Shame on me?
Happy New Year, everyone… am now back from the constant party that is December. Hope your holidays brought you peace and joy.
At an inspirational business networking meeting last night, one of my fellow attendees spoke compellingly about where she’s found herself in her career. After several decades becoming well-known for what she does, she still hasn’t achieved full-on reliable cash flow and success. She’s a freelancer in a very competitive field, and even though she’s received awards and every door is open to her, she hasn’t yet hit on that one startling success that will guarantee her security for life. And, sitting there before our little group, she admitted to something I also wrestle with: shame.
I get caught in this trap myself. Here I am, a supposed grown-up, yet I still struggle to feed and clothe myself. At this stage in life, I should be thinking wistfully about retirement and years of ease — or at least, that’s what the prior generation trained me to expect. It doesn’t look like my life will ever go that way. What did I do wrong?
I did make a decision several years ago to follow my dream. In the sense of not yet starving and being able to live in an area I love, I’ve succeeded. But I will never be able to stop. My life doesn’t sport the accoutrements of many of my contemporaries. I’m not wanting for anything, but I’m not living a life of ease, either. Should I be ashamed?
One of the other attendees at the event last night pointed out that we’re all caught up in the maelstrom that is our country’s adjusting economy. She reminded us not to take our personal situations personally. We all agreed that the requirement to downsize, to simplify, to hone in on what we really need to be happy and healthy has strengthened us in recent years. When I think about how much money I wasted in earlier years pursuing things I didn’t really want because I thought I was supposed to want them, I now shake my head.
Yes, things have been tight. I’ve had to make choices and forgo things that before I could have gotten easily. But I’m running lean. I’m tougher. I know what I’m made of. Very little fazes me at this point; I now know how little cash it takes for me to be happy. I suppose then that I’m the consumer-culture’s nightmare.
When the economy does turn around, as it seems like it’s poised to do, I’ll be armed with the knowledge that I don’t need what I thought I needed. I will be much less inclined to waste, to over-indulge. I’ve lived without it for so long, and I’m lighter for it. Why take it back on?
So in 2013, I’m leaving behind the inclination to feel ashamed I haven’t achieved the worldly wealth I’d been raised to expect I’d have by now. I’ll embrace the fact that following my dream has brought me a different kind of abundance. Perhaps it doesn’t fill my bank account, but it does fulfill my life. And I’ll be prepared, when the time comes and the economy turns around, to hold onto what I’ve learned rather than slipping back into thoughtless consumption.
Shame? No way. That’s pride.