I meet strangers all the time, and it seems like the typical ice-breaker question (yawn) is “So, what do you do?”. Now, this person very well could be interested in my line of work, but often I find people using it as a way to define others. I feel like too often we find ourselves defining one another by what we do, rather than who we are. When someone asks me this question I like to start out like this: “Well, I’m a father, a husband, a student, a business owner, a points collector, I also travel and love to experience as many things as possible”, something along the lines of that.
Then they just chuckle a little bit and ask again, “No really, what do you do”. Like that answer wasn’t good enough for them, so they end up searching for an answer that will ultimately satisfy them.
When I tell whoever is asking that I’m a full time DJ, they begin to chuckle a little bit more. “No seriously, I’m a DJ, and I am super fortunate to do what I love and still live here in the Bay Area”.
I know a lot of early retirees get this question too, and I can only imagine how awkward it sounds to people who believe in working well into their 60’s and then retiring. From an early age, American’s are conditioned to believe that working your entire life is the norm, and if you are lucky enough to make it to your 60’s, then you are allowed to retire and enjoy the rest of your life.
Who made these rules up?
I think that if you really love what you do, which a lot of people do, then there is no shame in doing it for as long as you physically, mentally, and emotionally can. I love to DJ, but I know that physically I won’t be able to do it my entire life, at least not mobile gigs.
Why did I get into DJing in the first place?
It wasn’t about the money when I was 14 years old, DJing in my living room for hours every single day just to learn the technique. I truly enjoyed what I was doing. Inspiration came knocking on my door, and 18 years later I am still doing it. Does DJing define who I am as a person though? Is that the response people are looking for when they ask “So, what do you do”? I like to DJ because it makes me happy.
Now, I am fortunate enough to DJ full time at 32 and not have to work a “regular” job. After serving tables for years, my passion is still on the 1’s and 2’s.
What do you want to do when you retire?
A few weeks ago a friend asked me what I wanted to do when I retire, and I actually didn’t have a good answer for him. Of course travel is on the agenda, but what else? Well, I still don’t have a good list of what I want to do when I retire, I would like to eventually bowl a game over 200 at some point.
What I really want to do is break the mold that so many people fall into. Debt is so easy to get into, but really hard to get out of without a plan in action. Too many times I see people complaining about how hard it is out here in the Bay, then post pictures at the shopping mall. Spending money on things we don’t need is a sickness in this country, and these companies are all capitalizing off of those insecurities.
Can you believe iPhone’s are almost $1000 a piece. They have literally caused people to go into debt so they can have the latest and greatest. We fall victim to these advertisements too often and find ourselves neck deep in debt and struggling to survive. Student loan debt is over a trillion dollars! What’s even more alarming is the amount of students not finishing or not pursuing a career in their field of study. Even I am victim to that. In 2003 I took out a loan for $32k for a recording engineering degree. I never became an engineer, but it helped me be a better DJ in other ways. I’m still paying on that loan, and I’m currently in school (again) pursuing another degree.
I don’t want to conform to societies standards that say I can’t retire until I’m 67. The reality is that some of us won’t even make it to 67. If you do end up making it to 67, you will be lucky if you are physically and mentally able to do all of those things you have on your to do list for retirement.
I want to make sure that my daughter is financially savvy, because unfortunately, they don’t teach you much about handling finances in the public education system. I want to make it my job to teach her that experiences and time are far more valuable than any amount of money and material items. Time is the most precious thing we have as humans, and I want to spend as much of that time with the people I love and do the things that make us happy.
Everyone has their own path, and in no way am I trying to convince anyone that this is the right path, it’s just the path that I took. The things that work for us, might not work for everyone. At the end of the day, I want to do what makes me happy, and the more time I get to spend traveling and being with my family will most certainly accomplish that. When I do retire and someone asks me “So, what do you do?”, I look forward to telling them “Whatever I want”. That should make for an interesting conversation.