Part of the nature of my job is that I completely change places every few month but it also means that I tend to move quite frequently. Recently, I went through yet another move due to the lease ending on my apartment and it has been more of an adjustment than usual. I try not to do it, but I think that I got emotionally attached to my old place. There were so many good memories but also countless tears cried as I tried to figure out my life and navigate the ever confusing world of dating. My apartment became the place I could go when I had a long day at work and just wanted to sleep when I got home. It was the apartment I went back to after graduating with my PhD and where I celebrated getting a faculty job at my alma mater. It was also the space where I dealt with some of the stress going on in my life and started to meditate in order to sleep more deeply at night. It was the space where I got to spend some quality time with someone who meant a lot to me and where we had some amazing conversations about everything under the sun. I inwardly groaned each time that I walked up all those steps to the third floor but I was secretly glad that at least I got some cardio from merely going home. It was the place where I got a second job offer and completed a total of over six weeks of training. It was my space. And for some reason, losing it has been really challenging. So many times people talk about having something or someone that grounds them and losing my space was a big reminder that I need to be deliberate in doing that for myself. The downside of traveling all the time is that there really isn’t a space to call home and that can make it challenging to really build meaningful connections with others. It’s not impossible but definitely challenging when you’re a homebody. I love to travel and by love, I mean LOVE. But there’s something to be said about having a home to go to after you’re done with traveling. So as I type from my new temporary place, I’m reminded of the fact once again that I think I’m gonna need to settle down soon. Stability is good for the soul. I think.
I’ve had awesome opportunities to travel this year. I’ve posted on quite a few of them. I’m in the process of finalizing the plans for the last few trips of the year. This year has been full of changes and I can honestly say that I feel like a different person from the one I was in January. It’s funny how a change of perspective can also change your actions. While I’ve always made decisions based on my career goals and professional opportunities, it’s time to make some for more personal reasons. Like something as trivial as happiness or a comforting illusion like security or stability. The truth of the matter is that we won’t live forever and we aren’t allowed do-overs in life. That being said, I think life is too short to spend substantial amounts in places you don’t like for the purpose of professional goals. We are all familiar in some way with sacrifices needed in order to get where we want to get in life. But it quickly becomes pointless when sanity is sacrificed and self care is abandoned. So there is a choice that has to be made. The choice to do something for you instead of for your goals. It’s time.
The topic of this article is somewhat near and dear to my heart. To the extent that I was seriously considering doing my dissertation on something related to it, but decided not to because I already have some strong opinions that would most likely prove me to be biased. The article raises some valid points as it relates to rates of marriage. Among the people I know, many are working to become financially secure before they get married. In contrast, many people from my parent’s generation got married young and struggled. One positive thing about that path is that if you’ve already made it through hell when your marriage is young, you’ll probably be less likely to leave the partner who stood by you during that dark period. However, while there’s nothing wrong about being in love and being poor, it’s not the easiest of lives to lead. Add children to the already financially stressed couple and you have a recipe for a super stressed relationship that could easily lead to divorce if the couple has not developed some good communication skills and a genuine friendship with each other. One of the premises of this article is that marriage can lead to wealth but the rates of marriages are declining. People are waiting longer to get married. I know of a couple who became wealthy simply because they only lived off the salary of one of the partners and then invested the salary of the other partner. Decisions like that are impossible when you’re living on a single income. People want to know that they have some sort of a buffer in marriage and aren’t coming into it with nothing. For some people, marriage is the best financial decision that they’ve ever made. I wonder what the lasting effects of people getting married at later ages will be on wealth accumulation as a whole?
Growing up, I was taught the verse that admonished me to not love money because it was the beginning of evil. No truer words have even been spoken. Human greed is a powerful thing and millions have died as the result of the selfish decisions of a few. With millions of people chasing the “American Dream” with hopes of one day becoming independently wealthy, one has to ask, does money buy happiness? Depending on who you are (and how much money you have) your answer to this question will vary. I’ve always been told that money doesn’t buy happiness, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to disagree with that statement. I humbly submit that money actually does buy happiness. In the world today there so much emphasis on doing what makes you happy and being happy in life. I for one, don’t particularly subscribe to that perspective. Over the course of my life, I’ve bought things that have inadvertently brought me happiness. With money. I’m not a genius but I know that the having more money in my particular situation would increase my quality of life and also allow me to travel more which would translate to happiness. Happiness is fleeting and doesn’t last for an extended period of time. It’s not necessarily something that you can hoard and save for a special occasion. While money may buy happiness, it doesn’t bring lasting peace or joy, it won’t buy you good health, it won’t solve your family problems and it won’t save you from dying. But it comes in handy in times of stress, can improve your quality of life if used wisely, and consequently, can buy you things and experiences that bring you happiness. Not peace of mind. But definitely happiness.
There’s this theory in the counseling world about attachment. The basic premise of this theory is that our relationships with others are a result of our first relationships with our primary caregivers. This goes all the way back to being a newborn. Babies are conditioned to cry in order to get their needs met. The process of crying and then having someone come to their aid reinforces the fact that they are safe and that someone will care for them. When a baby is ignored for long periods of time and his or her basic needs are not adequately met, either the baby becomes really clingy or the baby can stop crying and withdraw. It’s funny how you can see the same behavior in adults when they feel that their needs are not being met. What all this means is that people can find themselves in emotional distress due to not having a secure attachment with their primary caregiver when younger or even not having a secure attachment when they are adults. A secure attachment is when you are securely connected to someone (usually a significant other) who you can trust and allow yourself to be vulnerable with. The whole idea is that if you have a secure attachment you won’t be as concerned about what others think about you because you have at least one person in your life who means a lot to you and is 100% supportive of you. It took me taking an actual class about this to realize that I don’t have a secure attachment with anyone right now. Definitely not the greatest news to discover as a therapist but it wasn’t a huge surprise. And while that is something that I’d like to change, I’m not quite sure if I want it to change. I’ve mentioned the “three year rule” in a previous post and that would definitely come into play as far as me having a secure attachment. I’m not necessarily upset about that, but I’m not ok with it as well. However, that’s where I am for the time being and it’s going to take me being super deliberate in order to change that.
Security. We all want it in some way or another. We all know a little kid who keep a blanket or some item with him or her all the time and it serves as a source of security. I think that as we get older, we look more for relational or financial security because we see it as important. One thing that I’ve noticed about myself more is that while I really appreciate and enjoy flexibility, security and stability are slowing climbing the list of my priorities. And it seems as if life is throwing me the curveball of extra flexibility. My mind is always going and I always have ideas but I tend to stick to what I know sometimes instead of venturing out into the big black unknown. But I feel a change coming as I start to plan going to a higher level of flexibility–or even something different. I tend to over-plan and analyze because I have an attraction to the concept of security. However, it’s time for me to crawl out of the box of my comfort zone and to experience more of what life has to offer. We’ll see how it goes….