There’s so much advice swirling around. It’s a cacophony of promises to take the edge off the pandemic. While I sincerely hope it’s working for some people, it hasn’t much worked for me.
This post isn’t set to weigh anyone else’s advice. In fact, it’s likely that the advice may truly help someone–or many someones. But the truth is, when I thought about the advice I truly needed in this particular moment, I realized I’ve heard it before.
I’ve blogged about it.
I just didn’t take it.
Then, like anyone who was buying CDs in the 90s, the mother of all earworms manifested.
“The good advice you just can’t take.” It’s one of the best lines in the whole song, never mind the fact that there’s nothing ironic about it. Willful ignorance isn’t the opposite of what anyone expects–it is, in many ways, the hallmark of human nature.
Or at least of my nature.
I realize that there is so much advice that I’ve received–and some that I’ve even given–that I haven’t yet accepted.
And if living in the middle of ::waves arms:: ALL THIS isn’t a good time to stop and reconsider some of that advice, when is?
Here’s the advice that I hope I can get a little better at taking. (Oh, and don’t worry. It has nothing to do with waking up at 4 am or giving up carbs.)
Progress Isn’t a Line
“You won’t make a straight line. Your life won’t look like any road map or blog post or chapter in a self-help book, not when you’re in the midst of things. But when you’re on the other side, you’ll see the dots connect. Until then, well, we’re all along for the ride.”
For many of us, we are living in a moment in time where the only way out is through. What that looks like may be markedly different depending on who you are, where you live, what your financial situation looks like, and myriad other variables. But no matter the course that any of us are charting, we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to connect the dots now. That comes later.
And when the dots do connect? Well, they certainly won’t form a single straight line.
Showcase Your Struggles, Too
“I can turn on any TV channel, pick up any tabloid, scroll through any six-figure success story to see that there are people who are more successful than I am, people who found their success overnight.
What I need from you is proof that you struggled, too. I need to see that the challenges that I face don’t set me apart from you. Instead, that’s what we have in common.”
This isn’t the time to hide your success. Yet, I’ve heard many people lament feeling successful or happy or healthy in 2020. Why? It makes them feel guilty.
That’s absolutely unnecessary. We all need a little something to celebrate, even if it isn’t our own situation. Share your successes and enjoy them when they do happen. Even now.
But it might be time for all of us to be more transparent about our struggles, too.
You Aren’t Queen Bey…Neither Am I
“I thought that admitting any of this in a post meant that I was weak. I thought that asking for help or not having all the answers meant I failed motherhood before it even began. And I thought that the only way to be successful was to never need help. After all, when we talk about everything Beyonce gets done in 24 hours, we don’t mention anyone who supports her.”
I wrote this post–which is easily one of the most personal posts I’ve written and I overshare like it’s my job–and was positively gobsmacked by a comment that I received on Twitter. From a friend, no less! “But we really do all have 24 hours in a day.”
But somehow I highly doubt that my to-do list looks anything like Beyonce’s. Even if we did share the same resources, the same talents, and the same agenda, we aren’t the same person. Everyone is totally unique. So that means that holding yourself to someone else’s standard might be unobtainable, and it’s certainly irrelevant.
If you aren’t doing the pandemic or anything else like Beyonce, you’re doing just fine.
I’m Doing Well Enough
“But I am not better off than these people.The personal finance world is not a microcosm of the world. It is not representative of the way that most people think of money, handle money, or approach life. And it’s so easy to lose sight of that. When you spend time in a world where a simple tweet about wanting to earn more money is met with dozens of different strategies by people who have actually charted the way, it seems like this world is a reflection of real life. It really is. And it also isn’t.”
One of the most common pieces of advice is to consider who you surround yourself with. After all, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. As someone who was thrust into gifted and talented programming in elementary school, I can tell you it’s not unlike spending much of your free time in the personal finance part of the interwebs. There are so many benefits to surrounding yourself with high achievers. You feed off one another’s drive and determination and passion.
But then you also find yourself pushing harder and racing faster, only to realize that five-person average is so far removed from the real world, you’ve totally missed how absolutely positively fine you’re doing.
It’s OK to be average sometimes.
It’s fine to be average all the time.
And it’s important to learn how to find contentment in well enough. Just ask my dad.
Spend Some of Your Savings
“What if this quest for financial freedom that we are on isn’t just about the destination? What if I’m not just growing my income, reducing my expenses, and saving and investing the difference to make my future self happy?
The future is no better than the present. The person that I am set to become in 5, 10, or 20 years isn’t more deserving of happiness, health, or air conditioning than present me.”
There have been so many moments during the pandemic and its aftermath that I’ve waffled, clutching my wallet. I hemmed, I hawed. I spent a great deal of time refusing to adjust my budget despite the fact that grocery prices were soaring. For months, I did this with virtually every aspect of our money.
What I couldn’t quite bring myself to admit was that my savings became an obstacle, not an asset. Instead of rolling with the situation, I created more friction. Not for any real reason other than I wasn’t ready to let myself spend my savings. But you know what? It’s OK to spend your savings.
So Tell Me…What advice–either your own or advice from others–do you struggle to take? Did I success in getting Ironic stuck in your head? Have you listened to the update that’s actually ironic?