Over the last two years I’ve earned both more than and less than I ever have since I started working when I was 17. This has presented me with both challenges AND a huge reality check.
It’s funny how when you are on a good wicket you don’t exactly realise it. Like, really realise it. But then, what exactly is a ‘good wicket’? You can be well off financially, have some nice material possessions, be able to buy yourself and others nice things, but if you are rat shit tired, unwell, or really stressed, then how worthwhile is it?
Since ‘leaving’ my day job – part by choice, part because I had to – being unemployed, starting my business, facing non-payment by some former clients, and now working part-time and running my business / focussing on my writing, I’ve realised this:
It’s amazing what you learn when you have less. I’m lucky to still have a roof over my head, hot water and electricity, but for periods over the last 9 months I’ve learned to go without, to mostly embrace it, and more specifically, realised what is most important in life.
I haven’t been able to buy new clothes for a while, aside from a couple of $5 pairs of undies and a few $4 tank tops. After finally being able to buy myself nice, good quality clothes, this was a reality check. It forced me to shop daily in my own closet. To wear those clothes I hadn’t worn in a year. To actually wear dresses multiple times. To mix and match clothes in my wardrobe. To buy a cardigan from the Good Samaritans. I’ve even worn my favourite pair of jeans I purchased in London 9 years ago to death. Now that is a tragedy, my friend. I had worn those jeans to the perfect level of comfort, and they made my ass look good 🙁
Yes, there is a but (aside from my butt that looked good in those jeans). Sure I ‘need’ a few things such as a new pair of pj’s for the upcoming winter and new underwear, oh, and then there’s a new skirt for work that isn’t faded from black to ash grey, or tops that aren’t falling down at the seams…but this whole experience has woken me up to that fact that I don’t need an extensive wardrobe and that I wasted a whole lot of money on clothes! To be honest, even with the state of my wardrobe now I’m still not wearing every piece of clothing in my wardrobe and well, if I haven’t worn them by now I probably never will! And so every few weeks I am giving clothes away.
Cooking meals with the food that is already in your cupboard and fridge is a real first world problem. We become so used to being able to pop to the shop for whatever we need to try that new recipe we saw on Masterchef that we forget the basics – to use what we already have including that jar of something that has been sitting at the back of the cupboard for a year or those veggies we buy but continually throw out because they start morphing into something toxic in the fridge drawer. I swear I’ve turned into a frugal shopper now…then again, there is only so many crackers and cheddar cheese you can eat before you start wishing for a free range chicken sourdough baguette with spinach, avocado, vine-ripened tomato, and shaved parmesan.
Hello, white hairs. Gee they have come on with a vengeance. Thank you to all of the people who have advised me that they look like blonde streaks, but seriously, those wiry ‘blonde’ hairs that stick right out of the top of my head…they are not fooling anyone.
To some degree, I have let go of my vanity and embraced the fact I am getting older and will one day have a full head of white hair. I actually don’t have a problem with that thought. Thinking fondly back to my Nan, she had the most beautiful head of long white hair and wore it with style. I’m just not ready to go there yet, so if the white hairs can just slow down that would be AWESOME!
A few months ago my external hard drive containing a lifetime of digital photos, music and work corrupted. I had been going through a process of decluttering – cleaning out my old laptop, removing photos from Facebook, and so on in an attempt to rationalise information. I did not have a backup as this was my backup. To be honest, I don’t care about the work portfolio or the music. It’s the photos that get me. I’ve always loved photos, right from when I was a little girl and could sit for hours flicking through my grandparents photo albums. My nieces, trips around the world, friends, the history of D & I, my pooch, my Nan who is no longer with us…god, I’m crying as I write this. For me, one of the first things I would have grabbed if the house was on fire would have been my albums and my hard drive with the photos on it…
Unfortunately, the techo geeks have advised me that recovery is impossible (although I still cling to a tiny glimmer of hope), and now I am faced with the thought of relying on the memories in my brain that are fading and will continue to fade with age.
[Oh – and please don’t ask me about the cloud. Yes, I could have stored my photos on the cloud, but seriously, who understands the fricken’ cloud?]
We didn’t have a lot growing up. At times, Mum went without so she could feed us kids and the dogs. At times, we even went without gas, electricity, hot water and TV. For us, fast food was a luxury item we could indulge in every few months. Ever since becoming a responsible working adult I made sure to always pay my bills on time, to save, to spoil my family at Christmas, and more since December 2014 I have been reminded that the main stress point in my life, something I have carried with me since childhood, is money, or rather the lack thereof. My perpetual quest for independence was really a way to excuse my personal stubbornness and pride and to protect myself from being vulnerable. Sitting with the uncomfortable feeling of needing to ask a man for money or to support me, to accept handouts, to rely on the kindness of strangers, to take on a part-time job, to toughen up and end relationships with non-paying clients and to demand money, to learn to live without or with what I have, and to say no…well, this has been confronting.
This one has been a hard, living in the most isolated city in the world and all where the public transport system sucks and the price of petrol is equal to extortion. I thought working from home would be awesome, and it mostly has been, but being housebound and not having the freedom to leave the house because I cannot afford to put petrol in the car, well, that blows! At one stage I started to envy those people who work for themselves and can venture to a thing called a cafe to drink coffee and work virtually. Me, I was stuck at home climbing the walls after a good 3 months (I’d already been working from home for a year for the company I formerly worked with you see).
In hindsight, and thinking back to my wake-up call in the form of my 3rd car accident in 1 1/2 years, being grounded is what I needed. I needed to be forced to stay at home, to conserve energy, and to look after myself as number one. I’ve also loved being at home with my doggy – way too much. I have slipped into the homebody role quite easily. I love nothing more than being at home, chilling on the couch, sitting out the back sipping a coffee whilst watching my dog bask in the sun…this has woken me up to the realisation that what I want, and what is good for me is a simple, peaceful life.
As I sit here and write I think of all of those who have so much less than me, and how everything I have written about can be summed up by one phrase – first world problems. Regardless, I am thankful for the lessons I continue to learn.