Societal judgement on not working

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K and I just spent the month of October traveling. We ate way too much in Asia, visited friends and family, and helped my parents run lots of errands. We then went to the east coast to attend my high school friend’s wedding. Well, this post isn’t really about traveling, I wanted to write about reactions from people over the last year (and last month) about us taking time off.

Warning, below is a largely unorganized rant. Feel free to skip.

Background: I left my job last year, I was burnt out and wanted to live off savings for a while to travel and explore hobbies. I have been very fortunate that I can allow myself the opportunity, I also saved like crazy, but no one really wants to hear about being frugal (or how I use credit card points, airline miles to minimize cost).

The judgement from people when I say I’m taking time off is a bit disheartening. The underlying theme seems to be — I’m not doing anything with my life because I’m not working or having babies.  The conversation usually goes, cyn: “I’m enjoying what I am doing, exploring and picking up new hobbies”. The response is often times: “When are you going to go back to work? You have to do something with your life! Aren’t you bored?” or “Are you taking time off to have kids?” I also wonder if women have it worse than men in this regard. A man taking time off is perhaps brave?

I’ve been thinking about this “doing something with your life” thing — since when is working, or having children the only two ways to be doing something with your life!?!  Is it really *wrong* to want to pursue my own goals and desires (if it doesn’t line up with job or children)? How does having a job equate to “your life is now meaningful”?  Not to offend anyone, I can definitely name some jobs that I think negatively contributes to society.

Even worse are the people who just throw insults my way: “Oh you probably have gotten so stupid you can’t get a job anyways.” Seriously, WTF?  I could say I don’t care about the judgement, but it’s not true, and it’s exhausting at times. The guilt people can lay on is a bit much sometimes, especially when you hear it over and over again. I also hear a lot of things along the lines of I must be “lazy”. Ugh. This one really gets me.

Some friends I bring this up to will brush it off with, “Oh, they are just jealous”. I’m not really sure if that is it, is there really that much uniformity in jealously that I keep on hearing the same things over and over again? It’s a bit scary if that is so.

I chose to step off the treadmill for a while. I don’t need a house for now, or a better car, or whatever fancy thing I’m supposed to covet. I just want my freedom to pursue things I’ve wanted to do. I find it odd that this seems to invite so much criticism from so many.