Just a little look back to when I was 25ish…
I was living a great life, although poor… I mean below poverty level poor. I had a lot… friends, family, a place to live, a car and occasionally food to eat – but it was hard times.
What I didn’t have was heat for a few months of the year, a phone (I had to ride my bike about 3/4 of a km, and if they were closed – like after 4pm – I had to ride my bike about 1.5 kms and stand outside a phone booth, often in not so great weather! Sometimes I had to change pennies in to get a quarter…), gas money to get anywhere, not to mention money for fun stuff, a gym membership, clothes or the like. I was lucky to have my mom’s pantry to ‘shop’ at… occasionally loading up on canned soup, (I recall one time having a can of beets for dinner, yum!), and friends and a sister who would sometimes bring me Pepsi and a Subway sub. My grocery budget was $16 a week. $16 can actually buy a lot of Chef Boy-R-D.
I had a boyfriend who did pay for my bowling league ($11 a week) – my one consistently ‘fun’ night out – with the pre-requisite that I pick him up and drive him home after, so he could have a few drinks (I couldn’t afford a few drinks, and sometimes I didn’t have the gas to get around). I also had a great friend who let me live in his attic in the winter, and in exchange I worked for him on and off and occasionally he’d pay me, so I didn’t have the personal shame of moving back home.
I was still starting off in a new career, one that is most successful when backed by a large network or friends and family – which I had, but not particularly within the demographic necessary to any significant or consistent income… especially when one realizes that my father was dying at the time, and me living close to him, and not having a typical 9-5 job – some more responsibility feel on me, taking time away from my career ambitions and ultimately income.
Would I change a thing? Not really, not a whole lot. If I could go back, I’d spend even more time with my father of course. I might have sucked it up and moved back home to not burden my generous friends. I might not have created additional financial strain for myself by purchasing a house I could never live in. Hmm… I guess I would have changed my ‘actions’, and not so much my ‘things’ or lifestyle. Interesting.
The bottom line is that it was (and still is) my life and I made the best choices (or so I thought) at that time. When you’re 25 (feel free to insert any age, really), you think you know everything… and in my opinion (hey, it’s my blog!), it’s difficult to understand that life will never be ‘fair’. Trust me, I wanted what some of my peers had back then… but life is all about the daily choices we make and indeed, sacrifices and perseverance. Who knows? Maybe my friends admired my independence and ability to live without a lot.
Bottom line numero deux – I took responsibility for my life and choices.
Yep, within a few short years I met my husband, and yes, many of my financial problems disappeared, but I wouldn’t trade those lean years for anything. Maybe he wouldn’t have loved my personality if I hadn’t experienced what I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have seen something so special within him if I didn’t have those life events… who knows? But we are only our past experiences, what we’re doing today to better ourselves with a dash of hope for the future.
I learned so much about real life and true friendship during that time, and I’m glad I had those experiences.
Life is good. Yes, even blissful.