Once upon a time, in my mid- twenties, I was a writer. I spent my days writing a book that I’d developed during uni, and I wrote for a comedy blog. To pay the rent, I worked nights in a restaurant.
When my partner lost his job, I stopped writing temporarily and started working full time in the job I’m currently in, to enable him some time to find a job he really liked. Intending to go back to writing once we were back on our feet, we instead decided that I’d stay in my job and we’d buy a brand new car on a whim. We booked a holiday to New York. We got engaged and planned our wedding. But we put the wedding on hold when we decided to buy a home. We started renovations, and booked more holidays to ‘get away from it all’, because my life became something I needed to get away from.
Whilst all this was going on, we spent (easily) thousands on furniture, clothes, beauty products, treats, takeaways, technology. Skipfuls of stuff. That’s what I swapped for my life of fun and fulfillment- sure I was broke but then, but I was also happy AF.
I was recently listening to the Minimalist podcasts where Dan Harris (if you’ve not heard of this guy, I urge you to Google him) said that when we buy, we want happiness, but what we actually get is excitement. Excitement for five minutes as your tear open your Christmas gifts, that buzz for a few hours when you charge up your new iPhone, the thrill of the first few days in your new home as the possibilities of life ahead stretch before you. But long term, does any of it actually make us happy?
In my own opinion- no. In actuality, the choices I’ve made over the past few years have made me unhappy. Sure I’ve had the initial high, but living a life on credit is very stressful and depressing. Buying and renovating a home with your other half forces your romantic relationship out the brand-new-triple-glazed window you’ve just fitted, and causes all sorts of drama as you both get pushed to your respective limits trying to hold down jobs, live in a building site and still function. And I’d always turn to buying clothes when I felt particularly shit about myself, therefore masking the fact that I was suffering from low self-esteem- which I hadn’t had the time or the energy to address.
Of course, we have to buy things. We need things to live. But what I wish I’d done was bought or spent about one third of what I actually did, and consumed more intentionally. I would have more options right now.
My best times over the past year costed little to nothing. The cups of tea I’ve nursed in the back garden with a blanket on my knees because summer in Belfast is still freezing. The walks on the beach with the dog. Spending time with family and friends. Lie-ins. Walking out of yoga class feeling on top of the world. Blogging again (writing is bae… lol). When our debt free journey is over, I’m not going back to where I was again. No more distractions, no more mindless consumption, no debt, no medication.
Who is with me?