Carrying On My Life Amid Uncertainty
Since my last journal entry, I've travelled across the US to be with my dear lady. I'm also facing down uncertainties in life as best I may.
Life has ramped up again now that I'm free to do more than just work and study. Every weekend is claimed by calendar events, and even weekdays are being taken by special occasions. With such a packed schedule, chaos ensues.
Looming ahead is the uncertain future. Will my dear lady move in with my husband and I? Will I attend yet another night class? Will I have a job next year? Who knows! Not I, and that's the only certainty I've got.
Travel Began by the Light of the Moon
Spring came, and finally I could visit my dear lady in person.
Despite the excitement, I managed to sleep a few hours before getting up at oh-dark-thirty. The moon overhead guided the way to the airport along a winding freeway.
Thanks in part to my particular neurodivergence, there are times when I feel more alive and aware of the natural beauty of the world. I revelled in the moonlight, and breathed deeply with contentment.
What followed was a full day of travel, which culminated in seeing my dear lady in person for the first time.
In all, we had a good week together. It's one step in the long march of building a strong relationship full of security and support.
One thing I am most proud of is navigating a large journey on my own. I am still so young that I have never truly travelled so far on my own. Though I have had fragmentary experiences of each stage along the way.
I have seen most of the US at one point or another, thanks to my mother's penchant for travelling the world for cheap. Yet never before have I tried to plan my own excursion like this.
However, it's part of growing out and becoming a more capable person.
I've also taken a few car trips on my own to other cities, and pushed my limits on navigating new situations. That includes talking to strangers on the street, which is always a nice way to make someone's day – provided they're respectful and mind my boundaries.
Long Distance Relationships are Tough
Building trust and psychological safety and security are all important points I hoped to develop by visiting my dear lady.
That's because long distance is one of the toughest things I ever do, especially when her preferred form of affection is touch. I wrote about that struggle to make her feel loved in spite of the distance:
We're both wild for choosing to pursue each other in a long-distance relationship. It's always difficult when you can't hold each other, and have to steal snippets of time when you may. Yet we still hope to close the distance, because that would alleviate most of the friction.
It's a matter of surviving the distance for long enough.
In my dearheart's case, we survived his world travels for nearly a year thanks to already having a strong bond. We managed with midnight video calls and daily texts, and so many memories of shared in-person time to comfort us.
With my dear lady, we do not have a bond like that to fall back on. We have to work to build one, all the while long distance makes it harder. Good memories make it easier to weather depression and sadness and distance.
At least thus far, our plans haven't crumbled any. I made it out there to my dear lady for the week, gave her a lot of memories to cling to, and we're aiming to do it again.
Yet the future is always uncertain...
Tomorrow is Never Certain
We could die any day, be scarred for life, or be irreversibly changed. Risk is everywhere – for instance, the most dangerous thing I do is drive. I could be killed in a wreck any day now.
Thus, live for today and don't take tomorrow for granted:
In my experience, we plan constantly. Those plans change, but the planning process is essential.
Even though I live for today, I prepare for a tomorrow I may never see.
It's a difficult balance to strike, though, between over preparing and under preparing. I think looking at my employment is one good example of it.
Much of my current position in life can be attributed to my luck in employment. Yet I am under prepared for losing that line of income: if I was laid off now, it would set back my plans and derail my financial independence – temporarily, I hope.
This is because of how I chase FI: I keep a minimal amount of cash, and instead rely on multiple income streams with debt to cushion out any shocks of expenses. Right now, I stash everything into my financial independence war chest for growing investments:
There are a lot of points in the article above I wish to call to attention, but primarily is that I'm sprinting to financial independence while I'm young and still healthy. To do so, I keep balanced on the razor's edge of cash flow.
Upsets to my cash flow will throw me off balance and may even make me tumble.
Now I'm facing industry news that suggest huge lay-offs are coming to my employer. Everyone around me is saying that I'll be fine, but I don't trust it until I see my job security solidify.
On the flip side, I could have over-prepared for this potential circumstance: I could have stockpiled cash savings to last me years, since I know of a coworker that spent two years job hunting.
Doing so would have cost me a significant amount in gains, however, and set back my FI plans by about a year. Is a year of my time worth that much peace of mind?
I thought not, since I'm young and more risk-tolerant. I want to claim as much of my slim lifespan as possible for myself. Even if it means more stress when things go wrong at work.
Which leads into the obvious point: how do I prepare for a potential lay-off?
Night Classes, a Cross-Country Move, and Lay-Off Uncertainty
I have several big plans for this year which have suddenly been thrust into disarray. From taking my next engineering night class, to moving my dear lady out here to beautiful California, and to writing a novel.
With the writing on the wall about lay-offs, do I continue on with my plans?
If I want to prepare for lay-offs, the rational part of me says "minimise expenses, don't do what you want to do." Yet there's a huge cost to time and life if I do that, and even harm.
Would my dear lady and I last another winter apart? Wouldn't I need my classes to get a better job? Writing is my relief, so would I really be able to give up such a crucial stress valve?
No, I don't think the solution is to cut out what is important in my life.
I'm already ruthless about cutting out what doesn't serve me, and I've already "trimmed the excess" so-to-speak in my expenses – just in the pursuit of financial independence. Any further cuts would hurt me.
Instead, I'm preparing for lay-offs by leaning on my support network. In this case it's mostly relying on my dearheart – my husband. I've asked him if he's ready to return to work, ever since he left his job a couple of years ago.
If he does so, we'll be able to maintain the status quo just fine – long enough for me to find a new job, or to go back to university for engineering.
I'm also working on paying down our margin debts and stockpiling cash for my dear lady's move/walkaway fund. Which is another uncertainty in life: whether we'll last after moving her out here.
I want to spend my lifetime with my dear lady, as do I wish to spend it with my dearheart, and likely many more people. Yet circumstances may change in the future, or problems may arise that seem insurmountable.
That uncertainty is why we keep cash and commitments for walking away.
It feels as though my dear lady and I are on a sand clock, with the grains inexorably falling down. We're trying to live and love as best we may despite the distance, and trying to close that gap before it destroys us.
I'm also juggling several interests, and maintaining a variety of relationships with friends, partners, and family. This is ultimately the lifestyle I want to lead, even if it's stressful and scary and heartbreaking at times.
I often think to myself that if life could just slow down or hold still for a month or so, I could sort everything out. That never happens: there's always something going wrong.
At least this time, I can see the lay-offs coming. I can prepare.
No person is an island. This time, my preparations are based in support, rather than trying to shoulder an impossible burden by myself. There are family, community, and partnerships I can fall back on.
I'm content in the knowledge that I won't be alone when tough times come.