My pocket is jingling with every step. I hope they can’t hear that is my only thought as I approach the counter. Coffee is my vice, and it has been since college. Spending almost three dollars on a cup of gourmet coffee may sound absurd to some, but for me, it’s not just coffee. The steamy, hot beverage does magic when I hold it tightly between my hands. In that moment, my location and income lose their power because I could enjoy this luxury any time… even if the rest of it went to hell.
“That’ll be $2.71.”
Thank god I remembered sales tax I thought as I pulled the coins from my pocket and quickly made the exchange. “I love when I find quarters under my car seat,” I joked to prevent any further contemplation on her part. She didn’t have to know this was all I had until next week.
I found my seat in the packed coffee shop, after all, this was the most popular spot on the north side of town. It was filled with businessmen, entrepreneurs, students, and doctors on break. Who knew one could feel so comfortable while being so out of place?
We were on track for that life, from the prestigious university degrees and post graduate education, to the professional track record of jobs and internships. My husband and I were supposed to be financially and professionally set by now, but we had other plans. We had other priorities.
Our priorities involve enjoying a cup of coffee on any day of the week from anywhere in the world.
When you’re young, the old tell you to travel. “Do it while you can because when you have the money, you won’t have the time.” I despised this problem. Who wants to work their whole life to enjoy wealth from a single location? Who wants to work hard only to have to work some more when they’d rather be touring Europe for a month or two? This was my single greatest problem with the corporate world. Not only is one told where to work from (not a coffee shop with wifi somewhere in France), but they’re told when exactly that work needs to be done.
For example: I took the photo below on a two day trip we took to Lake Travis just because (special thanks to our friends who let us take their trip). We brought our computers and did all of our work in between Lake activities.
An individual will give up so much freedom from day to day for financial security. How secure can one ever be financially anyway? And even if that promise is kept for fifty years, where did that time go? What were you able to experience during those years for the sake of being financially secure? Wealth can be gained for years and lost in an instant, so if we put wealth aside, what really mattered the most to us?
Contentment became our first priority with availability coming in second.
Contentment came first because joy can’t be contingent on a situation, and then availability because people and experiences should always matter more than work.
When we started our life together, we decided to create jobs for ourselves that allowed us to be available to travel, to people, and to various other experiences. This entrepreneurship journey has been the most difficult thing about our marriage (that I’m willing to admit here at least). In the last year and a half, we’ve started a couple of businesses that have failed, and we’re working on a couple more that might too, but we believe that the temporary financial instability is worth the long term lifestyle benefits that we would have.
No, we don’t have “real” jobs. We have businesses that we are working on countless hours a day that may not exist in six months… while we hold day jobs to pay the bills.
We’re also not millennials looking for another way to rebel against our parent’s society. We’re not afraid of hard work, a generalization our generation hears often. We’re actually looking hard work right in the eye… with our iPhones on silent. If my phone is in my face in public, I’m probably emailing a client or reading an article about my profession… and then posting an artsy photo on Instagram. Social Media for the sake of social media is quickly becoming uncool among millennials anyways, an ironic twist considering the number of Baby Boomers blowing up my Facebook News Feed on an hourly basis.
So here we are, working from coffee shops we don’t belong in, paying with leftover quarters, and constantly battling the question: is this ever going to “work”? That’s probably another reason why I enjoy holding a cup of gourmet coffee in my hands during the workday- I realize I’ll still be holding it in twenty years whether our businesses fail or succeed.