I normally interview people that have already left the hamster wheel but this time around I wanted to interview a young lady that I met in Jon Acuff’s “30 Days of Hustle” group who has made the decision to never enter the hamster wheel in the first place. I was so intrigued by her determination to avoid the traditional path that I wanted you to hear her story.
Megan Starbuck, who blogs at Tiny House, Big Dreams writes about her journey as she is saving up money to buy a tiny house. As you may remember I interviewed B.A. Norrgard a while back who is a paralegal turned minimalist that sold her house and built a tiny house.
Moving into a tiny house is a trend that is on the upswing but what made Megan decide to skip the normal path on getting there? Well, let’s find out.
Q: What one thing or event made you decide to NOT get into the rat race and get stuck in the wheel? If no such particular event, how did the decision evolve?
A: Adults kept telling me to enjoy my time in school because it would be the best time of my life. No bills, no job taking up all of my time. I did enjoy those years, but what their advice really did for me was make me decide I would not be that way after graduating. I did not want to become a boring, dissatisfied adult. I have definitely struggled with this, but I’m glad I can recognize when it creeps in and put an end to it.
As you alluded to, many things led to the way it has come into play in my life. I read a book called A Chance at Childhood Again for one. Part of leaving the hamster wheel has to do with holding onto the positive attributes in being childlike. Yes, I’ve had to grow up in many ways. I’ve gained responsibility and freedom with that, and it compliments my adventurous and fun side rather than dismissing it.
Q: What is your #1 advice for people that don’t know where to start but would like to do what you are doing?
A: Be grateful. It will keep you from always wishing for more or feeling deprived. Those feelings are what make me feel like I’m nearing the hamster wheel lifestyle.
While working in a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled youth, we were backpacking in snow and rain sometimes. Part of the program was for everyone to say 2 or 3 things we are grateful for before each meal. We only had a couple pairs of clothes, one cup and spoon, a journal, etc. It was great seeing what we are grateful for when we aren’t distracted by the internet. We really paid attention to each other. I miss it so much! I recommend a similar getaway (or electronic-free day to remind you who you are without all of that), but that could just be because I love being outdoors. Not sure it’s for everyone, but being grateful definitely is.
Q: Do you follow other blogs or websites that are doing what you are doing? If so, any you would recommend?
A: I enjoy Tiny House Listings (about tiny houses for rent or for sale) & Tiny House Newsletter (which shares stories of people building or living in a tiny house) because I get the emails about all these different tiny houses which give me more ideas before I get started.
I also attended one of Deek’s workshops. He runs RelaxShacks.com. He’s super creative and does lots of fun repurposing projects. You can watch his YouTube videos to see what I mean. I also attended one by Dan Louche. These workshops are really helpful! And you meet amazing people. For instance, Matt & Laura of Life in 120 Square Feet who live off the grid in Asheville, even carrying buckets of water to their house from a stream…similar to what we did in the wilderness program.
Q: You just got out of debt which is the first step towards living your dream. What’s next for financing your dream and how do you plan to get there?
A: I’m trying to balance making more money to afford those dreams with being content with less. This TED Talk sums up where I’m at as far as wanting to get rid of possessions so that I can have experiences instead. I used to tune out when people said this. It’s so not me. I can have both, I would tell myself. I often feel like a hoarder especially of items given to me or things I got after my grandparents died. While I have been able to keep my possessions and still do amazing things, it’s becoming more of a hassle. My goal is to get down to only what will fit in my car. I’m currently trying to get rid of 10 things a day. It’s so refreshing even though I haven’t done it perfectly. I’m planning to blog about it soon because it’s so simple yet life-changing. It works better than going through box by box, at least for me.
Q: Do you meet a lot of other people doing what you are doing or do you feel as if you’re still breaking new ground among your generation? Do young people your age think what you are doing is cool or do they think you should go party with them and not worry about the future?
A: I get so many links posted to my facebook page by friends that I didn’t even realize knew I was trying to do this tiny house thing! People are surprisingly supportive, even people I’ve known all my life. My family has also been really helpful including extended family. Some people have questioned it more as a warning to make sure I know what I’m getting into, but even they are really intrigued. It’s fun connecting with all sorts of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. In college, my friends and I actually joked about living in a shack together. At first it seemed like I was the only one wanting to be like Thoreau. I’ve actually been reading Walden for the first time and find it to be even better than I expected.
Q: I know at your age is probably hard to think of this but how would you want your eulogy to be read? And so far do you feel that you are living your life in a way that fits that?
A: She was a joy and encouragement who left beauty and love wherever she traveled.
People have told me things similar to this, but it’s something you can always get better at & is to be continued throughout life not just for a part of it. It was inspired by the children’s book Miss Rumphius which is how I want to live my life. 🙂 Mission trips, writing letters, even being a nanny, and a slow-paced (at least sometimes), creative life seem to fit that hope. It’s about making time and memories for other people and not just myself. And if I’m not content, I won’t have that joy to share because I’ll be too stressed and focused on what I want. “Even with you gone, love lives on.” -Mallory Hope
I hope you enjoyed reading the answers as much as I did. Megan is a super inspiring, happy person that brings joy wherever she goes. Go check out her blog Tiny House, Big Dreams for more inspiration.
If you know of someone, including yourself that you feel is a good fit for my interview series let me know. I may change the questions or the format at some point (always up for suggestions) but the goal of bringing you stories of real people that are pursuing and living their dream will stay the same.
Isn’t Megan inspiring? I would love if you left her an encouraging comment below.