Today’s Stress Less Tip –
Like your possessions, love lour life.
I have a confession to make. Like many young professionals attempting to live within their means, I lived in a cozy, tiny apartment through my twenties with aging floors and fading carpets. I was totally cool with it because I prided myself on the fact that I didn’t allow my big, shiny possessions, or lack of them, to define me. Given the state of our economy today, I think we all need to remember that being happy makes us successful more than a HDTV, iPod touch, or for the homeowners among us, a stainless steel kitchen set and a front-loader washing machine.
But here’s where I took the sentiment too far: I shunned major material purchases all together and told myself I didn’t want to own a house of my own because I didn’t need one to make myself feel important. I actually walked around touting Thoreau, “Enjoy the land, but own it not. Through want of enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling, and spending their lives like serfs.”
Then I turned 30 and my husband wanted a baby-I mean a house. Whew! I was terrified; I admit it. What if it’s too much work? What if it’s too expensive? What if we become boring old people who forgo travel to stain the patio? What if I spend less time on self-development to devote more time to home improvement? Is it sometimes easier to make over our kitchens than it is to makeover our lives? People have told me that I tend to overanalyze …
My husband helped me to realize my dream of launching Campus Calm, so now I wanted to help him realize one of his dreams of owning a house. We jumped in, now we’re officially homeowners. We ordered a dining room set, dishwasher and front-loading washer and dryer. We painted, primed and polished. Hung new curtains, took them back to the store, and then re-hung fancier, better curtains. We put in a new kitchen floor and decided it was time to get a bigger, more comfortable bed.
While the country is trying to embrace the less is more mentality, I feel a little guilty admitting that I started spending more. And I learned a whole lot about myself in the process:
1. Decorating is actually fun because you get to be an artist, your home your canvas.
2. Living within our means in our twenties paid off because my husband and I were able to appreciate and afford our new windows, carpets and plumbing that much more because we didn’t splurge for them when we truly couldn’t afford them while in our twenties.
3. Spending within reason, like investing in our education or our home, affords us the opportunity to practice budgeting.
4. I could like my possessions and still love my life. That is the most important lesson I gained. I could take pride in my hip, modern kitchen, the whole time knowing that if I had to give it all up tomorrow, I would still know exactly who I was, and could still be happy and successful.
5. When we purchase to fill a void inside that only free things can fill, that’s when our houses, apartments and dorm rooms, and all the stuff in them, become hollow.
~ Maria Pascucci, founder & president, Campus Calm
Author, Campus Calm University