I’m in the last semester of my undergrad program. I’ve completed five years of military service, traveled to different countries, and recently started pursuing a freelance writing career. So why do I still feel I’m not doing enough in my life most of the time? Every day I’m bombarded with thoughts of not having enough money saved, not being further in my career, not working enough on a side hustle, blah, blah, blah.
I have friends who echo my thoughts of feeling like their life accomplishments aren’t good enough. This way of thinking is counterproductive, and physically and mentally draining. I think it’s time we shift the conversation to acknowledge the great things we are doing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed at how “behind” you are in life, focus instead on ways that you’re winning. Here are a few simple triumphs to be proud of.
Following Your Passion
My love for writing has been a part of me since I was a toddler. My mother used to write, and I liked to imitate what she was doing and started scribbling with my own pen and pad. By my teenage years, I was writing my own short stories and even started a novel. Moving into adulthood, life happened, and I focused on getting any job to make ends meet, but my passion never left. I started my personal finance blog several months ago, and during a conversation with my mentor, she congratulated me on my accomplishment.
“Most people just talk about their dreams,” she said. “You actually made yours come true.”
I never thought of it that way, but she made a good point. We often think that pursuing a passion can only be recognized if we’re making millions off of it. Taking the step to make it come to life in any aspect is admirable.
Paying Bills On Time
When you have OCD about handling business like yours truly, taking care of responsibilities becomes second nature. If you pause for a second, you’ll realize just what a rare breed you are. Some people don’t have the desire to pay bills when they can spend that money in more gratifying ways. I’m not telling you to throw shade at those who legitimately don’t have enough to cover the basics. Just be sure to give yourself kudos for having discipline to adult, even when you don’t want to.
Saving Any Amount of Money
Another adult-y thing that’s surprisingly at the bottom of the priority list for many. I was shocked to find that nearly half of Americans don’t have $400 saved for an emergency. And here I am beating myself up because I don’t have a $10k nest egg. Again, you don’t want to use comparisons as a self-esteem booster but making saving non-negotiable—even if it’s only a few dollars a paycheck—is kind of a big deal.
Being Honest About Your Spending Habits
Is a Starbucks run part of your weekly (or daily) routine? Do you indulge in takeout on the weekends when you’re feeling lazy? If so, congratulations, you’re a human being with random and unexplained wants! It’s hard not to feel guilty about “splurging,” especially in the growing online personal finance community. When everyone is applauding the frugal extremists, who went a whole month without spending money, you feel like a hot mess because you only lasted two days.
Think about it. Do you really want to spend your life depriving yourself of small pleasures to impress strangers on the internet? We all have areas we can scale back on in life. Scaling back too much will make you feel dead inside if you’re not naturally frugal. When bills are paid, you’re paying off debt, and saving, why not get Starbucks if your heart desires?
If you want to do a no-spend month as a personal challenge, go for it. I’m all about stepping out of your comfort zone. Don’t do it to fulfill an imaginary obligation to prove your financial discipline.
Let’s Shift The Mindset
It’s tough living in a society that chastises you for not being ambitious enough if you haven’t bought a house, luxury car, and snagged a six-figure salary before 30. Let’s be real though. Life has twists and turns that devastate the best of us. You can’t control the circumstances that throw you off course. What you can control is your response and what you do to get yourself back in the game.
And for the love of all things #BlackGirlMagic, PLEASE stop second-guessing your dopeness. If your goal is to buy a house in a year and you’re cleaning up your credit, you’re already accomplishing the goal! The house keys may not physically be in your possession, but they will be. Don’t panic over not being at step #10 when you haven’t finished steps #1-9.
K. Wright was inspired to venture into blogging in 2008 after reading websites like MissJia.com and Necole Bitchie. (Both sites no longer up and running, may they rest in peace!) Fast forward to today, K. shares her thoughts on personal finance from the perspective of a millennial woman of color. Read more of what she has to say at Money The Wright Way.