We’re going to take a minor detour from the regular schedule of things and talk about something I’ve been seeing a lot of recently. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve come across a surprising amount of news articles, blog posts, and social media posts about two things that are just driving me crazy and simultaneously making me realize I have to just laugh at all this because it is so short sighted and just plainly misguided! Here are those topics:
The first misconception is that we can have a normal life.
All the new content I’ve seen about having a normal life is touting that none of us are getting a normal life and this is a tragedy of the time, and either society is to blame or we are individually responsible for our own lives not being normal. Either way, it only seems to be that these people conclude that someone is at fault and needs to be responsible for everything being so screwed up! It’s not like this is totally catching me off guard, but I’m curious at the seemingly sudden influx of this type of mentality. So, here’s my take on all of that.
First off, let’s back up a second, and if you’re in the same line of thinking as these other content creators, please don a face mask and step behind the plexiglass wall while I blow up this argument(Mythbusters style)…haha. But seriously, what is a normal life? What does it consist of? What is not present in a normal life? What clothes are you wearing, where in the world are you, how rich are you, who is with you? Imagine this normal life you have idealized in your head. Do you really think everyone has the same exact conceptualization of a normal life as you? If you do, I hate to break it to you, but I think you’re wrong! Here’s why.
Life is a special thing. We’re all experiencing it at the same time, yet not one of the 7.6 billion people on this planet are experiencing the same thing as you. Not today, not ever. Not even the unimaginable number of humans that existed before us or the ones to come after us! We all came from a different set of parents, we all grew up in different towns, at different points in time, with different neighbors, friends, leaders, and enemies. But, despite these significant differences, many of us have a lot in common. At least more than our governments want us to believe. Ultimately, most of us are after somewhat similar ideals. The interesting part about that though is what you consider to be ideal is likely different from my own ideal situation. Maybe they both involve us living comfortably in a neighborhood we like with loyal friends and family, a job that you’re proud of, and maybe even with a perfect spouse. But my version of that is probably not the same picture that you just imagined.
My point being, yea, we all want what we perceive to be a normal life. One without mind boggling illnesses, financially devastating mistakes, emotionally draining jobs or relationships. But, that’s not always reality. And it sure as heck isn’t the same thing as everyone else. So what’s wrong with our idea of normal, and why even care?
Well, ultimately, you and I aren’t seeking “normalcy”, instead we are after a life without negative surprises. One where you still have a job tomorrow, and your house is still yours. One where a family member or friend doesn’t mysteriously disappear forever. This “normal” that we have been deceived into thinking we want, doesn’t really exist! I could tell you that society just created it as a mental escape, or your government is telling you what’s normal so you “behave”, but really, it doesn’t matter what the source of this illusion is. What matters is we recognize it as an illusion and instead replace it with very real and achievable goals. Ones where you can be happy, the same as Maurice in Italy, Mohammed in India, and me in the USA. Location and details are just the individualization of our unique goals..
So stop telling yourself that you’ll have a normal life someday, because you won’t! I mean, look at my life. I grew up with a great family, 3 siblings, and plenty of relatives around us who have been a blessing. I enlisted in the military thinking it might be what I’d do for the next 20+ years. Little did I know that 3 ½ years later I’d be medically retired having gone through 5 major surgeries, countless hours of physical therapy and counseling, and still be paying the price for those injuries that seemingly just don’t want to heal properly. Then I get married to the most amazing woman ever, I bring her back home, go to college and do pretty good, I get an internship that goes phenomenally and ultimately leads to me landing a job that I consider to be a very satisfying career long job with an incredibly upbeat and encouraging employer. Then less than a year into the job I’m being put into a part-time status and ultimately into a medical leave of absence because it appears that a medical procedure basically compromised my health. And now almost 5 months later, I’m still struggling to heal and regain my health, potentially being in a position where I could stand to lose my job if the absurdly large team of doctors I’ve seen can’t figure out what the hell happened to me. Point being, this isn’t normal…but at the same time…no one can say that it is. Normal is nothing more than a fantasy. Life happens uniquely one way for me, and an entirely different way for you.
So please, stop pursuing “normal”. Instead, live your life! Accept what comes your way and make the best of every scenario…even the shitty ones. I have a feeling that the future version of yourself will thank you for hanging in there and staying committed to seeing this life through.
The second misconception is that there is no bad financial advice.
Or that any of us can give good financial advice on every aspect of managing money. Even Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents just made a post showing how much bad advice she has observed recently. That skill, giving specific and individual financial advice should be reserved for the professionals who are adequately trained and comfortable giving such life altering recommendations. Sure, you might be thinking, “hey you, running a blog largely about personal finance, doesn’t that just hurt you to say that you’d potentially be sharing bad advice or that you aren’t going to give advice”? Well, if that were the case, then yes, it would be hurting me. But, here’s the thing…I’m not. I really try not to give individual-specific advice about your money. One, usually I wouldn’t be getting the full picture of what’s going on, so by default, I could be missing a critical piece of evidence that would sway my opinion. I may make a comment to some folks about a particular decision, because I do have opinions about a lot of financial choices we face. But here’s the other thing. I’m not professionally trained in personal finance. I could potentially pursue that down the road, but right now it’s not a reality. So, knowing that what I say about money, what I do with mine, and what you could do with yours, please remember this…it is my personal opinion…that’s it! I am not guaranteeing that if you do the same thing as me that you will have the same results. It could be worse, or hell, it could be 5 times better. I don’t get paid to dole out individualized financial advice. As interesting and potentially lucrative as that could be, that’s not what I’m wanting right now. Instead, what I will do is make somewhat generalized observations about my experience with money and life especially as to how that could maybe relate to your money and life. As such, I have a field of topics that I feel more comfortable with and will more readily share my experiences with those. There are others that I have very little, if any, comfort in sharing because I know significantly less about those and I could have just experienced something entirely based on luck.
So what am I suggesting you take away from this?
- No matter the source, take every suggestion you hear (whether related to money or not) with a grain of salt. Think about it, process it, and only then act on it if you feel motivated to do so.
- If you are listening to financial advice, please understand the difference and recognize whether someone is giving generalized non-individual advice or if someone is directly telling you what to do with your money. The only people that should be telling you exactly what to do with your money are those that you’re paying for that service.
- Always, always, always, use your head! Just because one person…schmuck or scholar…says something to you or about you. You should verify and ensure the accuracy of that information. Every piece of advice you get has a unique face value, but sometimes that face value does not match the true value. It’s ultimately up to you how valuable you treat that.
Has anyone else come across a lot of content about these topics lately? Any opinions or unbelievable stories?! Otherwise, happy Tuesday everyone. As part of my frugality, I’m off to try a new pizza dough recipe for dinner! If I can nail this, I’ll be spending up to 300% less on this than my favorite local pizza! Here’s to hoping it goes smoothly.