Happy Friday, Frugal Farmer friends! Sorry I’ve been so MIA this last couple of weeks. When you live on a farm with self-sufficiency as a goal, the arrival of spring and summer means the arrival of a LOT of work. We’re getting the garden in, chopping wood for next winter (the wood stove will be installed in July at the latest – WOOHOO!) and catching up on all of that big cleaning of bedding, winter gear, etc., that I couldn’t do until recently since we couldn’t hang stuff on the clothes line due to our ridiculously long winter. Add that in with finishing up home schooling, caring for farm animals, and helping my parents search for senior living communities, and that means a whole lot of busy. Rick’s been working 10-11 hour days every day too, and although we’re working hard on finding down time, rest these days seems to be highly evasive. Therefore, we are planning on trying to simply relax for a good chunk of the weekend. Well, part of the weekend, anyway. 🙂
Ok, now that my babbling is finished, I wanted to talk to you a bit today about a subject that has become increasingly near and dear to my heart: the tendency we humans have to give a crap about what other people think of us.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life after nearly 47 years, it’s of the dangers of caring what other people think. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t suggest you go around doing whatever you want, whenever you want, regardless of the feelings and well-being of those around you. To the contrary, I’m suggesting that you do what’s best for yourself and your family, but also regardless of the feelings of those around you.
I’m not sure exactly why, but many people LOVE to have opinions about how others run their lives. They have this idea in their head that it’s their business. And most all of us have, at least on some level, a fear of that judgment of others.
In the financial world, this is called “Keeping up with the Joneses”. We hear somebody judge Joe down the street because he drives a (gasp!!) decade-plus old car, and then we feel like a failure because our car isn’t shiny and new. Or we hear the neighbors talking about how “uncool” it is that Mary’s kids are always walking around in garage-sale clothes and bottom of the line tennis shoes, and then we feel the urge to run out and buy designer clothes for our kids, lest they not fit in at school.
Or we overhear the snob at dance class talking about somebody’s (or our own) house/purse/clothing/neighborhood or whatever being sub par, and we start to question ourselves and worry about whether or not we might be perceived as being “sub par”.
This house of lies is also readily available in the media and marketing sector of life. All of the “cool” people on TV, whether it’s a celebrity, a sports figure or just the random guy/gal on the latest beer commercial, have much more awesome lives than you and I do, simply because they eat/drink/wear/drive/own this, that or the other thing.
Friends, I’m here to tell you that it’s all a big bunch of CRAP.
I know, because we lived that life for years, and among other things, it was the biggest money mistake we made. We lived in a place where what you wore, where you lived, what you drove, what you looked like, and what you did, be it activities, vacations, social gatherings or whatever, mattered immensely. And our experience isn’t the exception, it’s the rule, at least here in America. We live, by and large, in a society where people judge and accept/reject us based on how we stack up to the media’s standards of success vs. failure.
We didn’t see it or realize it, or, maybe we did and we just though that this was normal, until we left suburbia for the “isolation” of country living. Suddenly, it was as if we got to look at the world as if it were in a giant aquarium. Because we were, by and large, away from everybody, we got to see life from the outside looking in. And we learned that it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks about your decisions.
1. It’s simply their opinion. Why do we care SO much more about opinion than we do about fact? Why do we care what people’s opinion about what our material life looks like, but yet not care about the fact that we are in a financial hellhole? Isn’t the well-being of our family’s or our own finances more important than living up to somebody else’s expectations of what OUR lives should look like?
2. Trends/opinions/lifestyles are fleeting. They’re fickle, just as fickle as weather in the Midwest. One day you’re cool for having Nike tennis shoes, the next day you’re “uncool” for having Nike tennis shoes. One year you’re popular in the view of the neighbors, and the next year, for who knows what reason, you’re shunned. One year your Lexus is the coolest car on the block, the next year Lexus’ are “out” and everyone’s driving BMWs. If you’re intent on living up to everyone else’s opinion about what is cool/right/wrong/bad/good, let me tell you, you’re going to have a pretty stressful life ahead of you, always staying on top of the ever-changing rules of status and success.
3. People come and go. Those people that you care SO much about their opinion; who are they – truly – to you?? Why is their opinion so God-almighty important? What makes you think that they’re so much better/smarter/cooler than you that their opinion about how you live your life should be valued? Really! I promise you: if they really give that much attention and time to being so concerned with what everyone is wearing/driving/living in/doing, they’re the LAST person that will ever be there for you when you really need them. They’re too damn self-centered to really care what’s happening in your life.
4. Short-term thinking will never get you as far as long-term planning. Constantly making your decisions based on today’s trends/opinions/desires is like a dog chasing its tail: it will get you nowhere real fast. It’s time to start thinking, big-picture and long-term, about what YOU want out of life. I mean what you really want. Is having the latest fashions and fitting in with the “in crowd” really that important to you, or is financial security and peace a more inviting dream?
My dear friends, you deserve better. Don’t make the money mistake of settling for basing your life decisions and your spending decisions based on what the opinions of others are. Instead, enjoy the freedom of making your life and your spending decisions based on what is truly the best decision for yourself and/or your family. It may be difficult at first to stick out from the crowd, but when you’ve achieved your goals and dreams, you’ll be glad you chose to swim upstream.