I have a confession to make: I don’t have a full-time job. *gasp* Oh, the horror! Don’t worry. You’re not the first to slap their hands to their cheeks and gaze at me with your jaw on the floor. We clearly have a problem with judgment in this society. I work two part-time jobs and own a small business, but since I’m not part of the 9-5/5 days a week crowd, I am deemed as less-than. It doesn’t matter that I pay my bills and live simply. If I don’t need it, I do without. If it breaks, I mend it. I make things last as long as possible. I try to make as much from scratch as I can. I grow some of my own food and preserve it.
None of that matters, though. I clearly don’t contribute to society in any meaningful way because I’m not tied to a desk or some other part of Corporate America. You see, several years ago I bought into the idea that the only way to get ahead in life was to go to college and work my tail off for someone else. Now, three useless degrees later I am underemployed with student loan debt equal to what’s left on our mortgage. It both sickens me and frustrates me.
As a child, I loved the country. I had always hoped to one day move to the Wisconsin countryside where my grandparents were from. I always wanted to be able to sit on my front porch and watch a storm roll in across the field. I remember the one time we went underneath the cabin my grandparents owned. I remember seeing all kinds of Mason jars with food stored in them from decades earlier. It was absolutely incredible. No one in my family shared my enthusiasm. They still don’t and it hurts.
It is difficult to exist in a world where you feel like such an outcast. It is difficult to handle being looked upon as having something wrong with you because you are drawn to a lifestyle that is different from the currently accepted norm. We seem to forget that there was a time when my lifestyle WAS the norm.
I sometimes hear that I am not really dedicated to my lifestyle because I have a computer and a cellphone. “Real homesteaders” wouldn’t have those things. They wouldn’t have indoor plumbing, either. They’d live like cavemen and drag their knuckles on the ground.
Why does society dislike us so much? What is so wrong with us? There is nothing wrong with us. The people who look down on us feel threatened by us for some reason but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps we make them look at themselves and they don’t always like what they see so they try to put the blame on us.
“I could never live like that. I like to have nice things.” That implies we a) don’t have nice things and b) only like crap. Quite the contrary! We like nice things so much that WE MAKE THEM/GROW THEM/COOK THEM/BAKE THEM.
“I don’t like being poor.” Neither do we and we aren’t. We are quite rich, actually. We are rich in time with our families. We are rich in our connections with our food and where it comes from. We are rich in sustainable skills. We can do what a significant portion of the world cannot or will not. We don’t require vacations from our lives because we make a life worth loving and living every day. Do we struggle? Sometimes. Is it worth the struggle? I think so or I wouldn’t keep doing it or want to do more.
We are not asking you to live like we do. This lifestyle requires a thick skin and determination. It certainly isn’t for everyone. I firmly believe it is something you are called to do. It is a longing that is always there and has always been. It is akin to the call to Witchcraft. It is something that comes from within. There is no other way to explain it. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some compost that needs to be turned.