It is not a hidden fact that we live in a world that is all about surface level and ignorant shit. Honestly, I used to be all about it too.
I spent the early part of my twenties placing all of my focus on what I was presenting to the world and not on what I was obtaining in it. If I looked the part, even if I didn’t have a dime in my bank account, I was good. And believe me when I tell you this, I spent many days looking like money with my checking account overdrawn. Did you catch that?
A little of my story goes like this:
At 23, I moved from Texas to New York. The transition was rough at first, but eventually, I found my footing and was seemingly “living the life.”
I was salaried and able to pay my New York City rent – which wasn’t anywhere near cheap by the way. I had established a social circle as well as a pretty decent networking pool. My weekends were loaded with nice brunches, bar crawls, mani/pedis, and a few shopping adventures. All that seems dope right; a Texas boy making it happen in the big Apple? Well, it was, but only on surface. Underneath that surface I was broke both financially and emotionally.
Growing up many of us were not taught financial responsibility or what responsibility looked like in general. For many years before turning 18, we were told that once we reached that age, we ultimately had to figure it out on our own. Whether that meant leaving high school and going to college or jumping straight into the workforce, as an “adult” it was our duty to make it happen – even if we had to do so unequipped. And that’s what I did, made that life happen.
I moved to New York to figure it out. And after I had thought I had learned enough there, I moved to Cali to do some more figuring it out.
My California experience was nothing like my New York experience, though. From the moment I landed, it was crap. I spent a little over a year there, and it got so bad that the only thing I could do was call my mom and make plans to move back in with her.
I have now been here for almost a year, and this is what I have learned:
1. There is no shame in having to go back to your parent’s home as an adult (if given the opportunity to do so). I was 27 at the time, now 28 – and outside of the mess I had gotten myself into, I was dealing with the shame of being a grown ass man living with my mother.
It wasn’t until I got into therapy that I started to unpack where that shame was rooted. My mom is my best friend, and she didn’t have an issue with me coming home so why did I?
My problem, which forced me to be ashamed, was knowing that we live in a society that looks down upon people who live at home with their parents. And because I wasn’t secure enough in creating a life that was inspired by self, I allowed that thought to eat me alive for some time.
The shame only left when I realized that there was nothing to feel ashamed about it. I wasn’t the only person who was stressing themselves out in an attempt to create a life that they (we) couldn’t measure up to. I didn’t like where I was so I took steps to change it. There is no shame in that.
Do you know how many people will be broke, starving and still refuse to go home because of what that will look like to someone else?
2. Life has to make sense and cents to me. It made absolutely no sense to be paying 1,200 dollars just in rent when biweekly, there were 1,000 dollars deposited into my account. After rent, other bills were paid, food was bought, and money was spent to look good, it’s no surprise as to why I was broke.
Moving back home has shown me that living above my means in and of itself is a killer. I can’t do that. If I can’t afford it, I either shouldn’t be there, or I don’t need it. This brings me to my next point.
3. A savings account should not be optional; it should be mandatory. Living from pay check to pay check, or sometimes from overdraft to overdraft, is never anything we should get comfortable with doing. I don’t think I ever would’ve been able to realize this had I not been able to move back home. Creating an account that you put money in that you don’t touch allows you to stay prepared in the case of anything happening.
4. Minimal living is life. I had a whole apartment before. Now I’m living in a 14 by 14-foot room. In doing so, I realize that I need nothing more than a place to lie down, a place to put my laptop on, and somewhere to store my clothes and I’m good.
5. How important it is to create a life that feels good to me, even if it looks less than ideal for someone else. When I moved back home, and I’ll go into detail about the events that took place that got me here in a future post, I was a wreck.
I had no fight in me, no vision, my emotional state was trash, my mental wellness was nonexistent, and I was broke. After staying in bed for months, I got up one day and started making strides to create a better life for me. I came here with nothing but a suitcase. A month ago I got my first brand new car. I have new friends, a stronger sense of self, and I am also working on some super amazing things.
I had two options before moving back to Texas. I could continue living an Instagram-worthy life that looked good on paper and left me unfulfilled. Or, I could choose to lose everything, risk looking like a failure, start over and create a life of fulfillment.
I chose the latter.
In a culture that is largely shaped by and caters to millennials, it’s easy to find one’s self making decisions that are ego driven and not spirit driven. I know I did.
I am nowhere near where I want to be but I am also not as lost as I used to be either. I know not everyone has parents or family they can live with to help reshape their focus, and realizing that, I don’t mean for this post to come off entitled or from a space of privilege.
My hope is that whoever reads this understands that sometimes stepping back can allow the space to move forward.
What does stepping back look like for you?
Also published on Medium.