People Are People

by FI Fighter on November 9, 2018

in Financial Independence, Post FI, Thoughts, Thoughts

I’ve been a contrarian my entire life… Wait, you might want to scratch that and just outright say OUTCAST, which might be a better term to use… I mean, ever since I was a little kid, I kind of always knew that I was different from the majority of my peers…

From my earliest memories, I remember another little kid telling me I was “too Chinese” to play baseball… and that I shouldn’t bother wasting my time.

Welcome to reality!

Fast forward many years later, and I graduated from college with dual major degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Engineering… but even on the day of commencement ceremony, I vividly recall walking up to the stage to receive my diploma thinking, “But I don’t wanna do this stuff.

I didn’t.

By the end of my working engineering career, I found myself at Apple (AAPL) dabbling with power management (DC/DC) solutions and working on programming automation scripts for characterization/bench testing.

WTF, right?!?

But I have no regrets, and I’m thankful I never gave in to “herd mentality” or who knows where/how my life would have turned out?!?!

So, keeping an open mind is always something that is going to be inherent in my nature/being… which I’m finding is helping me profoundly carve out the life that I ultimately know that I want to lead…

With all the background stuff out the way, this brings me to the main point of this post, which is — People are people.

What I mean by that is, on the day-to-day/micro scale, we strive so hard to find “identity” and to try and figure out just who we are exactly…

And yes, although in many ways I do feel like an OUTCAST all the time, if you step back and look at the “bigger picture”, on the more macroscopic scale, I’m no different than anyone else on this planet…

In other words, we are all very much the fucking same, point blank, bottom line… once you filter away and strip out all the noise…

 

How does this all relate to early FI and the pursuit of it?

 

For me, it’s simple really…

 

Life really isn’t all that complicated… Human beings, no matter who you are or where you come from all desire/aspire/seek the same things out of life — We want to find people we connect and bond with. We want to have a fun. We want to enjoy good food. We want to watch the latest films. We want to listen and indulge in the latest tunes.

Etc. Etc.

We all want meaning and purpose.

And ultimately, we just want to be happy.

But here’s the crazy thing, and serious realization/epiphany that I had many years back when I first started plotting for early FI — We can have all those things… and find a way to MAXIMIZE our time on this earth immersing ourselves in all those wonderful things… if we open up our minds to infinite possibilities.

For everyone, the answers are gonna be different and no two paths are gonna be identical… And that’s perfectly ok.

 

But here’s the trap that I never wanted to fall victim to…

 

Years ago, before I quit corporate engineering, I heard a horror story that kinda shook me to my core… Apparently, a big shot corporate executive that my old colleagues knew very well, retired from work and spent a few years just chilling out before he became bored out of his mind and wanted nothing more than to go back to work… I forget all the details (it’s been too long), but apparently he wasn’t in very good health, anyway, but despite that fact, chose to go back to the grind because he lacked meaning and purpose post-retirement… Not long after returning back to the ol’ 9-5 gig, he fell seriously ill, and passed away shortly after…

 

The dude was worth many, many, many millions of dollars, but left us all way too soon…

 

No, I’m definitely not saying he didn’t make the right call… After all, I didn’t even know the guy… and it was his life, he was free to do whatever it is that he wanted to…

 

But all that stuff just made me think back to the film The Shawshank Redemption and the whole concept of “being institutionalized…”

 

 

Red: “These walls are kind of funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized. They send you here for life, that’s exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyways.”

 

And I just never wanted to get to that state of being in my own life…

 

Which is why I strived so desperately for early FI…

 

The problem with being “institutionalized” is that we can become prisoners to our own rigid/fixed mindset… and although the effects are subtle at first, over time, human beings really lose elasticity in their thoughts and can start to operate in a very predictable manner, unbeknownst to that particular individual (of course)…

And this is how you can become really trapped in the Game of Life

Which brings me to my next story…

Once you’ve been “conditioned” a certain way, man, it’s just brutally tough to re-wire/re-program a person…

For instance, I have a friend in Hong Kong who is slaving away at the 9-5 every single day and is burnt out beyond belief with all the stress of everyday life… Of course, this person knows very well how hard they work, so they are very frugal and save as much $$$ as possible… Be that as it may, as everyone in HK knows full well, the price of housing/rent has skyrocketed over the last say 20 years, and for most common everyday folks, owning a home is fast becoming an impossibility…

But like, when you’re already really deep into the weeds, you kind of just adapt to the way things are… to the only life that you’ve ever known… So, despite all the struggles, my friend has completely shut the doors on all possibilities of moving away from HK, and instead, bit the bullet and signed up for a YUGE mortgage (that they couldn’t even afford on their own and needed to bring in partners to fund) and pretty much accepted that they will be working 9-5 for the rest of their life… trying to pay off this GINORMOUS bill…

I mean, if this is indeed what my friend actually wants out of life, then sure, why not, more power to them! But somehow, I just feel like it’s not… Otherwise the person wouldn’t be so miserable much of the time…

Just for fun, in casual conversations, I’ve brought up the possibility of moving away from HK for my friend to entertain… but they wouldn’t have any of it…

It wasn’t a topic open for discussion…

Case closed…

Sticking to the status quo, baby!

Which I mean, I guess I’m really not all that surprised… Even back in the Bay Area, where $1 million can’t even buy you a dilapidated shack, people are slaving away day and night trying to make ends meet… and who refuse to leave! For myself, I was born and raised in the Bay Area, and although I still think it’s a decent place, c’mon, at the end of the day, I’m not THAT enamored with it!

Again, people are people… everywhere on this fucking planet!

I just feel like… I can have a good time, anywhere… and I refuse to trade away 30 years of my life just to pay off a stupid (overpriced) home… just so I can be anchored to a very specific location…

I’ve had good food in the Bay Area…

I’ve had good food in Manila too…

Which shouldn’t be all that surprising…

Is the food in the Bay Area worth 5-10x what I’m paying here in Manila?

I would say, “No way!

 

Moving on…

 

I have friends and family back home in the Bay Area…

Well, I’ve tried to keep my mind OPEN as possible, and when I first arrived here in Manila, I started from scratch… Now I have many friends and family in Manila…

 

No, I’m not saying it’s easy to uproot yourself from home and start anew again…

But it’s not impossible, either…

 

Likewise when it comes to housing… I just don’t think the Bay Area is that magnificent where I wanna justify working many, many, many more years just to try and hack it there… and sign up for a 30 year mortgage that I need to struggle massively to pay off… when I can buy a home out here in Manila for a fraction of the price…

 

For anyone on the journey to early FI, we all know that time is the most valuable currency…

 

So, I dunno, once you can accept that “people are people” and realize that no matter where you go in this world, because everything is so globalized these days, most places feel almost entirely the same…

I mean, even out here in Manila, all your “local favorites” are readily found… anywhere you go…

“Home” is never far away…

To be quite frank, most of the time I don’t even realize that I’m in the Philippines (as opposed to California)… As it pertains to the Philippines specifically, the country is totally Westernized… Everyone here speaks fluent English… American culture (movies, tv shows, music, food, basketball, etc.) is deeply embedded and rooted in the local culture, and it’s just as seamless a transition as one you could ever hope to possibly find if you’re an American living abroad…

Pretty much any cinema at the mall will have the latest Hollywood films showing…

Further, all you really need is wi-fi, and you’re usually good to go…

Netflix (NFLX) is super popular out here in Manila and that makes it especially easy to help you access your favorite tv shows from back home…

So is YouTube, Spotify, etc…

 

And people are people…

 

We talk the same shit…

Laugh at the same jokes…

Unwind and chill out in the same manner…

Umm… Well, perhaps not entirely… LOL!

But as the saying goes, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.

If anything, though, I think it’s just mindset and refusing to look at things through a myopic lens…

It’s 2018, dude…

The world is MUCH BIGGER than just any particular micro bubble…

People who refuse to believe that you can have fun anywhere else on the planet outside of places like the Bay Area, or Hong Kong, are just… closed minded… and perhaps even missing out on something spectacular…

And you have to be such an elitist snob to think and feel like YOUR version of fun is gonna be all that much better and superior to everyone else’s…

At the end of the day, if you can have a good time “anywhere”, then what’s gonna be the deciding factor?

Time of course.

How do you maximize time!?!

 

Again, time is our most precious and valued currency of them all…

 

Time is what it’s all about!

 

And with more time on my side, I can honestly say that I’ve had more fun out here in Manila over the last month than I had in the 10 full years in the Bay Area when I was a working corporate stiff…

 

Long-term readers of this blog will get where I’m coming from…

 

To many folks from back home who are reading this and who think I’m batshit crazy (still), c’mon ya’ll, open up your mind… and get out more! 😉

 

Believe it or not — There are plenty of AMAZING people across the globe… and some of them even want to meet you and get to know you better…

 

If you’re open to the possibilities…

 

But that’s up to you…

 

Fight On!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JoeNo Gravatar November 9, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Hi Jay,

The lifestyle looks great over in Manila. Enjoy!

I am one of those who early-retired and settled in the Bay Area, although I did move over to Asia for about 4 years before coming back. In defense of the Bay Area, although the real estate prices seem ridiculous, the compensation more than makes up for it if you keep at it. Compensation of $300k-$500k a year is common around here, and many make well over $1M a year. It may take several years of grinding it out to get to that level. I started out at $40k fresh out of school, but ended up at $400k-$500k when I quit 11 years ago. The annual increases are massive if you keep at it… This was 11 years ago and I am certain pay packages are a lot higher these days.

Most people I know have paid off their mortgages long ago, or never had one. I don’t know anyone struggling to pay mortgage, but I mostly know people in their 30s, 40s, 50s. It just takes time to get to that level. Your friend in HK may be having a hard time now, but perhaps in several years his compensation will double or triple or more.

By the way I settled here mostly for family and for raising a kid. If I was still single, I’d definitely consider living in Asia again.

Reply

2 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 9, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Joe,

Yes, absolutely the Bay Area is a terrific place to locate to advance one’s career and make a lot of money. If health/sanity permits, I would completely agree that one should stay as long as possible and maximize their earnings, especially during their prime working years…

With that said, if work is driving a person insane and/or causing serious health issues (like what happened in my own situation), then it may be worthwhile to look for much cheaper alternatives…

In terms of mortgages, yes, anyone who got in early is pretty much setup good, but for the young bucks just starting out today, even if enormous salaries, a $1 million mortgage is no easy task to slay…

But who knows? Maybe Bay Area incomes will keep skyrocketing to keep pace?

All the best!

Reply

3 GarethNo Gravatar November 9, 2018 at 5:52 pm

I think one point to consider is family. Many people (especially Asian people) like to be near family and extended family, and once family is settled into a particular region, it’s hard to migrate everyone elsewhere. I am working on the East coast away from my family and it is hard for me, even after I made a lot of new friends here. This is part of my motivation to strive toward FI.

Reply

4 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 9, 2018 at 8:27 pm

Gareth,

Yes, for sure family is an important consideration when thinking about relocating… I’m also very close to my family and extended family so it’s not easy being many thousands of miles away…

But for many people, the reality of early FI is that it’s not easy to do, and compromises need to be made… Geographic Arbitrage makes a lot of things easier but the caveat is stuff like being far away from family…

I still miss home, but am learning to deal with the distance… Tools like Skype definitely make things easier than in the past.

All the best!

Reply

5 VincentNo Gravatar November 10, 2018 at 10:34 pm

A brilliant and ‘all-too-familiar-with’ post Jay! This is one of the reasons I took a leap of faith over four years ago – packed my stuff and moved from Amsterdam to Sydney. Following the (Dutch) love of my life. No regrets (at all!). I have been meaning to get back to you pertaining your ‘thank you’ newsletter / mining stocks ebook. I will follow up and donate with regards to the latter but I have just been mad busy as of late (not all work related ????).

Reply

Leave a Comment

 

Previous post:

Next post:

Copyright © 2012 FI Fighter