Living Life With Direction

Last week, I wrote about what it meant for me to feel a lack of being liked and feeling belonging in my family and with my friends. But also the about the ways I woke from what Tara Brach calls, “the trance” of not feeling belonging. I’d like to revisit the ways in which I woke from how I was living while trying to feel approved of, to how I felt comfortable with, and approved of myself. All finally leading me to a place where I’m living my life with more self acceptance and direction.

There were a few different areas that need my attention to finally feeling acceptance of where I am in life. Many of which I’ve written about in this blog. But they were important areas for me to waking into, in order to take care of them, but also leave behind what I felt I needed to do in order to feel loved. So let’s start with the area of my life that was holding me back in the most immediate way, my budget.

Buried in Debt? No Problem, You Got This

There is a specific memory that I reflect back on every once and awhile when I think about the amount of debt I’m in. It’s of me, sitting in my bathrobe, at my desk, cup of coffee on my left and looking at all the credit cards I had on open tabs on my browser like I was watching a stock ticker. All the while I was wondering how much higher my credit score had to be in order for my credit limits to be increased.

I was also well on my way to amassing close to 100k in student loan debt, on top of the 25k I would eventually end up with on my credit cards. This was the height of me living on borrowed money. Not to mention an irresponsible way to be living my life.

Now my routine is much different. I check my account balances to make sure I have enough money for the upcoming month’s budget. And now I look forward to paying off what’s left of my student loans instead of looking for ways to increase my debt limit. Usually a cup of green or herbal tea at my side : )

Choosing to pay off my debt is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it’s taught me so many valuable life lessons. Such as how to live on a budget, how to save for my future, what it means to live within my means, how to set up an emergency fund… The list goes on. These are the important lessons that I and so many people I know never learned while becoming adults.

Willpower & Responsibility

Getting intentional with your money has the power to help you in so many other areas of living a more responsible life than just the financial sector. Such as developing a stronger sense of discipline. And it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for more direction. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m following the Dave Ramsey steps to getting myself out of debt. I’m not as dedicated as some of his followers are. But there are parts of his plan that have been especially beneficial for me and my path. For example, learning willpower and self restraint through budgeting.

Paying off debt has freed up some of my income for other living expenses while teaching me how to exercise self-control over how I manage my money. Right now all my available funds are going towards my debt. But the difference between my 700$ monthly minimum payments now and the 950$ monthly payments I used to make, is the difference between whether or not I can afford groceries for the month. And that’s kind of a big deal!

Paying off my credit cards alone freed up 250$ worth of monthly payments I would have been paying to a credit card company were I still in debt. Not to mention all the compound interest I was accruing. $250 is about the national average for a single persons monthly grocery budget. The worst part is, I didn’t really have an idea of where all my money was going. In my past, it wa most likely on alcohol and restaurants. But my standard of living hasn’t changed much since I’ve been free of credit card debt in regards to my food consumption.

Get a Side Hustle

One of the ways I’ve helped to cut down the amount of time I’ll be in debt is by picking up a second job, AKA a side hustle. This has been such a positive for me in my life in so many different ways and something that Dave Ramsey suggests doing.

My side hustle is at a homeless shelter for families. I work only eight days a month, but it will reduced the over all time I’m in debt by about two years. I’ve also been able to write this blog, organize my budget and to-do list, research recipes and put together shopping lists, as well as other opportunities for my future, all while at my side hustle. It’s also hopefully where I’ll get a letter of recommendation for grade school when I’m ready to go back. After helping me to pay back my current debt while funding my future educational expenses. Win win.

And not to mention, it’s fun. I enjoy the time I spend with the families. Watching their children run around the house and play games. The co-workers I’m getting to know. It’s been a positive experience. That being said, it’s not all sunshine and daisies. There are some days that I just don’t have it in me. This is why it’s important to work a little motivation into your routine.

What’s Your Motivation?

On the days when my alarm goes off at 5:35am, and I know I won’t see my bed until 11:30pm, I need more than the few cups of tea I drink in the morning to keep me on my feet. This is where small reminders I’ve built into my days have helped me to stay on task.

Photo Bombs

One way I do this is by having a few photos as rotating wallpaper on my phone, of the things I want for myself in life. The things I’m working towards. For example, I have a couple of photos of Adriene, from Yoga with Adrienne, to remind me that there are healthy ways of staying physically fit with support from positive mentors. I also have a few pictures of Dana from Minimalist Baker as well for much the same reasons as with Adrienne. A reminder to take care of my nutritional needs in a healthy, nourishing way.

There is also an artist’s rendition of an elf, drawing an arrow from his quiver and readying himself for a fight. This helps me to remember that it isn’t always going to be easy. Sometimes you need to prepare yourself for a fight. Not that I’m advocating for violence in anyway, but cultivating a feeling of being emotionally tough, resilient, is important for times when you feel like you want to give up and quit. Warrior II in yoga is a great way for me to embody this feeling. Taking up space with focus and intention is empowering.

Pin It

I also receive notifications from Pinterest a few times a day with new recommendations for my boards. Here is where I keep photos of what I want my future to look like. I mostly have pictures of beautiful living spaces. The house I want to build when I’m ready for that step in my life. This is a space where I can just look at something pretty, inspiring, without feeling the pressure of needing to get something accomplished immediately. It’ll take time, but I also need the time to plan.

It brings me a sense of ease while also gently reminding me of what I’m working towards. Not to mention it allows me a place to organize all of these ideas and inspiration. This, organizing, also has a calming effect on me. The same goes for cleaning as well. Any chance to bring order to something, especially when it is something beautiful, is something I hold close to me. Something special. Which brings me to what I’m doing all of this for.

Friends, the Ultimate Motivation

There are a few memories from my old life that I look back on with nostalgia. Most of them are of the times I spent with a couple of close friends at their camp in Maine. The hours spent gathered around a camp fire, with nothing to do and nowhere to be. Feeling totally at ease in the moment with good friends and good conversation.

For me, this is the reason I’m so focused on living a life with more direction. So I can make more memories like these. My friends, and those I hold close to me are my motivation. But this wasn’t always the case.

The lessons I was taught, both modeled and unspoken were, people will hurt you. And they are not to be trusted. This was, and to some extent is, how my caregivers chose and choose to live their life. And I followed in their footsteps.

I was mean and cold to people and I did this to keep them at a distance. I needed to be right about people, to avoid the uncertainty of possibly being rejected by them. So I pushed them away first. Now I do things much differently.

Reciprocating in Your Relationships

I’m now able to share more openly with those closest to me. My thoughts, feelings, ideas and interests. This is something that is so basic, so fundamental, but is avoided by so many. And it kind of blows my mind.

The ways I used to be in my friendships was one sided. I needed them to be on my terms and I always needed a buffer between us. Such as alcohol, or objectifying women. It was just too vulnerable to talk to my friends about how I was feeling. Exposing sensitivity. To be fair, I had a lot of trouble knowing what emotion I was feeling. So it would have been difficult to express them if they were open to talking. This was due to every time an emotion came near, I pushed it away. Just the same as the people in my life.

Now, sharing with others isn’t the source of fear for me it once was. For example, my employer makes a brown bread that reminds me of the happier times in my childhood. It’s also a recipe from her great, great, great grandmother. I was able to share with her that I enjoyed the bread and wanted to try and replicated it. In case she wanted to keep the recipe in her family, I didn’t ask. But she gladly offered to share her recipe with me.

This is exactly the type of reciprocation I would have run from in the past. I would have been to proud to admit that they made something that exceeded my standards and what chance there was of bonding would have been severed. Me feeling as though I was superior to others stopped me from making authentic connections with others. Not to mention it was just plain arrogant.

Healthy Helping

The same friend I used to go to Maine with and sit around his camp fire while talking for hours, has recently been doing some renovations to his house. I’ve been pitching in when our schedules align and this has been another way of building healthy bonds. I say healthy helping, because the ways I used to help others was definitely detrimental to creating enduring relationships.

My former self would help someone in need, but there was always a catch. I would usually hold it over them as though I was so gracious to be helping. Teasing them for it later, only with cruel intentions.

Or I would passive aggressively harbor a grudge for feeling as though I was making such a great sacrifice for them. But these were the relational maps I was given as a child. I was usually made to feel as though any need I had was a great injustice and cross to be born by my caregivers. I’ve come to realize that this was largely due to my caregivers having zero boundaries.

Now that I understand what healthy boundaries look like, I’ve been able to make better decisions concerning how much of myself and my resources I’m able to give. For instance, when I’m helping my friend with his renovations, I’m enjoying the time we spend together. Literally, and figuratively building something of value and worth. And that feels great for a change : )

Sounding Board

It’s also nice to have some friends you know you can talk to about anything. Those friends that no matter the topic, are down to field a call from you. Whether it’s to complain about what’s current in your life, or get some advice or a new perspective. These buddies are clutch. Like a Swiss army knife, down for whatever.

I have a couple of friends who fit this bill. I think what’s been so enriching about our relationships is, we’ve been forging our own paths together in many of the same areas of our lives where we were lacked direction caring, adult role models.

For example, there is one couple in particular that has been crucial in helping me, and each other, in learning how to handle finances responsibly. As we reach milestones or experience one of life’s lessons, we are a consistent source of support for one another as we continue to learn how to navigate these areas of our lives. If something happens, I know I can call them up and feel as though I’m being supported. Like I’m not alone.

Feeling Support = Feeling Loved & Finding Direction

And that’s what it comes down to. Feeling support, loved and belonging. So finding the right balance of self-care, care for and support from others are the elements to what makes us strong enough to live our lives with more focus and direction. They allow us to be who we really are and that’s worth more than the some of its parts. I hope you’ve found this post helpful in some way, and as always, peace & thanks for reading : )

Image Credits: “Seek-Purpose-Painting” by Justin Masterson is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Author: nolabelsliving

Social worker by day, blogger by night. I have a lot of lived experience which is why I started my blog. I was not given any direction when I started out on my journey, but have been blessed with some amazing support and guidance along the way. Just want to give back a little of what I've received : )

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: