Recent life circumstances have lead to me start focusing on a concept of less.
I moved from taking up space in an entire house, to downsizing to a single bedroom.
I’ve been working on eating clean, as I’m trying to focus on all aspects of health as well as not needing as much food as I normally consume.
I don’t have stable work during the Summer months and almost all of my prospective work projects this year fell through, leaving me with a few thousand dollars less than I expected to have.
I have time for what feels like the first time in my adult life– and at first that lead to going shopping and eating out, but my depleted bank account forced me to stop that as quickly as it started.
I am more broke than I have been in years. I’m not fresh out of college anymore, and I have no choice but to pay what feels like an unconquerable mountain of bills. Auto insurance, health insurance, phone bills, student loans and car payments are just not things you think about when you’re 22 or 23. When you’re that age, you’re focusing on how you’re going to conquer the world, and where your next burrito is coming from, not how to pay boring bills. But now I am drowning in my debt that I didn’t fully realize I had until the last six months or so.
At first I categorized this poverty as extreme failure. I am 27 years old, have had relatively full time work for about two years, and just cannot get my s*** together. I sold a ton of books and electronics out of desperation. I beat myself up emotionally, outrageously embarrassed over this new concept of rationing food and properly planning my driving routes so as not to waste a single drop of gasoline. (Many tears were shed. The Sad Dragon was in full force, plus I was unable to give into my ravenous Starbucks habit, which only gave me more reason to cry.)
But then, a new thought came to mind. Maybe this is an opportunity. Maybe this is just a new lesson I very much needed to learn. Maybe this is my gateway to truly learn how to live with less because I literally have no other choice.
And then I had a thought—-speaking of finances– that there is a BIG FAT LIE we choose to believe when things are rough:
THE LIE: “I deserve it.”
And the lie has two ugly faces. Let me explain.
The First Side “The Go-Getter”: When we’re sad, angry, or frustrated, we often feel like we need to do something to make the uncomfortable pain go away. So we buy stuff. We max out our credit cards on clothes, electronics, make-up, furniture, or toys. We go out for a fancy dinner and have way too many glasses of wine because “Whatever, I deserve it.” Sometimes our friends buy into this lie when they’re trying to help. They take us out and tell us to go flirt with some guy at a club after a bad break up because “You’ve been hurt, you deserve it.” We binge and gorge a bunch of desserts after a super long and stressful day at work and claim “I work hard, I deserve it.” We flop around and complain, do destructive things that are really just a reflection of self-deprecation that we’re choosing not to deal with.
The Second Side “The Guilty Catholic”: This side is more obviously self-deprecating. This is the karma/ Old-Testament-God’s-wrath attitude we get when things go wrong. We accept that bad things are happening to us because we’re obviously awful people. We accept our failure as a result of our obvious crappiness and then go into a massively depressed shame spiral. We think we’re worthless. We get depressed. Often times we become numb and can’t get anything done at all because we can’t think of anything other than how much we suck.
When I first started dealing with this super-broke-super-scary time in my life, I definitely started out as The Go-Getter. I spent money, made a lot of rash choices, believing that I deserved it because I “spent so much time being well-behaved.” I also had just enough people telling me it was time for me to believe that I deserved to go and claim stuff and destructive experiences. I believed the lie. Thus I gave in to excess and stupidity. Then, more recently, as I started to clean up my mess and try to be more responsible, I became The Guilty Catholic. I became increasingly sad as I accepted that I deserved to have my Summer work projects to fall through. I deserved to be broke. I deserved to feel destitute and useless. I deserved to be a Grade-A Disappointment wrapped up in a young woman package.
It’s easy to believe this lie. But now that I’ve gained a little more courage and a few good nights of sleep I realized
I DONT DESERVE ANYTHING
The Universe doesn’t owe me anything, whether that be good or bad. Stuff is going to happen. And then I get to make choices. Maybe it’s really as simple as that.
I can choose to accept that my worth is not based on my bank account.
I can choose to slow down so I can learn to be more smart with my money.
I can choose to find joy in wholesome produce and going outside so I can stay healthy.
I can choose to get rest, and schedule days where I don’t have to rush, or work, or schedule, or make spreadsheets.
I don’t deserve to live on less— I can choose to live on less and LOVE it.
Maybe I can choose to make French press coffee at home, rather than sitting in a Starbucks drive-thru every morning.
Maybe I can choose to have a really nice bottle of wine once a month, rather than going out to drink a few times a week.
Maybe I can choose to go for long runs on the beach and feel like a beautiful badass, rather than purchasing massages, expensive make up and hair appointments in attempts to feel pretty.
Maybe I can choose to stay home to read a novel rather than go shopping out of a need to be “doing something.”
Maybe I can cultivate the relationships that I truly love and value, rather than going out constantly with friends, trying to impress everyone I know.
Maybe living on less isn’t actually having less.
Until next time, Dragon Slayers!