The day I moved into my apartment, some mysterious dude (a neighbor?) stood in the doorway as me and my motley moving crew carried boxes up and down stairs. He asked if he could help, and my friend told him that no, we were good. I never saw the mysterious dude again. Later, this friend joked that mysterious dude who was scoping out my joint for stuff to steal took one look at my stuff and realized Nope, nothing here. All we got here are books and VHS tapes. (Yes, VHS tapes.) My friend brought up this story a number of times, laughing hysterically. While each time I laughed because yeah, you’re not gonna find any flat-screens here (hello, apartment of a girl who writes and edits for a living), it’s still kinda insulting now that I think about it.
Can I admit that sometimes I feel like a loser for being in my thirties and still living in a studio apartment paying bills month to month with no budget space for extras? Or that some nights I find myself layers deep in Facebook or Instagram albums, looking at pictures of gorgeous homes or sweater-clad families drinking hot cocoa or skiing or whatever else families do with their perfect marble countertops and Pinterest-worthy mantelpieces and manicured fingernails and perfect curls dusting their Aztec-patterned sweaters that are in fashion and that I want so badly but can’t right now afford?
This is not meant to be judgmental; I know that things are just things and that these people work hard for their things. It’s just that I have too. I’ve worked hard for years and years and yet I’m still here. Living in my tiny “quaint” apartment with its secondhand furniture and chipped dishes. And I know I’m not the only girl (ahem, woman) who sometimes feels like she’s “behind” in life.
So, as Martina McBride’s song says:
This is for all you girls about twenty-five,
In little apartments just tryin’ to get by,
Livin’ on on dreams and Spaghettio’s,
Wonderin’ where your life is gonna go.
Here are some things I do when I feel behind in life.
- Listen to music like the above! Been wanting to make a playlist with my fave songs that empower. Gotta get on that!
- Remind myself of the cool, creative life I am leading. I may not have all the nicest things, but man, it’s pretty cool that I’m actually using my degrees, working with authors and living a life surrounded by stories and constant learning. And that I’m supporting myself and can afford my tiny quaint apartment.
- Tidy my apartment, saying thanks for the items as I do. Yeah, I know, store treasures where moths and rust don’t destroy, but it’s okay to be thankful and realize you have a bounty too, even if it’s not Coach purses or Blu-ray discs. When my guy told his coworker I had a record player and VHS player, the coworker said I seemed like someone he’d like. “Retro” was the word I think he used. My guy does work with hipsters. But seriously, old stuff can be cool.
- Help others. It’s true, doing things for others reminds us that we’re not the only ones with struggles. It gets us out of our woe-is-me mentality.
- Invite someone over. Let people into your humble abode. Bring life and love into your little space. Buy some tea and cookies or popcorn and soda to have on hand when you have a guest. Pop in that VHS tape and watch a fun eighties movie. C’mon, EVERYONE loves The Breakfast Club! My brother just sent me E.T. on VHS, and I am so stoked to buy Reese’s Pieces and watch this!!!
- Set goals for the future, and make appointments with people who can help you get there. For example, I’ve been meeting with business coaches, and they are helping me set larger goals for my business, creative dreams, and life. Some of us know how to survive but not how to dream big and plan long-term. So get help! This year, I’ve been getting better and better at setting project rates that match the worth I provide. Now that 2017 is approaching, it’s the perfect time to set new goals!
- Dream!!! Visit places that inspire. Let yourself look at Pinterest. It’s okay to dream! One of my fave activities is to make a yearly vision board in which I cut out pictures that speak to me in some way and then arrange and glue them onto a piece of cardboard.
There’s a place an hour or so away I go to when I need to clear my head or when I want to dream. It’s a little seaside town where Nicholas Sparks filmed one of his movies, and there’s a little red-roofed cottage there.
It’s my dream house.
And guess what? The last time it went on sale, it was only $999,999. But you know what? When that For-Sale sign was on the lawn, I plopped myself right down on the steps of that front porch and drank my coconut-iced coffee in the sunshine. I smelled the fresh sea air. I imagined sitting on that porch with my morning coffee and sitting inside in my little office with my little writing desk, windows open to the sea while I wrote the books I longed to write. And it didn’t depress me at all.
It inspired me!
I took a picture of that little red-roofed cottage by the sea and made it the cover photo of my Facebook page. But first, that day, I walked around that beautiful, quaint neighborhood and dreamed. I’ve always believed that one day I will have nice things, that I will have a husband and a healthy family. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to dream, to desire nice things.
For now, I practice gratefulness. I try to give with joy and in faith in the ways I can (a lesson that is hard to practice sometimes when you’re one of the girls “in little apartments just tryin’ to get by”). I set goals and meet with coaches. I believe with a mix of faith and abundant thinking that someday I can have the nice things. That I am worthy of the nice things.
I practice gratefulness mixed with dreaming and hope.
I can honestly say it’s more daydreaming than pain I feel when I find myself clicking through pictures of families and nice homes and things, though I am human and have moments I feel sorry for myself or like a loser or that I am “behind.”
But I know these things are possible for me too.
And while I’m not a follower of the prosperity gospel, I do know that Jesus is my daddy and knows the desires of my heart and provides for my needs. He has proven this to me time and time again. And I know that abundant thinking is a great thing! It’s as healthy and invigorating as the breeze I feel when I walk the seaside town of my dreams.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
—Philippians 4:8 (NIV)