want a car. Try to justify giving away stuff you feel weighs you down. People will treat you as if you have a psychological disorder. I promise.

It’s not fair. Why must I justify how I choose to live? Why am I required to toe the line and do what everyone else does? Why must I explain my decision to live differently?

It almost seems as if society has ideas about how we all must live and feels the need to put tremendous pressure and shame on those who don’t fit into their beliefs.

There's a very unconventional guy that I see around and when I do, we chat. He has two homes. One doesn’t have electricity. He’s eccentric, an artist who very much marches to the beat of his own drum. He talks about how these two environments spark his creativity for various reasons. I find that fascinating. I know that some people think he’s strange and when I stand in the middle of a coffee shop talking to him, I can sense people looking at us strangely but it’s because I like him. He doesn’t feel the need to be like everyone else. He is living on his own terms. He doesn’t care what others think. To me, that takes courage.

I actually feel like when I do set out to move again and start looking for a new apartment, I might have to lie. Apparently being someone who just likes to move a lot is suspicious and weird so I will have to say something socially acceptable. Maybe I’m the side girlfriend of a rich politician who is paying my way and wants me closer by or maybe I’m an abused wife starting over. Oddly enough, these reasons seem like they would pass clearance faster than the truth. Sad, isn’t it?

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