Bullies made me rich…a quick note on FIRE motivation.

There’s a trans kid in my daughter’s eighth-grade class; a kid who just came out from female to male. Said kid was instantly shunned by the majority of his classmates and started getting bullied by “the jocks.” But my daughter and a few of her friends who call themselves “the weirdos” ganged up and went to the bullies and said, hey, if you keep that up we’re gonna go talk to the teachers about it. So the jocks quit bullying the trans kid and my daughter invited him to sit at their lunch table and now he’s happily one of them.

Easy to empathize. I got bullied in junior high school–both by other kids and by one particular teacher–and it instilled in me me a strong streak of “I’m gonna set everything up so that nobody can ever tell me what to do again.” Which with my finance background naturally led to FI/RE. There were many reasons, of course, but that was a strong one.

But I was terribly mistaken to rely on it for motivation.

I feel compelled to repeat some advice. Since retiring I’ve come to believe that FIRE shouldn’t be a glorified geographical cure. It shouldn’t be motion away from something negative, but towards something positive.

And so: if your FIRE motivation arises mainly from negativity, I encourage you to do some hard thinking about what’s making you discontented/unhappy and to speak with a therapist about it. There’s a good chance you can find happiness in your present circumstances rather than after a hoped-for dramatic life change. Again, you’ll take your problems with you wherever you go.

Wish I’d understood that way back when. Could’ve saved a lot of angst.

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit http://EarlyRetirementDude.com or email EarlyRetirementDude@gmail.com.

8 thoughts

  1. I was a small kid since I went through school almost a year ahead of my class and got bullied a time or two. I considered it one way of learning that life is not fair and that you had to find a way around obstacles other than brute force since their would always be a brute bigger than you. It built in me a desire to include others, to find the person in the corner at a party and to bring them into the conversation. In short it made me a much better person so I’m glad it happened. It also taught me to not take advantage of the weakness in others. Sounds like you daughter has figured that out too. I agree with the idea that financial independence will not make an unhappy person happy. However I have found that it does make happy people even happier, at least in my case.

    1. >I considered it one way of learning that life is not fair

      I like the way you think. Impossible to make life completely fair; totally possible to make it FAIRER.

      > It built in me a desire to include others, to find the person in the corner at a party and to bring them into the conversation.

      Good on ya, mate.

  2. Dude,
    I believe the FIRE enables you to do what the good Lord wills for us which leads to joy. Being free of the World (even though we live in it) to pursue what is our divine mission is my purpose for FIRE.
    In dovetailing with what Steveark wrote, I remember when I was a junior officer and had been let’s say, dealt a very bad hand. As I was lamenting this “bad hand” I’ll never forget what my company commander said to me, “Luis, it’s not the hand you are dealt but the way you play it that matters.” I’ve always remembered this.

    Semper FI

    1. >not the hand you are dealt but the way you play it that matters

      Lot of wisdom in that old saying: detach from your emotions and take control of the situation and use it to your advantage. “This hand sucks. You know what? Good. I can work with this.”

  3. This is a really good point, dude. If you feel negative during pre-FIRE life, there’s a good chance you’ll be unhappy post-FIRE as well. A lot of our happiness comes from mindset, not from our circumstances.

  4. You must be immensely proud of your daughter for the way she stood up to the bullies and also for befriending the kid who is transitioning. Let her know that she has made a tremendously positive influence not only on that kid but on everyone who sees or hears about that. Simply wonderful.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment.

      >You must be immensely proud of your daughter

      I can’t even tell you. And her whole gang of “weirdos,” too.

      >everyone who sees or hears about that

      Including, I hope, his parents. Tough times for them in this bible-belt city we live in, I’m sure.

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