I honestly cannot remember when I’ve made the decision to quit my job. It was a process, of course, and one that went on for some time. Like everyone else I weighted my options. I wanted to know for sure what the future would bring. How would I live? Where would my income come from? What would all this mean for me as a person? For my family? I saw myself completely broke, going insane, my family leaving me, my life in ruins, and I forever regretting my decision to quit what looked like a steady job and a secure life. I tried to control my exit strategy from one job by lining up another job, somewhere else, where the hamster wheel was prettier, yellow and pink perhaps, with bars spread further apart, only to realize I was once again shaping my life within the same mold.
It wasn’t until I realized that my so-called secure life is not much more, or may even be less, secure than the life I could build with a new mold, or without any mold at all that I was finally able to stop holding onto my old mold so desperately. My grip loosened last October and by June 2012 I was officially holding onto my old mold no more. I got up and went on with Life. My husband, my son of four and a half years, and I headed into an adventure called Life off the Hamster Wheel.
We had no idea what this meant, nor are we much smarter now, a few months into it, but it was a start and a mighty one too. Some acquaintances and friends were in awe of us, telling us how much they wished they could do the same. Others thought us completely insane. Both groups helped us start our journey. The first through their affirmation of their own struggles on the Hamster Wheel, the second by reminding us that all of our best, tough decisions in life have been judged insane by most people.
In 1999, my husband and I moved from Croatia, where we were born and raised, to Alaska, USA. We did this predominantly because we could see no future for ourselves in Croatia, but also because we loved the TV series Northern Exposure (which was ironically filmed in the Washington state, but conveyed the essence of Alaska quite well). Most of our friends and acquaintances at the time thought we were mad. We fell in love with Alaska and made it our home for ten years, with minor detours to Oregon, USA and back. From Alaska we moved to the West Coast of Scotland and spend three fascinating years there. Back in Croatia after many years, we are now renting a house on one of the islands, warranting the title of “Completely Lost Their Mind” by most Croatians (and at least one Frenchman).
I have now been off the Hamster Wheel for four months. After a glorious summer and being high on the newly found freedom, I feel it is a good time to stop and ponder all that’s been going on.