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The Different Tiers of Letting Go

The title of this post is more confusing than it needs to be, but let me just take way too long to explain what I mean. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I've had a few different conversations with friends that have the same kind of general overlap. Lately, a lot of my conversations have revolved around finances and how to spend your personal finances, food (naturally), and general life experiences. It's not one of those "you had to be there moments," however, the conversations obviously went a little more in-depth than that.

I'm pretty passionate about not having guilty pleasures and instead just owning everything that you do and are. This is precisely why I have no issue admitting to my fourteen-year-long commitment to the Jonas Brothers or that sometimes I eat entire jars of cookie butter from Trader Joe's in a few days because it's addicting and just so damn tasty. If it brings you joy, why not do it or eat it or you know, other actions and verbs that are escaping me at the moment. This isn't a post about the specifics of depriving yourself of certain things (though intermittent fasting has come up a lot lately in my conversations as well and I have A Lot of Thoughts about this fad that is essentially just starving yourself with a new name but let's not get into that), but rather, is about the liberating feeling you get once you stop caring about what people might think.

Liberation is a dramatic way to put it, but it only makes sense for a dramatic person to go with this notion.

As a teenager who grew up alongside social media and idolized celebrities and Hollywood to some degree, I faced the normal struggles. I was tall and lanky and then I was average height and had what I thought were my problem areas (I now realize that this was just my hormones or god knows what playing with my mind) and then carried those insecurities forever while I surrounded myself with "thinner" people. I was never body shamed, to my knowledge, but there's always that little self-inflicted pressure that we all put on ourselves for whatever societal reasons. I felt like I stopped enjoying the things I used to enjoy because of the person I wanted to be, which required new clothes, new hair, new makeup, new diets, and a new personality. This gratefully didn't last very long because like, my parents raised me right and it's just really exhausting being somebody you're not, but still. Some people don't kick that phase ever, or at least not until later in their lives when they reach a point of contentment.

My life became ten times better when I let myself listen to the music I wanted to listen to publicly without hiding it in online communities, when I started to eat the food I wanted whenever I wanted to eat it without justifying it to myself or others (I like, barely ate yesterday so I'm extra hungry today...gag me), when I stopped freaking out about money I was spending on something I actually wanted to do. 

Money has always been a huge stressor in my life. I was always afraid of never having enough. Even sometimes still, I'm afraid I'm not saving enough and I'm spending too much when in reality, I save a lot more than most people my age do. This is largely due to the fact that I have no student loans, which I try to be as candid about as often as possible. I wouldn't have been able to move to New York City and take the offer I took at the job I still currently work at if I had loans. It would've been impossible. I still had to make sacrifices and pick up three extra random side jobs to pay off the credit card that I had to use sometimes to afford dinners when I was hanging out with friends.

I wasn't spending like crazy and charging designer handbags. I enjoy hanging out with friends and going to karaoke and getting drinks every once in a while or a slice of pizza on my walk home from the subway late on a Friday night. A year ago, I would have never forgiven myself for spending $5 without being able to justify it. I would've checked my bank account five times that day and do the calculations with my upcoming paycheck subtracting out what I owed for rent and approximately what I would owe for utilities and then for my minimum credit card payment. 

This isn't to say that I'm careless with my money, but I finally feel like my life isn't controlled by the number in my bank account. My uncle, who isn't materialistic or money focused in the slightest, told me this once years ago when I was having a borderline breakdown about all of the money I was spending on a trip to California that meant a lot to me: you can always make more money, so you might as well spend it. 

He wasn't telling me to like, you know, ball out and follow Niall Horan on tour in an effort to make him fall in love with me forever and ever like we're destined to...wait what?

All jokes and creepy fangirl talk aside, it's kind of always stuck with me and has kept me balanced. I still don't ball out because that just seems really irresponsible for me when this life is so unpredictable, but I dont deprive myself of experiences that bring me joy because then really, what's the point? I can't take my money with me after I'm gone and not to be like, too morbid right now, but like it's true. I'm not going to rememeber the $60 I spent on a night of drinks and karaoke with my friends in twenty years so I'm just going to spend it because it makes me happy and sometimes, those moments are far and few between. 

It's been a slow crawl of 23 years and will continue to be a slow crawl for 23 more years but I'm a work in progress. If I peaked at 23, god, what a sad thing that would be. I still have acne and tiny boobs for gods sake!

Sweater: H&M
Dress: Zara
Shoes: ASOS
Sunglasses: Forever 21
Bag: Saint Laurent

Photos by Emily Polner


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