Lifestyle, Love, Travel

The Values Most Important to Me in 2018

Like many other forward-thinking individuals this time of year, I’m spending this long New Year’s weekend reflecting on my life journey thus far.

In June 2017, I lost my job. The next 5-ish months, I was unemployed — about half of that was spent traveling domestically and internationally, and the remaining half I spent job-seeking, in a perpetual panic about my financial future.

But, SPOILER ALERT, it all worked out. And I learned a lot along the way. The last year and a half has been a formative period for me… and I wouldn’t change a thing.

All of the philosophies I’ve embraced, the habits I’ve established, the personal flaws that undoubtedly still need my attention… as I look back, I feel fortunate to have adopted these three principles, now so wholly ingrained in my thinking that they might as well be a part of me.

Money, status, and stuff don’t matter.

When I lost my job last year, it caused me to re-evaluate (nay, scorn) some of my earlier spending decisions. So much money had been wasted on material possessions that sat in my closet 364 days out of the year. I had spoiled myself on outings, on vacations, on convenience; I had treated my earnings with reckless abandon. I was slow to replenish my savings: “later,” I thought. I stopped valuing money… a realization that hits you real hard when your severance is running out and you’re on the brink of being unable to pay your mortgage.

So, I cleaned out my closet. I pawned expensive jewelry gifted by exes. I carefully considered new purchases for absolute necessity. I optimized my assets, renting my 3-bedroom house during the Arizona tourist season for profit while I downsized into a studio-sized casita.

Phoenix, AZ

Just a little bit more history: this realization didn’t exactly begin with the layoff. In 2015, I traded in my economical, reliable Toyota Camry hybrid for a top-of-the-line Infiniti G37 convertible. Never mind the 16-mpg gas mileage, my 70-mile daily round trip work commute, the cost of premium gas, and the $400/each tires, I loved the status it brought me (don’t I look fancy?! Sigh). But just one year later I gave it up for the affordable Honda Civic I currently drive. The financial burden of that status symbol wasn’t worth living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Fast forward to 2018, and I live seriously beneath my means. My income in 2018 was the highest it’s ever been, but my spending this year was the 2nd lowest in the last 6 years.

So now, when I get paid, I A) invest, B) pay bills, C) save, and D) spend what’s left, in that order — and most of the time, that means experiences, not things. I’ve come to understand: Financial freedom and experiences are far more important than possessions.

The unknown, the discomfort, the fear… it’s how I grow.

Since last fall, I’ve been putting myself out there on paper/on screen for all the world to see. Baring my thoughts, opinions, personal stories to the ever-judgmental public. It’s scary. But this is me, and I don’t shy away from the exposure anymore. If you don’t like me, you don’t have to read this. You don’t have to follow me. But on the chance that something I say or one of my experiences clicks with you, resonates with you, inspires you? That’s what I’m here for. There’s no better compliment. So I’m going to keep putting myself out there. I’m going to keep speaking my truth and sharing my mind. (I’d love it if you stuck around!)

But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. This is also my travel philosophy; chasing the unknown. On each trip, I push the boundaries a little farther. How loose can I be? How little can I plan? How can I challenge myself; how can I grow? Each trip I’ve taken has changed me irreversibly for the better, so I seek out those growth opportunities every chance I get.

I’m 33 and unmarried. But I am 100% at peace with being alone.

How do I truly feel about being single? If one word could sum it up, it’s “OM.” (Imagine me on a sandy beach, sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, fingers folded, with a look on my face of total, irrefutable acceptance.)

If you think maybe my clock is ticking and I’ll take any old Joe, you’d be wronger than wrong. In fact, my mentality about dating is more like this: I’ve waited this long for the right person. I’m not going to waste a goddamn second on someone that I’m not curious about. I’ve stopped “giving it a go” and “seeing what happens.” At any given time, I’ve no shortage of men who are showing interest or pursuing me. But if there’s just one thing that rubs me the wrong way, especially in the critical pre-dating stage, I’m outta there. There are no second chances; my time is too valuable. I’ve honed my intuition like a perfectly-tuned violin, and for that I will make no apology.

Time spent with someone who is wrong for me is time spent away from the person that is, not to mention time spent away from pursuing my hobbies and dreams. And time is something we can’t get back.

What will 2019 bring for me? More self-realizations, learning experiences, self-acceptance, and most important of all, personal growth, I’m sure. You’ll read all about it on my blog (if I haven’t lost you, yet)! 😊

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