The year was 2005. I was having my lunch on a bench in the Trocadero Park, at the shadow of the Tour Eiffel. Hordes of tourists were bustling on the esplanade, photographing the breathtaking view. Me, on the other hand, was quite unimpressed by the view for which tens of millions fly to France each year. I had seen it hundreds of times. I was working at less than half a mile from the glorious symbol of Paris, in a software company providing the trading floor software for most of the banks in the top 50 world. Living and working there, in the 16eme Arrondissement, the poshest quarter of Paris, showed me that everything is possible; even for a Romanian geek born in the last decade of the communism regime and whose parents’ salaries were less than $200 per month. Me, on the other hand, had gotten my raise and, at age 24, was earning monthly more than both did in 1 year.
The occasional Bordeaux bottle of wine and Brie cheese. Rollerskating on the shores of Seine. A secure, well paid job. Some would have thought it was the perfect life. Me, I felt it as a glorious golden cage which was sucking the life out of me.
Maybe it was the late work hours with lots of overtime. Maybe it was the corporate life and the monotonous routine. Or maybe I was craving for adventure, for independence, for freedom.
It was a hard choice but I eventually made it. A few months later, on April 13th 2006 I left France, returning to my home country. I had no plans for my future, no safety net. All I knew was that I didn’t want to work ‘for the man’ anymore. This was the start of my second life and the best decision I ever made.
It’s 2011 now, 5 years since my departure. I haven’t had a ‘classic’ job since. I don’t think I could ever go back to being a normal 9-to-5 worker. The tree of independence has grown much too big, its roots are way too deep inside me. I wake up at the time of my choosing, go to sleep when I want, I work from whatever location I desire. As long as I have an Internet connection, I can work. I am my own boss and love it. There are ups and downs, and once in a while the occasional emotional roller-coaster. But overall I feel happier and more alive than I had 5 years ago. Independence rules.
It’s easier than it looks. All you need to do is start letting go of your fears. Being a freelancer, self-employed, small entrepreneur or indie developer is now at everyone’s reach. You don’t need to be a software programmer. You don’t need to be a talented writer. You don’t have to be an uber geek. But you can still be your own boss. There are countless opportunities for those who seek them.
Now, when I have the occasional wine and Brie cheese, or when I visit foreign countries, I can finally enjoy myself. The difference from 5 years ago is that, now, I actually love my life and enjoy my work.
Are you happy with yours? Do you enjoy your work? If not, what are you waiting for?