An open letter to my (NOW EX) boyfriend and anyone that might not understand my lifestyle...
I’d like to start this off with a little disclaimer:
My opinion is my own and is not directed at anyone specifically. I am in no way telling people how to live, calling you poor, judging you for your lifestyle choices, belittling you or basically anything else that you might take offense to. In fact, the only one who should be offended from this is my boyfriend, Kevin. Sorry in advance, love you!
This all started the other day when I was putting together a short bio for my website feature on PacificAndPark.com (insert shameless self-promotion here.)
“...I think too many people are settling for the secure, "conventional" lifestyle, but I was not built for the monotonous 9-5 routine. Life's too short and the world is too big to not be experiencing it! After hanging up my pompoms from being an NFL cheerleader, I now spend my weekends bartending in Philadelphia and my weeks seeing a new part of the world. In the past 5 months alone I have visited 5 different states and 11 different countries!...”
When I asked my boyfriend's opinion, he warned me that i’m “blasting people with jobs” and “not everyone is lucky enough to make a killing bartending.”
First of all, Kevin, I HAVE A JOB. Secondly, not once did I say that living a conventional lifestyle was a bad thing. I said that it wasn’t for me. I know tons of people who love their job and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“Not everyone is lucky enough to make a killing bartending”
Well not everyone is willing to get out of their comfort zone and live an unconventional lifestyle either! How do you know you can’t make a killing doing something like bartending if you’ve never even tried?
In his defense, Kevin does make a living off of a career that’s far from a 9-5. He works an insane amount of hours, but it’s for a job that he absolutely loves that leaves him feeling fulfilled. He is the ying to my yang and one of my biggest supporters. I asked for his honest opinion and he gave me an unbiased answer; Telling me how people might perceive my statements.
I know he wasn’t intending on insulting me by implying that I didn’t have a job. He just meant that I didn't have a “traditional job.” (At least he better have meant that) But for someone who sees first hand how hard I actually work (sometimes) can you kind of see where I'm coming from here?
I get shit from people all the time about how I choose to live my life and now you’re telling me that I’m the one being offensive by saying I refuse a life of mediocrity? There's too many amazing places to see, people to meet, and things to experience in the world for me to be spending my days stuck behind a desk! Instead of working for a living, i'm choosing to live for a living. I don't scrutinize you for what you choose to do with your life, so what gives you the right to do it to me?
Life's hard, I get it. As the Rolling Stones said so perfectly, "you can't always get what you want."
But that being said...you usually can get what you make a priority in life.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's all about priorities.
I can afford travel because I make it a priority. (seriously, count how many times I'm about to use the word "priority")
I make simple sacrifices to my everyday lifestyle so that I can afford to do the things that make me happy. Last month I canceled our $160/month Comcast cable and switched to $40/month internet and a Netflix account. Doing that alone saves us $1,440 a year!
Have you ever added up the amount of money that you spend by going to work everyday? No, that wasn’t a type-o, do you realize how much it costs you to be working?
Just think about it... between your business attire wardrobe, your car to get to work, gas, morning coffee, lunch, happy hour drinks after work to prevent you from strangling you boss… That stuff adds up to more than you realize.
That $5 Starbucks coffee you splurge on twice a week ends up being almost $500 a year.
Just eating out one $15 meal a week adds up to $720.
Those $50 (I’m generously rounding down here) Saturday night bar tabs are costing you $2,400 a year.
Of course you deserve to be pampered every month by getting a simple $25 mani/pedi. But If you just paint your own damn nails then you save enough money for a flight to Aruba. (US Air is offering $300 round trip from Philly right now FYI!)
I’m not saying you need to nickel and dime everything. If you know me at all (or you've ever seen my shoe collection) you know I'm the first to admit to being frivolous with money and can't stand when people are stingy. Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest! If that means going out and getting drunk with your friends, by all means be my guest, literally! (Those nights out you can’t remember = my next trip paid for.) There is no right or wrong answer on how to live your life and my opinion certainly shouldn't matter. What you make a priority and choose to spend your money on is nobodys business but your own.
If you can’t afford to travel, it’s because you’re not making it a priority.
Yes, “things” make us happy, but they also break, get lost, stolen, and outdated.
To me, what you gain through travel is something that's truly priceless.
The experiences and memories you make while traveling can't be broken. Having an open mind and understanding of how other people live in the world will never be outdated. The adrenaline rush from skiing down a 500ft summit in the Alps will never get lost, and no one can steal the feeling you got when you saw the Colosseum for the very first time.
That’s why I choose to make it a priority.
What it comes down to is holding ourselves liable for the life we're choosing to lead. Too often I'm hearing people complain about their jobs and telling me how envious they are of my travels.
THAT'S YOUR CHOICE! No one is making you go to a job everyday that you hate or forcing you to buy an expensive car that costs half your years salary. You are accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, change it! People, YOU DON’T NEED TO SETTLE!
So, Kevin, while I do respect your opinion on how the things I say might be negatively conceived by others, one of the most liberating feelings in my life has been the realization that I don’t have to settle. No approval from anyone but myself needed.
Sorry I'm not sorry if you don't agree with my point of view. That's why it's MY point of view and not yours. To those people who do take offence, here’s a thought: Maybe it’s because you're the one who settled for something that leaves you feeling unsatisfied and unhappy with your own life.
There's no doubt that at some point in my life my priorities will switch from seeing the world to something else. When that time comes I’ll welcome it with open arms. But for now, I’m off to Southeast Asia for the next few weeks. Enjoy your cable TV though!
For those of you counting, I said "priority" 8 times