I was dogsitting last week at a beautiful condo in a very well-to-do town (in one of the top ten richest counties of the country). All of my clients have been in this area and can afford things like shopping at Whole Foods, elaborate decor, and, well, a dogsitter. I mention this because they live a life I’ve never gotten to live, one that I am envious of. I wouldn’t say I grew up poor, but my dad did, and we picked up on a lot of his habits and beliefs that shaped our lives. In particular, making do with the cheapest brands and barest of necessities, while going without a lot of “luxury” items that are so ubiquitous in other homes one might consider them necessities. I don’t resent that upbringing at all, but I did develop a good, healthy lust for a shinier, more expensive life (not that I can afford it).
This particular client from last week perfectly embodied everything I wanted–from the home, to her career, to the financial stability, to the decorations and furniture, to the food. It was like living in a magazine picture, the ones where they intentionally arrange all the antique furniture and cute decor into a cozy, inviting picture just to make you jealous. I mean, that’s why they do it right? When I do come across people with homes like that, my heart aches. I have no decor. I have no clean, beautiful home. I have no personal accents and flourishes that make it my own.
Why do I conflate material possessions with who I am as a person? And why on earth does it still make me so sad?
The only answer I can come up with is because 15-year-old Jessica thought she would be living that life at 26. I would have it all together. I would be working my dream job. I would have enough money to live comfortably and exquisitely. I would be a warm, happy, giving person because I wouldn’t have financial stress. I would be a “together” and “with it” adult. If I had only made the right choices, I would have been this exact woman.
But I didn’t make the right choices.
I don’t like to live in the past or in the “what ifs”, but I’m still guilty of throwing a pity party every now and then with guest of honor Regret. I don’t like to wax nostalgic too long and yearn for “days gone by” when my days are STILL going by as I’m busy lamenting. It’s up to me to live them right now and do things in the moment that can make not only my future better, but make my present better. There are things I can say yes to. There are things I can do that can give me peace and contentment. I may not have a bookshelf with loads of quirky, smart, cultural books, but I can get bath mats. Yes, I’m hanging my inner peace on bath mats. It’s the little things that you can say yes to: having a coffee date with a friend, cleaning out my car to make it feel fresh and new, getting fresh seat covers for my kitchen chairs, having an old fashioned slumber party… there’s an entire list I could make.
I’m still in school part time. I’m at a lower-paying job than I have been at in the past few years, but I like it and I don’t feel like it’s sucking my soul out of my ass and that’s worth something. To put things in perspective, I’m not going to get to that life of luxury for several more years. And yes, my choices got me off course, but they can also get me back on course, too.
I don’t have to live someone else’s life. I can do mine. Slowly but surely. Day by day. Eventually, I’ll get to where I want to be and try to have fun along the way.
And when that doesn’t work out: I’ll just be Wonder Woman.