Here’s the thing. They say the secret to happiness is to want what you have. OK. I think it makes sense to live within one’s means, to avoid the consumer madness that has taken over regular looking people, turning them into aliens with 100 pairs of shoes and matching bags, a spare room for electronics, and an addiction to $8 lattes. But how do you get there? What’s enough? If your car is 12 years old and your house is painted 3 different colors and the metal underwire in all your bras is coming out causing abrasions and your last vacation was to the Wrentham Outlet Mall to buy your kids school clothes and your dog’s toenails are so long they curl around several times, do you stop and think, if only.
Or do you smack yourself and say at least you have a job, house, dog, family, car, bra, and control of your bladder (most times)?
Do you follow Suze Orman fanatically and never go for Chinese food in the middle of the week when you’re too exhausted/late/lazy to cook so you can put the $45 in your IRA? Or do you splurge a little here and scrimp a little there and wind up living in a 3-colored house for a few years? Do you do extreme couponing? (I swear, it’s a real thing.) Do you start an on-line business selling your grandmother’s recipe for Jell-O salad? Do you have a career? A five-year plan? A real job that makes you work to advance yourself and earn more responsibility and money every year? (That last one’s a killer!)
I don’t know how, but if I had it to do again I think I would have done it differently. If I believed in myself more when I was younger I might have taken more risks. I might have actually called myself a writer and figured out how to make a life’s work of it. Maybe teaching, freelance, Hallmark cards, sponging off friends.
So now, instead of writing I have all these other worries and things I really have to take care of like property tax and getting my kids through college and working until I’m at least 70 in order to collect social security. And do you know what I’m doing about it?