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1. How have you felt this pressure? (e.g. What has the cost of living deliberately been for you?)

I know I make people uneasy because I don't fit in most boxes. At work and play my coworkers and friends constantly poke at me with sticks, trying to figure me out. A recent conversation of a coworker's questions and my answers about finances concluded something like:

"You're pretty simple, aren't you?"
"Yes, I suppose."
"Yes, you're pretty simple."
"Well, I'm not very materialistic."
"What, and I am?"

This was the first time she'd brought herself into that conversation, though I should have expected her questions were more about her own lifestyle than mine. Since then I've heard her tell people how I think she's materialistic. It's kind of funny in a way, being accused of being judgmental. Having been through this many times with many individuals, I begin to wonder if those of us living outside of the established norm make people uncomfortable not because of what we're doing, but because of what they are not doing. I think it is likely that some people don't want to examine their own lifestlye because to do so honestly might require a change on their part.

I've delt with the disapproval of family members and otherwise close friends because I want to write for a living, because I have no interest replacing a car (though financing is well within my means), because I gave up alcohol at age 14 and won't even (gasp) drink at parties, because I'm not having a Catholic wedding (neither of us are Catholic), because I'm both a practicing Christian and practicing liberal activist, because I'm introverted, because I've managed to make it to 24 without having sex (with less than a year left until marriage!) and because I'm willing to forgive when apparently I shouldn't be allowed to. I realize my life can seem in direct conflict with others, and, though I rarely open my mouth to argue, I'm constantly seen as a threat.

I've lost friendships when others discovered my beliefs, I've made stands that were unpopular and I discover after years of knowing someone that they speak of me distastefully behind my back. And, when I forgive them and try to mend the problem, I'm seen even more as a lunatic.

I've "suffered" through minor mood swings all my life as well, which I feel is related to my creativity. This could also be a contribution to a lifetime of insomnia, though sleep clinics and doctors haven't helped me figure that out yet.

You know--the usual artist "Nobody understands me" crap minus drugs and alcohol.

2. How have you dealt with it?

Prayer, growth, and constant attention to my actions. I don't intentionally censor myself, but I do try to make sure things that make me angry don't push me (against my will) out of my natural introversion. It keeps me from getting in non-crucial arguments.

I also write, which is both cathartic and fulfilling. Most of my constructive avocations don't require company, thank goodness.

Most importantly I have had for almost seven years a loving friend who became my girlfriend who became my fiance--who, while not having an artistic mind, has a very understanding mind, compatible goals, and her own ideals and decisions I feel called to support.

3. Has it been worth it?

Does it matter?

I can't speak for anyone else living in a different kind of deliberate fashion, but I do know that I, as an artist, can't live--and can't imagine life--back in the pidgeonhole. Whether or not I reach my goal, my choice to pursue my calling/dream/lifestyle is less something admirable and glamorous as it is an alternative to a tedious, painful existence of complacency and monotony--what it would be to me, not necessarily to others.

I live deliberately (as it is called here) because the alternative would cost me the most. By living deliberately, any and all suffering or inconvenience is little more than fodder for future artistic works.

Alex.
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