Passive and Active Living

I’m still trying to break free from the patterns of thinking from my prior life. I used to be driven primarily by the desire to reach goals that were often set for me by others. In this approach, I would have structure in my life, feel a sense of accomplishment when I met my goals, and others would be happy as well.  So for 35 years I put my blinders on and trudged towards my goals in discrete, pre-planned steps.

How My Parents Raised Me

A big reason I followed this pattern is because of how my parents raised me. When I was younger, my parents would try to steer me rather than let me explore for myself. I believe this is the reason I grew up without many hobbies outside of video games (my way of escape more than anything else). The more I didn’t want to do something, the more they would try to get me to do it, leading to fatiguing days-long arguments that often would not end until I submitted or demurred. So I withdrew from them in my teenage years as a direct result of their approach with me.

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Whiskers is not happy.

This played out in my career path too. When I was applying for college towards the end of high school, I was undecided about my future major. It seemed like such a monumental decision that could define what I did for the rest of my life. It was so big that I just wanted to keep pushing it off. My strong subjects had always been math and science and my weak subjects were humanities and languages. But I just didn’t know. My parents “strongly encouraged” me to pick medicine (big no) or electrical engineering. I went along with the latter since I didn’t really have a strong conviction either way and it played to my strengths.

Majoring in EE wasn’t a terrible decision and I did pretty well in college. But it wasn’t really a decision I made for myself and it showed. By senior year, I had decided I didn’t want to work as an engineer and I started to look for something else, which turned out to be law. Granted I didn’t know why I wanted to pivot to law, but at least I knew EE as a career was not for me and this was a decision I arrived at on my own.

Fighting the Current

Lately I’ve been thinking about my relationship with my parents a lot as they have been increasingly and annoyingly unrelenting in trying to get me back to the workforce. It’s actually caused quite a bit of friction between us over the past few months. So in part this has been a post to vent.

I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not working because I’ll only ever work again if it’s something I feel strongly about (and I haven’t found it). My mom’s argument boils down to what society and other people think about someone who isn’t working. That’s obviously not compelling to me. My dad’s best argument doesn’t really make sense. He says I need to work on something I’m passionate about. Duh, that’s what I’m trying to do!

Anyway, their attempted influence feels like a big figurative hand shoving me towards a certain direction. That’s exactly what I don’t need right now as I’m trying to use this time to learn more about myself and my interests. Prior to leaving the law, I did not have much opportunity to do this since I was always so focused on one “goal” or another.

For almost the first time since I was a teenager, my parents have made me want to pull away. They seemingly cannot understand why their actions are actually counterproductive to their goals for me, however well-intentioned. My subconscious is going to subject any perceived outside influence to heightened scrutiny to make sure it is aligned with what I want for myself. Anything short of that means reverting to old habits of letting others dictate what I should do with my life.

Steering My Own Ship

We’ve now been back for almost ten months. Life still feels a little structured due to my wife’s work schedule and the fact that we share a car so I try to drop her off or pick her up. I think about playing golf almost all the time. I played five times last week, but usually play three or four times a week, taking a day off in between rounds. On days I am off (like today), I feel like I haven’t played in ages and look forward to the next round. Yesterday, I played a new-to-me course called the Ranch that is cut into the hills of San Jose. The first 12 holes require pinpoint accuracy to hit over barrancas and up/down significant changes in elevation. It was quite a thrill compared to the usual parkland courses I play.

Ranch No 10

Hole No. 10 at the Ranch requires an elevated tee shot, followed by an approach shot to a walled-off green (from theranchgc.com/gallery)

Sometimes I wonder if I’m overdoing the golf, but thoughts about “what do I have to show for this?” are the result of the inner-voice that I’m trying to quash. If I ever get tired of golf, I’m sure I’ll move on. But not yet. In the meantime, I will try to keep my mind open as to other pursuits and have the courage to pursue whatever grabs my interest.

20 thoughts on “Passive and Active Living

  1. I am glad you are finally doing things for yourself, and not for your parents. I am currently going through the same thing, as I think that most or all of the big decisions in my life were driven by my father. I guess in their own ways, they think they are doing the best for us, but they don’t realize it’s from their own perspective and not ours. In a way FIRE will be the ultimate rebellion to the life we were told to live. I just wish we had the choice when we were younger, so we won’t go to extremes. Heck, FIRE to a lot of people is extreme, but to people like us who study and enjoy reading about it all day through blogs and forums, it had become our outlet. I hope you keep your posts more frequent, so I can follow your footsteps in the transition (currently in my second OMY).

    • Thanks for the comment, Tom. I’m still pretty happy about how it all turned out. I wonder if I had done it all my way if I’d end up in a position where FIRE was unattainable. Who knows. I will definitely try to post more often, but there’s always more to say pre-FIRE. Hope you are able to pull the plug on work soon!

  2. > what society and other people think about someone who isn’t working.

    Err, I, as part of society, think that you’re awesome for not having to work because you have saved up enough money. Awesome, keep it up, enjoy your life!

  3. I would just recommend trying the best you can to remove your parents and society from the decision. Don’t do anything just to oppose or meet societal or parental expectations. You do you. Right now that’s golf. Golf your fucking brains out.

  4. I’m so glad you updated! Are your parents worried that you will run out of money?
    I think that’s my parents’ main concern about me leaving BigLaw (I’m still working). My dad had the “great” idea of offering to fund me in setting up a solo shop, which is not something I have ever expressed an interest in doing, and also not something I think I would be very good at.
    People who retire early talk about retiring to “something” as opposed to retiring just to hang out and vege. It sounds like you’re figuring out what that “something” is (in addition to golf), which is a pretty exciting thing to be doing.

    • That might be part of it since they envision a much more financially demanding lifestyle with several kids and funding for private universities, etc. I don’t think we could reasonably do 2 or 3 kids plus Ivy league schools (at full freight) with what we have now.

      Yeah I need to figure out that “something”. What are you plans w/r/t to your future?

      • I’m tentatively planning to leave my job early next year, once I’ve funded my 401k for 2018. Then, relax, spend time on my hobbies, and travel.
        I’m finding it very hard to step off the BigLaw train, knowing that I’ll never make the same kind of money again, even though I’m not particularly happy with what I’m doing.

      • Nice! Would love to hear updates from you. It’s really hard to leave and you might even feel regret for a millisecond when you reconnect with former colleagues. But it goes away really quickly!

  5. One word for you: BOUNDARIES. Limit your engagement with your parents as much as you need to to avoid having them negatively influence you. They already f*ucked with enough of your time on this planet. Now it’s your turn to actually pursue happiness rather than mindlessly doing what will make them happy (and let’s remember that all they’re advocating is nonsense from our larger culture). Your parents might be well intentioned, but their influence and messages are oppressive. And you’ve been socialized your whole life to let the control you. Be wary. Draw and maintain boundaries. Let them know there will be consequences (such as you hanging up the phone, leaving their home, seeing them less, etc) for not respecting your boundaries. See them less if needed. Move farther away if needed. Don’t take their calls if needed. It’s time they learn a new way of interacting with you even it’s hard for them. Also, understand that all people who violate boundaries freak out when you try to set limits. So, expect them to lose their minds a bit and to try to push every button (guilt!) in you that they know how to push. Keep the boundaries! Eventually it’ll work.

    • Thanks for the advice mm. All good ideas. Things have been getting better lately as were in standoff mode for a while. Plus we are planning to move too, although for unrelated reasons!

    • Hi Meg,

      Thanks for checking in! With every day that passes, Biglaw becomes more and more distant in the rearview mirror. I really don’t think I could ever go back. I’m still in reset mode though, but we’re looking to make some big changes in our lives over the next few months. I’ll post about those changes at the appropriate time. I’m still looking forward to finding more meaning in my life. That has turned out to be harder than I thought.

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