“It’s not about finding out how much I’d have to make to be able to afford to be the best version of me; instead, I should be asking myself how I can be the best version of me based on what I can afford at any given time.”
This resonates with me a lot. I grew up with the privilege of living in nice neighborhoods and attending good schools, which was wonderful, but as a consequence, I now have lots of high achieving friends and acquaintances who are much more successful than I’ll ever be. They are forever blogging about their goals and self-improvement projects, and all I can ever think is “Well, geez, I’m sure a month long trip to Thailand would be great for personal growth, but I can’t even afford the Thai takeout place down the street”.
This then leads to even more stress, because all I can think about how they’re already so far ahead of me, and yet they’re the ones with the resources to further improve themselves. Sometimes I feel like they’re just going to improve themselves so much that they’re no longer even a part of the same species!
But, alas, when I think about it, I’ve improved my life over the last several years, too. I haven’t discovered spirituality in Thailand, and I don’t make any more money than I did three years ago, but things are still moving in the right direction, if only because for every year that you maintain “Getting by with a little bit extra”, the “little bit extra” starts to add up. Last year, I didn’t have to spend $40 on ornaments for my Christmas tree, because I splurged on them the year before. This year, I didn’t have to remodel my kitchen, because we ripped out the olive green countertops last year. Next year, I won’t have to save up $600 to re-paint my entire house, because I was able to do that this year, so I’ll be able to spend that $600 on a different lasting improvement. I also got some pretty nice throw pillows, so that’s another $80 that I’ll be able to spend on something else next spring. (I live in the suburbs, so my “best self” largely centers around the domestic sphere, but the same principal applies to everything else. The small improvements add up to a better life just as much as the big improvements do, they just take a little longer.)