Let me be clear, if someone gave me a Tesla, I would not turn it down. My birthday is right around the corner... FYI
A few weeks ago I was sitting in a room with two people in the waitlist to get Teslas. They were talking about what features they were going to get, color options, and all the different models available and the pros and cons of each one. I got so tired of the conversation because it's not one I can participate in. I felt, at the time, that it was because I can't afford a Tesla.
I am currently on an East Coast trip, visiting friends I made while living in NYC for nearly 10 years. The point of this trip has been reconnection (a week in the DC area and I haven't even been to a free museum). I have been so relaxed and also introspective. Lots of journalling, questioning, reading and talking. When I haven't seen close friends for years, we tend to jump into the Big Things that have been going on in life. Talking about The Big Things means I'm also thinking a lot about the Big Things: What is my ideal life? What is a meaningful life to me? What defines success, to me?
I woke up this morning with a flash of inspiration and rushed to my journal to get it out of my head and on paper. My internal compass had been off. I have been equating other people's success with my failure. No, I cannot afford a Tesla... But even if I could, I wouldn't buy one because right now, a new car is not a priority. I am more excited about spending that money to get (and stay) debt free, make things and travel.
I reflected on some people I consider successful as well as why I don't feel successful and really... some of it is surface stuff but a lot of it had to do with what is actually important to me and the choices I make.
I tend not to feel successful because:
- I am not the boss. [Counter: I was the boss of my chocolate company. I am the boss of myself and how I spend my time. I could be the boss if I really wanted to start my own firm, but I don't actually think I want that. Being the boss means being responsible for every aspect of the business whereas being an employee means doing specific parts of the job... the parts I'm good at, and always having other people to bounce ideas off to come up with a better design.]
- I don't get to do interior design at work. [Counter: I left interiors because I wanted to learn how to build from the ground up. I chose a different path, it's only now, many years later, that I am learning about myself that I really enjoyed doing interiors.]
- I am constantly feeling broke, but I also have a lot of stuff. [Counter: Stop buying crap and sell the crap you don't need! Living below your means is much easier than making more money.]
- I am fat. [Counter: Stop eating junk and start exercising more intentionally and intensively! I have felt fat since puberty hit and my body stopped being slim and started having the shape of a woman instead of a child. I haven't made eating right a priority. I haven't stuck to exercise, being thrown off by the slightest change in routine. So, pick an approach and stick to it. Make a decision that being fit is what is most important and then live like it is a priority.]
- I am not conventionally attractive [Counter: The things that make people unique are what make them beautiful, there's science to prove that. Losing weight will help my natural beauty shine through. But also, doing the things that make women look beautiful by today's standards (make-up, shaving legs, jewelery, etc) are things that I am not that interested in taking the time (or money) to do! If it was important to me to be conventionally attractive I would put more effort into it. But I'm just not. And that's ok! It's not my internal compass currently. Maybe someday I will care enough to learn to do my make-up but, it's been several years and several hundred dollars trying to get myself into it and it hasn't worked so maybe it's just time to drop it. The few times I want to be done up I can just pay people who know how to do makeup to do mine. In the end that will be way cheaper than buying makeup I don't know how to use or care to learn how to use!]
- I can't afford a Tesla. [Counter: I don't actually want a Tesla. I bought a fancy bike that I'm too worried about being stolen to actually ride around anywhere I would have to park it. I have a big dog who gets things dirty and scratched up. I have looked up brand new cars that cost less than a Tesla and the sticker shock stops me from even going for a test drive. I would rather spend $40K getting a master's degree or traveling the world. I have a car that works too, with no plans to replace it until it doesn't drive anymore. Even then, I might not replace it. Uber exists. I have my fancy bike. Cars are expensive and while an electric car is better for the environment, an electric bike and being car free would be even better for the environment!]
What (I think) I value:
- A comfortable home
- Life-work balance (not working lots of overtime as the norm)
- Quality time with friends and family
- Creative endeavors and making things myself
- My community
- Travel, seeing and tasting the world
When I look at other people, what I see as success, through a painful but honest conversation with myself, is very different. There is a bit of overlap, but really it's time to pull back and reset my internal compass.
- Having money enough to do all the things and also save
- Fitness and beauty
- A happy relationship with a partner who is a good fit
- Ownership/ Entrepreneurship
- Design abilities
These are things I could have if I am willing to work on them. Comparison is the thief of joy and I will prefer to stop stealing my own joy and compare instead with my past self.
So, what has Past-Kaydee accomplished?
- Graduated high school, then college
- Got accepted to Cornell University for grad school and attended
- Got 3 of the 4 jobs I have had based on merit. The one I got by knowing someone, I kept because of merit.
- I had a successful Kickstarter. I don't consider my chocolate company a failure because I learned a lot in the process.
- I lived in NYC; Rome, Italy: Ithaca, NY and Vermont and I have built a great network of friends who now live in many places that I can visit!
- I got a dog, he is the best
- I got a cat, I gave him a good life even though our time together was short.
- I built a root cellar (with a little help, the design and detailing was all me)
- I bought a house
- I drove across the country, mostly solo.
And there is more to come, these are the things my inner compass ought to be focused on, not am I getting a Tesla.
- Living debt free (getting there and maintaining it. Paying off the house!)
- Opening a non profit Makerspace in Salem
- Being an awesome aunt to my little nephew
- Making things
- Starting my own side business (not sure what type of business yet, but there's no rush)
- Deepening relationships with friends, old and new
- More things that I can't even plan for