I have a theory that many people who have experienced financial hardship at some point in their lives have found a struggle meal. Now, a struggle meal is a meal that you would not normally eat if you had a decent looking bank account. It can be as simple as ordering off the dollar menu at a fast food store or even buying store brand butter and sugar to make sandwiches. While I haven’t known the poverty that comes from not knowing where my next meal is coming from, I do know the uncomfortable feeling of an overdrawn bank account and a week or two before the next payday. Not a great thing. Ironically my “struggle food” is lentils with vegetables and rice. It’s also probably my lazy food as well when I don’t feel like preparing anything for a few days. My point is that when you are working towards a goal you make the necessary sacrifices because you want a good end result. You forgo always splurging because you’re saving up for something. The sacrifices now pave the way for the rewards down the line. Then you can have a commemorative struggle meal instead of a real one.
I was a really interesting child growing up. My parents emphasized the importance of independence and doing things for yourself. However, they were by every definition pretty strict. I wasn’t allowed to wear colored nail police (only clear) and a host of other guidelines that were specific to our household I didn’t necessarily agree with. As a result, I learned ways around the rules that I decided were pointless. I decided from an early age that my parents were amateurs so I wouldn’t be too hard on them when they messed up the whole parenting thing. They were inexperienced so I would cut them some slack and not expect perfection because I knew they were trying even if their methods were highly flawed. With this perspective I proceeded to find ways to bend the rules. It was then that I had a childhood epiphany. While bending the rules or breaking them without getting caught required stealth, strategy and good timing, I had to make the decision before I broke the rules that I was willing to deal with the consequences of my actions. So it immediately became a toss up. Was the reward of breaking the rule bigger than that of the corresponding consequence? While this was a lesson I learned as a child, it also has larger ramifications. As adults, we are not usually subject to the discipline of parents but we can experience discipline from our jobs, from school, or other entities. Even as adults, it’s easy to make a decision without counting the cost. This can be especially true in situations where you have to make big decisions about careers, relationships, and goals. Sometimes you have to make a decision without having as much information as you’d like. However with the making of the decision you automatically assume all the risks and benefits that come along with making that particular decision. You are the one who deals with the consequences. You can’t pawn it off on others. But on the other hand, you are also the one who can benefit from your choices as well. You just have to make the right ones and then let the chips fall where they may.