Taylor Swift singing in cabins in the forest. The rise of /r/cottagecore and /r/simpleliving on Reddit. Secretly fantasising about being one of the kids learning to survive in the woods in Captain Fantastic.
When women have more freedom than ever, what’s with the trend of wanting to leave the office and vanish into the woods forever to grow squashes, bake pies, and raise a few goats?
Here’s one perspective. (And I realise it’s not exclusive to women).
The world is moving at what feels like a hundred miles an hour – at least the world that you probably grew up aspiring for if you’re online reading this.
Corporate culture. Stellar performance reviews. A good house. A nice car. Friends in high places. Opportunities and movement and growth and potential. Keeping your life looking good on social media.
But many people are realising that these things aren’t what they wanted at all.
The things we have the least of are, in many cases, the most important things of all. Time for ourselves and people we love. Time to explore. Time to do nothing. Freedom to figure out who we are and what we want – and then actually do that.
The women who came before and helped us to vote and work and enjoy more equality should be placed on a pedestal and thanked for the freedom they gave women now.
But that’s what it comes down to – the freedom to choose.
A dedicated suffragette’s work doesn’t mean I have to burn myself to the ground working at Goldman Sachs and want to jump in the fountain in their London Victoria office.
And still now, there’s not enough equality in the workplace. That’s exhausting in itself. Underrepresentation of groups at work also isn’t a good enough reason to stay in a place that isn’t for you and try and be the one to change the statistics.
Do I dream of being in the mountains? Yes – I spent some of my most memorable years in the Swiss Alps. Would I love to have a farm? Hmm. I grew up on a sheep farm and know the unglamorous reality of farming – and I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a kid. So maybe just enough vegetables for a household – with a bit more to share.
My own definition of living well is having time to write, think, make things, and be in nature. No, I don’t want to be a stay-at-home trad-wife. (Ok, I am a wife, and I do stay at home a lot – but that’s not my main goal here).
I can’t speak for everyone, but I do think that for many of us with a dream of dropping it all, the farm or the cabin isn’t the real object of desire.
Rather, it’s the allure of more time, freedom, and simplicity. Also, a whisper that consumerism isn’t really what drives a good life – nor pressure, packed schedules, and questionable priorities in an era of bullshit jobs.
You don’t have to move to the middle of nowhere to listen to those whispers and live a life that’s truly your own.
But the real question to answer is this: what is it you really want?
What’s the life you want to look back on?
What are the guiding lights you want illuminating your path forwards – slowness, creativity, sustainability, nature, family, nurturing others, freedom, diversity, stability, or something else?
And what does that mean you need to step away from and step towards?
What does that mean you should start changing now, starting with small things that compound to become big things?
There’s more in your control than you think. What can you adjust now to reflect the life you dream of living, starting with how you spend your time, what you honour with your focus, and your boundaries?
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