When I was looking to move a few months ago, I was told that I’d be stupid to rent again. This pressure came from parents, colleagues, even friends of the same age. Not wanting to be stupid and make bad financial decisions, I tried to buy. In fact, I was ready to tack another 300k of debt onto my already existing student loans, empty my bank account and rack up my credit cards to not be stupid. Toss in the fact that a 300k loan in Massachusetts will only get you a fixer upper that may not even be move-in ready and voila! I’d found the perfect formula for bankruptcy.
So, I decided to be stupid and rent again. And I had to defend this decision to so many people in my life. The one thing I found that got people to stop asking was to answer their question with a simple response: I can’t afford it. People have no problem telling us what we should do with our money, yet they clam up and get uncomfortable when we get specific about our financial situations. Enter, irony.
It’s true what they say: once you hit your late twenties, you suddenly start to feel this intense pressure to get to the next phase of your life. While this is a tale as old as time, the pressure we’re getting to make these big decisions before we’re ready is like a virus. The ‘when I was your age” cliche pays no respect to the fact that millennials are making less in their 20’s than baby boomers were, while paying 15% more in rent. Tack on the fact that student debt has increased by 150% and that housing prices were 3x cheaper back then, and we’ve found our unrealistic expectations.
A lot of us have put ourselves through college and into immense debt because that’s what society told us to do. We chose a career path and dove in head first because the clock was ticking and our student loan payments were about to start. We bought or leased new cars, because we needed reliable transportation to our jobs and it wasn’t socially acceptable to drive a junker anymore. Outside of this work, we began to chase something that would make us feel unique, because we grew up being told we were all special and social media makes it look like everyone truly is living their best lives; except us. So we’d travel and buy expensive things and post it to social media, looking for a little validation from our peers. Then we’d hit an age where society rears it’s ugly head again and says “excuse me, but it’s time for the next step in your life now. Oh, you’re not there yet? Everyone else is…”
Anddd the crippling anxiety sets in.
Maybe you’re thinking “That doesn’t happen to me. That’s not how I live” and maybe you’re right. But for most of us (myself included) we fight off these feelings and thoughts, but they always find a way to sneak back in when they’re least welcome. This pressure causes us to make decisions that we’re not emotionally or financially ready to make, but we do it because there’s a little nagging voice in the back of our minds telling us that ‘it’s time’.
So, what’s my point? Do you, boo boo. The pressure we put on ourselves and each other is so unnecessary, and it’s honestly not worth the fucks we give it. We need to stop doing things to not be “stupid”, but instead move to the next step only when we’re ready and we truly want it. Life is too short to march to the beat of someone else’s drum, and I bet you won’t regret making your own music at this point in your life. *metaphorical mic drop*