Friday, May 8, 2009

A week feels like a year in blog years

My apologies for being missing in action during this last week. Actually, nix that. No apologies! I've been in the midst of a fabulous life change. I have been writing, though it's been on stories and not PF, and it feels good.

Don't get me wrong, I'm more coupon-obsessed than ever, and I'm not out charging my life away on my Nordstrom's credit card, but in this week of reevaluation of my life thus far, I am sick and tired of obsessing over money. I love my blog dearly (it's what got me through my second year of living in DC after I thought I'd have a nervous breakdown in the first), and I'll continue to be your faithful scribe on cheap fashion and intriguing finance stories that catch my eye, but as for money as a whole, I'm not going to let it rule my life anymore.

"But Crystal," you might point out, "it never seemed like money ruled your life that much in the first place. Wasn't it you, a PF blogger no less, who spent $400 on a Dooney handbag?" Yes, that was me. I realize this is a cardinal sin in PF-dom, but money (after you've put some aside, of course) is meant to be enjoyed. Wring all you can out of sales, coupons and clearances, make sure you have your bills paid off, some savings in place, and then...well, enjoy yourself. You want a steak for dinner? Eat it happily, and don't think about its cost. You earned it. Life is too short for constant, back-of-your-mind fretting. You'd be allowing your money to own you.

Which was the epiphany that hit me earlier this week, as I pummeled a punching bag in my kickboxing class. I'm always surprised at how clear my mind becomes and how easily the answers seem as I'm kickboxing, sweating to Britney's "Circus" remix blaring from speakers near the wall of windows. I got to thinking about how much I love coming to this class and how much weight I've lost in the last couple years (working a desk job after college took me from a sz. 4 up to a sz. 10, and now, I'm elated to report, back to a sz. 6 and dropping). Thing is though, the classes are expensive. Like, lots-of-money-upfront expensive. So what allows me to attend these (what I can even admit are) rip-off classes? My full-time job, of course. Which I might add I used to love, keywords being "used to." (That's another post to come.)

So why I have stayed? Well it funds my kickboxing habit, first off, but more than that it's a security thing. You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn't like getting a steady paycheck every two weeks, especially if that person is married to a student and is covering all rent, food and other vital necessities solo until graduation. Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy to do this. What I'm not happy about is going to work everyday, dreading my commute in. And dreading sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day doing inane tasks, asking myself (sometimes even out loud in the fifth-floor bathroom), what I'm doing there. I've even found myself standing to the right on the metro escalator, fervently delaying the inevitable time spent in the office by a scant few minutes as others push past me on the left, eager to clock in.

For the directionless who simply just want a job, this situation would be perfect. I make more money than I probably should, work under lax deadlines, and can generally buy whatever I want. For someone with a deep love for something else, though, it's all excruciatingly suffocating. So naturally your next suggestion would be to follow that love, but what if it lies in something that could not (at least for the foreseeable future) pay bills properly?

When I was young, I wanted to be a writer. (Well, first I actually wanted to be a smurf, but that was before I realized that "What do you want to be when you grow up" was not the same as "What do you want to be for Halloween".) I began reading voraciously before most of my classmates, was always bought a steady stream of books by my parents, and someday imagined myself penning a classic and maybe even winning a Pulitzer. (Hey, no one said youth was delusion-free.) Then high school rolled around and I realized, at least from what I was told, that it was virtually impossible to make a living as a writer. And when I say writer, I mean novelist. So I cast off my novelist dreams as childish and unsustainable, and decided to follow my second passion: journalism. I figured I could parlay my love for researching and telling stories into short-form, and I would even get paid regularly to do it (I was -- and still am -- willing to work for a pittance). I majored in English and went on to grad school and then ... journalism as a field collapsed. I worked as an editor for a while at a Bay Area newspaper, lived through what working for conglomerate MediaNews was like, and ended up in DC, where I am now. If you had told me back in high school that I would be where I am now, I would have laughed and mumbled something about selling out.

But here I am. A sell out. Slave to the secure paycheck. And all I really want to do is pull that comfortable ripcord and write books. Which brings me back to my kickboxing class. As I pummeled the bag, I got angrier with every jab and kick. "Who are you?" I thought. Punch. "When did you decide that money was worth more than giving up on what you love?" Kick. "You say life is short all the time, so why do you play it so safe?" Punch, punch, kick. "You're talented and you've got potential. That talent won't take you anywhere, that potential won't ever be reached, as long as you're working for someone else." Roundhouse kick to the bag's head.

And after class, as I toweled the warm, dripping sweat from my face, I resolved to not let money rule my life anymore. To not let security or my job rule my time. It's mine, after all, and it can't be bought. Sure I love this kickboxing class, but I love my creative freedom more. There's no question which one I'd give up. No one ever got anywhere by playing it safe, and I'm tired of walking that beaten path.


wellheeled said...

I LOVE this post. And I can't wait to hear more. :)

asgreen said...

Fantastic. I can't wait to see where this revelation brings you!

FB @ said...

This, is a FABULOUS post!

I am getting inspired just reading it.

Stephanie said...

I like it. It's like a manifesto for the working girls who desperately want to be doing something else more in tune with their nature. (raises hand as one of them!) I will be the first one in line to buy your novel :)

I'm getting closer and closer to this decision myself. Maybe I need a moment of kick boxing clarity?

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I almost never comment, but I felt compelled to save this one in Google Reader from when I first read it this morning at work so that I could comment now at home. :)

GOOD FOR YOU! Good luck! I hope you become amazingly successful so that you ARE able to make money by what you love.

Rooting for you,

Emily said...

I just want to encourage you to have courage! I have no success story of my own, but wanted to give you a shout-out anyway. :> You CAN do it, so be brave and boldly go.

Lauren said...

Amazing post! I would totally buy your novel. I can totally relate and have yet to find my passion(working on it) because right now it's just all about money(getting husband through law school). I told my husband though that I will no longer sacrifice my(our) happiness for a job(money). Money is important and essential but not worth my sanity!

Karianne Salisbury said...
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