Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Finding My Power: Which World?

I was listening to two audio books that randomly ended up perfectly paired. They both dealt with the idea that to live the best, brightest, most awesome life we can, we need other people’s support to make it happen. How each of the authors went about getting that support is all the more important as we gear up for the 45th President of the United States.

The first presents a world in which one goes for the deal. Find out what the market is looking for and give it to them. Test market and don’t start production until you’re sure there’s an audience. Buy your components and advertising cheap and sell your final product for as much as the market will bear. What you can’t get off your plate by streamlining in the process, outsource to the lowest bidder. Then, the payoff. Everybody wants to travel the world, and the global south will let you get a whole lot of bang for the bucks you have coming in.

I think it has some useful ideas. There are ways to work the system to your advantage. I’m particularly fine with doing that to large companies. They can handle it. Our culture runs on money, and making it is a reasonable goal.

The second takes a much more relational look at things. You have your strengths and gifts, they have their strengths and gifts and between you, both sides can come out ahead. If you’re travelling the world, couch surf and in return offer something of yourself. Maybe it’s return surfing, maybe it’s art, maybe it’s an experience, but it’s something that’s yours to give. Make money with your gifts because we all have bills to pay, and always pay your debts. But the payoff is wrapped up in the relationships that you’re building as you share what you have and others share what they have, allowing you all to build richer lives.

This one’s hard. It requires a balance between knowing and believing in yourself and your gifts with the ability to be open to asking for and accepting help. You need to be able to connect with people in a trust that we don’t see very often at this point.

The world as it stands right now supports the first book. If you buy low, sell high, and get a deal, particularly if it makes you rich, then you win. The second is a lot harder, particularly if your interpersonal skills are less than awesome. For the first one, you will be rewarded superficially, but I’m not sure whether it offers true long-term richness. The second one offers the real deal, if you can buck the current culture long enough to develop the relationships.

Right now, it’s all about tweets and “making deals.” Its about making sure that everyone pays up and no one gets a free ride. If you can’t bootstrap yourself into a better position, then its your fault, not the fault of a culture that doesn’t care about you unless you’re rich.

The thing about bootstraps, though? You can’t lift yourself by your own. But you can lift your friends, and they can lift you in return.


Tim Ferriss vs Amanda Palmer

The Plight of the Singleton

This isn’t a Bridget Jones-esque complaint about when Mum will stop asking if I’ve got a boyfriend yet and smug marrieds setting me up. Although if it netted me Colin Firth, I’d be willing to put up with it. No, this is about the challenges of being really independent.

America is all about “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” Physical impossibilities aside, no one ever really does it alone. I know. I’ve tried. I have this independent streak that makes me want to do it myself. Just me! I don’t need help! But if I’m honest, I get help anyway. Of course my family fed, clothed, and sheltered me. But I was also encouraged to explore and try new things. Like horseback riding. It will never be anything but a financial drain- er- wonderful hobby- for me, but it has given me skills with practical applications. Like absolutely no fear of horse manure. I have friends that have done everything from shelter a horse I really couldn’t afford to teach me people skills. There is give and take in every relationship, but I didn’t do any of those things alone.

Now I find myself in a place where I don’t have the ties of family or years of shared history and it’s really highlighting that I can’t do this alone. I need support of some sort. I am meeting some wonderful people and slowly developing that web that everyone needs. We are, after all, a social creature. I am, however, a long way from what I am finding I crave. I hesitate to use the word family, as it’s not the biological ties that I’m after, but it has that feel. People that I know inside out. People that really know me. People with complementary abilities. The kind of deep, intimate ties that aren’t encouraged in a world that is based on your number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

As a single person living alone, all the chores fall on me. I go to work to pay the rent and then come home to cook and clean. If I want to buy a house, it’s my credit score that determines the interest and my income that has to cover the mortgage. We all know the stories of the one that stays in a miserable job to support their significant other that is going to school or starting a business. What I should be doing right now is getting a job with the professionals already in the field that I want to join. Unfortunately, I don’t have a husband that can sign me onto his health insurance and make sure that we have at least some income all 12 months of the year. I have to stick with the field that does offer these things.

Once upon a time, it was understood that each helped in their own way, and being a single person living totally on your own was very unusual. This is not modern-day specialization where all I know how to do is one tiny part of the process. I could chip in to help with anything, but since each has their own strengths, I tend to do the things that cater to them. One was domestic, taking care of the house and cooking. Historically, this was the wife, but more and more husbands are taking on this role in one-income households. One was the income-earner as farmer or laborer or merchant. If you look at history, it’s amazing how many widows went on to take over their late husband’s business, whatever it was. Even the children had jobs- assigning the antsy little boy to swatting flies away from the food on the kitchen table. These days that has turned into asking the kid to fix the computer problem.

This went beyond the family. Once upon a time, each village had a blacksmith and a baker and a cobbler (if anyone even knows what that is anymore). It may not have been advertised, but you knew which women made the best preserves and which men could mend harness like new. Even the weird woman that lived half in the woods had a talent. She was probably the one that you went to when a fever wouldn’t break or a beau wouldn’t propose.

So what does this have to do with homesteading? As much as my independent streak wants me to learn it all and do it all, it’s really not practical. I happen to me mechanically disinclined. When my truck breaks down, I could learn how to fix it. Or I could know someone who is in fact mechanically inclined. If I’m lucky, that person will happen to need some help with their vegetable garden.

Networking is a buzzword that annoys me. Mostly because I’m bad at it. Showing up at a “networking function” to pass out business cards and meet people that might be able to help me in the future just isn’t something I’m good at. However, I’ve been discovering that , it’s noting more than the family and village of yesteryear that could provide what I cannot. In fact, I have started developing a network purely by accident. I’ve offered skills that I have and discovered that others have simply offered theirs in return. Logically speaking, it makes more sense for us to be lifting each other up by our bootstraps rather than ourselves.