I was talking with my friend Sally last week about how much simpler my life has begun to feel in the last few months and how I attributed part of it to a lack of disposable income. She said something that surprised me but that I now see the truth of: “Being poor when you’re young is great.”
That statement seems antithetical to the type of life society tells us to crave in our 20s. Coming of age with Sex and the City, I’m supposed to want the best wardrobe, a great apartment and an overstuffed social life. I’m supposed to want to be able to soak up every happy hour, bar opening and weekend of debauchery.
The thing is, I no longer care about all that stuff. I don’t know which came first–the not caring or the not having money to do/appropriate those things which has forced me to let them go. Either way, they’ve been wiped from my list of priorities.
I think what Sally meant was that being poor makes you more resourceful and more creative. While other people may see success in being able to afford a Coach purse, I now see it as being able to make dinner for $3 or ride my bike instead of drive a car when I need to get somewhere.
It’s like paring away at yourself until you’re down to the bare essentials. That’s how you find out what you’re really made of and who you really are. And that’s something best done when you’re young, before you have other people to care of.
Blessedly, the last few months have made me realize more what I really want in life: the ability to work for myself and have creative freedom; time with friends and family; time to read and learn; travel; a healthy lifestyle; a relationship with someone who wants the real me, flaws, neuroses and all, not the idealized version.
That list seems short. But the things on it are immense to me, and if I can have them, I will be happy. It wasn’t until I removed all the other distractions that I was able to see that.