I was always fascinated by the nature versus nurture discussion.
There must be something innate, within our DNA, about our individual structures that compel us to do certain things. We travel certain paths. We make our individual decisions/choices.
Likewise, our experiences must also shape us in some way, giving us some measure of perspective that then naturally impacts current and future decisions.
What percentage of each one accounts for who we are is certainly up for debate, although I’m in the camp that believes that nature makes up the larger portion of the two. (If I had to put a number on it, I’d say 80% nature.)
My Nature Versus Nurture
I’ve discussed my own “nurture” quite a bit.
It’s not been pretty.
I grew up extremely poor. My classmates and neighbors in Detroit mostly hated me and routinely screamed racial epithets at me. I had very little parenting throughout my formative years. I was adopted at 11. My dad was a drug dealer. My mother was a drug addict who committed suicide when I was 21.
If nurture were what impacted me more than nature, I wouldn’t be in very good shape right now.
However, even at a young age, I was enticed by the idea of early retirement. Nobody gave me information on this. Nobody ever sat me down and talked about money. But I still always had this idea in the back of my mind.
I remember having to wake up early for school – when I did end up going to school – and thinking to myself how awesome it would be to be able to wake up whenever I want. I hated waking up to an alarm clock. I hated waking up early. The whole thing bothered me ever since I could remember. And I just knew there had to be a way to avoid that whole thing.
It dawned on me at some point that the best way to accomplish this would be to somehow not have to work for a living. I’d obviously have to be my own boss and/or develop passive income in order for this to happen.
Well, I now count on waking up without an alarm clock as one of my favorite things about this lifestyle.
There would sometimes be these real estate infomercials that would come on the TV when I’d stay up too late in my high school years. While I never had the desire to manage a real estate empire, I just knew that I had to somehow put myself in a like position where my income would be generated passively, or at least without the need to have a job I strongly disliked.
See, I can’t think of any job in this world that I’d like doing for 40-50 hours per week… 48-50 weeks per year… 40 years of my life. I mean, I like eating pizza. But if I had to fill a quota of pizza eaten and/or sold, deal with pizza drama, and attend meetings on pizza for most of my waking hours over the course of decades of my life, I’d get tired of pizza real fast. Papa John seems like a nice guy, but I don’t want him (or any other boss) lording over me.
I was born an introvert. A natural INTJ. I’m a homebody. Has nothing to do with my nurture, as getting out of the house when I was young was preferred – it was just such a terrible place to be. I used to ride my bike for hours on end, getting as far away from home as I possibly could. (Meanwhile, my sister, who grew up the same way I did, is an extreme extrovert. Go figure.)
But all I’ve ever wanted is a small place of my own where I could spend most of my time reading, writing, and doing whatever I want.
As soon as I could start working, I did. I was 14 years old when I first got a job. I was independent. Nobody paid for anything for me, so I had to go out and make my own money. It’s indeed that independent streak that later inspired me to become financially independent.
Of course, some of that independent streak could be due to nurture, as I also had to be quite independent in my early years. I had to cut grass, shovel snow, and do whatever else I could to make money so that I could eat.
But once I did start landing jobs in my teens and 20s, I realized that jobbing sucks. While I later learned that working is great (especially when it’s on my terms), jobbing – going somewhere simply to exchange time for money – is such a bummer.
Is It Meant To Be?
I wonder if financial independence is almost meant to be for a certain percentage of the population.
I never really fit in. I never wanted a “traditional” or “typical” life.
A house isn’t on my wish list. I don’t particularly desire to have children. Career markers like tenure and vacation mean nothing to me – why aim to have three weeks of vacation when you could have 52 weeks of vacation?!
As an introvert and INTJ personality type, workplace drama and catering to clients was always tough on me. I like quiet spaces like the local coffee shop, where I can listen to music and let my imagination run wild. However, it’s not like I can go down to the local “Imagination Factory” and apply for a job that’ll pay me good money to sit back and craft my ideas.
Moreover, I’ve never really wanted the material possessions that others craved. Frugality and seeking a good value comes pretty naturally to me. Now, growing up poor gave me a lot of perspective. But a lot of other people who grow up poor end up desiring material possessions even more, as if they’re making up for their slow/poor start. Shopping for traditional goods doesn’t do anything for me, as I much prefer shopping for high-quality dividend growth stocks. None of this is a stretch for me. None of this is difficult. I find that this lifestyle comes naturally.
And so I believe that financial freedom was somewhat of an inevitability for me. It’s almost like I was built for it. I’d dare say it was destiny.
Much of the initial hard work is just figuring out the money, which is probably, in retrospect, the easiest part of the whole journey. Once the money is locked down, most of one’s time and energy will likely then be focused on figuring out how to be a happier and more fulfilled person.
Since I couldn’t find a “job” that ever really fit me, I decided to set out to create “work” that improved my world and the world around me. There was something inside of me that intrinsically motivated me to make this happen.
Indeed, my last name is Fieber. In our community, FIRE = Financial Independence/Retire Early. If you rearrange the letters in my last name, you get: BE FIRE. So my last name translates to: be financially independent and retire early.
Becoming financially independent and/or retiring early is right in my name!
I was on a podcast a while back with a good friend of mine. And we were talking about introverts versus extroverts, noting how it’s probably easier in general for introverts to reach financial independence.
However, I’d take it a step further and say that some people are just built for this lifestyle. Some of us are essentially born to be this way. And that’s kind of a competitive advantage that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
I’ve written before about how I was already financially independent well before I actually hit the crossover point for passive income/expenses, as I envisioned this future me living the lifestyle. It was a foregone conclusion for me because I just knew I was going to make it happen. I lived and breathed will.
But I’d also say that it might have been a foregone conclusion for me because it was the only way I could imagine living my life.
I never wanted what a lot of others want. None of the big material possessions ever did anything for me. I thought that kind of lifestyle would make me happy, because it seemed to make others happy, and so I chased after the typical stuff/life throughout high school and my early 20s. But I realized soon enough that I don’t find value in most of the stuff that everyone else is so busy desiring.
And so the moment I started to deeply delve into this lifestyle, it was like everything fell into place. It was almost like a spiritual awakening for me. When I first found the concept of financial independence, and quickly figured out how to get from Point A to Point B, it seemed to me like it was this lifestyle that was out there just waiting for me to find it.
It quite literally had my name on it!
What do you think? Are some of us built to be financially independent? Is it easier for some of us, based on our nature, to be interested in financial independence and achieve early retirement?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.