Single, lonely, and spending money
When I was younger, I felt lonely. We’re talking a crushing, oh-shit-the-world-is-empty type. I wouldn’t say I was a deep thinker, but my questions seemed more macro — larger than the everyday.
I use to draw a lot. My art was dark and moody. Often, I seemed to be expressing my disdain for life, and the sadness I felt inside.
I spent money like it was going out of style. I couldn’t resist buying a $1,000+ dollar road bike on a whim, even though I had barely showed any interest in cycling. Oh, and there was that gambling problem, too.
The cash in my wallet was merely an intermediary between work and stores — singlehandedly feeding the consumption our economy supposedly needed. I didn’t save money. It was meant to be spent. I was definitely dissatisfied with life. Another part was fearful of dying too soon. I spent so much money trying to avoid those feelings.
Looking back, I know I made huge spending mistakes. Only now can see how that affected me.
Coupled, insecure, and still spending money
Unfortunately, my spending didn’t resolve itself because I was suddenly in relationships. I thought that would fix everything. When partnered, I felt compelled to impress, treat, give, and spend. I wanted to be easygoing — I tried so hard to be — and spent like it was the end of days.
I couldn’t save money. I was spending whatever I had to make someone else happy. In the process, I only grew more unhappy and indebted to a bank; that affected my girlfriends, too.
Deeply insecure and and spending without pause, my budgets always crumbled. My desire for frugality was bashed in by insecurities and inner loneliness. I cannot tell you how many times I thought, “Am I worth it?” That question always hurt.
Single and saving money
Back then, I was withering under the pressure. Something shifted in me. Nowadays, things are slightly different; not perfect, but better. I’m able to evaluate situations in fairness and calmly make the next steps for a longer-term future.
I’m single again. Rather than feel lonely, I notice a new security and happiness. I’m surrounded by friends and people I care deeply about, while working tirelessly to help others through my work (counseling).
Every now and then, hunger pains for spending stir in me. I sit before my laptop — a four-year-old Macbook Air — as it whirs away inefficiently and slower than it used to operate. I feel a pull to spend more than I currently have to buy a new laptop. I’ll wait.
I see a wonderful Patagonia shirt, which is accidentally being advertised to me through a YouTube personality. It makes my mind cue up a desire for one of my own. Before I buy that $70+ shirt, I remember what I’m trying to do, and resist the purchase. I’ll wait.
Staying present, focused on my goals
Unlike past years, when I felt isolated and alone, I’m (mostly) secure and hopeful. I’m excited with my days — blown away by the meaning I derive from both my play and work. Somehow the spending is more on my terms.
When I pull out my cash or cards, I know why I’m doing it. I’m not paying off demons inside my head or distracting myself through conspicuous consumption. No, I’m interested in being intentional, thoughtful, accountable to myself and others. When I have a healthy, balanced budget a remarkably simple consequence occurs: I feel positive, too.
That’s what I’m working on.