Join the Conversation: November Edition

When you were 18, what did you imagine your future would look like? How close does your life today come to that vision?

Fear.  Certainty. Uncertainty. Excitement.  Expectations.  Assumptions.  This is us at 18.  We took certain things for granted, not knowing how to get there.  We feared a lot of things that we would survive.  We wanted to be grown up without having a clear idea of what that meant.

“Life is messier than I thought it would be at 18,” says Blackberry Honey. I think we can all agree on that.

Thank you for letting us take a glimpse at the 18 year old you.  We hope you enjoyed her visit.  What was so amazing about all your answers was how some of you expected certain truths and how others were afraid of those same truths, and that really, there is no conflict in that for me.  And the ones who were afraid, I think are less so now. And the ones who were excited, who expected certain things, while they may not have panned out exactly as you thought, here you are as Defining Wonderland says, “appreciating the magic that comes with an uncertain future,” or as Cécile says living a “richer, better, more exciting life”.

As for me, I was definitely a fearful, terrified 18 year old who doubted if anyone would actually give her a job and pay her enough to live off of, who doubted her talents enough to give up on a few of them.  Who had no clue how to get anything done.  Who had never really had a boyfriend and thought no one would love her.  Reading your comments, I couldn’t help but envy those of you who knew back then that there would be employment and education and love and family and travel and friends and fulfilling work.  That kind of faith you might now look back on and call naïve, but I applaud it.  I wonder how much less anxious I might have been, if I could have relied on that.

And at the same time, I think to have seen me at 18, you wouldn’t have known about all that fear. I hid it well under youthful fraught enthusiasm.  I left home, went abroad, worked hard like you, taking lots of jobs, some crappy, some not.  I had boyfriends, and friends, and adventures.  Maybe because of the fear, I was desperate to seize whatever opportunities came by.  La Z, your fear made you want to hold on tight to what you had; my fear made me keep on running to the next thing. Right beyond the border.

If I’d known my own worth, I might not have made so many mistakes, been so scared, but then I might not have been so daring either.  I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today. And when I look back at all that fear, compared to how life has unfolded, I’m a little abashed for my insecurity, proud and in wonder for how far I’ve come, and terribly grateful.

Lisamarielawler said she had a vision “of a high powered job, equally high powered husband, a big house, a few kids and a money tree in the backyard. These are the things I thought were expected of me for my life. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted for me.”  I think that’s something we can all relate to, that that’s what made the whole growing up process so complicated, fearful, thrilling.  And I love how you have all come to terms with what it is you want now.  Your community, your family, your relationships.  A lot of you mentioned money and work as part of the 18 year old plan, but as I read about you now, I hear more about relationships and the people you care about and cherish.  How did we overlook that at 18?

Of course, as many of you pointed out- life today isn’t a whole lot more certain.  But a little older, and a little wiser, we’ve realized that (again to quote Jessica) “part of the fun is figuring it out… Life is not supposed to be easy and the older [we] get, the more [we] accept and appreciate that.  Or, as Stephanie said, “things happen that you never would have thought to expect and sometimes they take you in directions you never would have dreamed. And to be honest, I kind of like that uncertainty.”

L says she “still holds out hope that I might one day have it all… but until then I’m learning to live with, and appreciate the things that I do have, the things that I got half right, the mistakes I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned, the wrinkles I’ve earned…”

And this is what grown up looks like.

I’d like to close with one final thought.   Polka Dot Palace said something that really got me thinking: “I can’t help but feel that I have let down my younger self somehow, that I have put too many of her dreams in a drawer, promising to come back to them later. Maybe it’s time for “later” to be “now.”

YES.  There are dreams that deserve to be pulled out of the drawer, (like dancing, Flapper Pie!) dreams which deserve to be pursued and while our older selves now know it may not be fool proof, what have we become wise for if not for this?

Once again, thank you for all your responses. I’m happy to report that Claire Elizabeth Scott has won our random chocolate draw!  Claire: dark, milk, with nuts, with bits of cookie?  Traditional or daring?  Shoot us an email at mothersugarcollective@gmail.com and let us know what takes your fancy and where to send it!  As for everyone else, who knows when the next giveaway might be??

But for now, are you ready for next month’s question?  Since the holidays are coming up (faster and faster every year) and we’ll inevitably be forking over money for love, charity, and goodwill toward all, we’d like to ask:

What was the best money you’ve ever spent?

 Comments welcome below until December 19!

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8 thoughts on “Join the Conversation: November Edition

  1. The best monies I ever spent was when I start investing for my future and retirment at 25 years old:) I never could have imagined at 18 years of age that I would raise my first nephew for the 1st 8 months of his life and almost lose my mother a year later. Great Post – thanks for sharing! Happy Monday:)

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  3. My father is, let’s say, cautious with money. He has enough but holds it tightly and rather fearfully, stressing the importance of sound financial decisions and very prudent fiscal planning. (He’s an auditor, so.) When I was young, I saved every penny I ever earned, had a savings account as soon as the bank would allow it, horded babysitting cash and put away my allowance when my sister went to the Texaco station to spend hers on Chuppa-Chups and Sour Patch Kids and Melona Bars.

    I’ve only very recently discovered that all financial decisions don’t have to revolve around saving the maximum possible number of dollars. I’d have to say that the best money I’ve ever spent I spent tentatively and almost against my own will (plane tickets to Spain when I couldn’t really afford them to attend a completely unforgettable wedding, insanely overpriced cocktails at The Plaza before moving away from lifelong friends, five months rent for an apartment two hours away from a house I already own so that I could be in a place that makes me happier and more sane). In the end, I’d never trade those experiences (and that sanity) for the fifty or two hundred or (yikes) more dollars I could’ve saved by staying put.

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  6. I am so ridiculously careless with money that I have a hard time coming up with the BEST money I’ve ever spent, but often I think (bows head in shame) it’s been on clothes and long, boozy meals. The clothes b/c I am of the philosophy that you can buy a $200 sweater if you wear the bejesus out of it, and that this is worth much more than buying 5 crappy $20 shirts that you wear once. And as for the boozy meals — time with friends around food and wine is the best money spent because the conversations you get around those tables are just what makes being alive make just a little bit of sense.

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  8. When I read how other women answered this on Oprah, I was intrigued by the answers. It ran the whole gamut from the ‘little black dress that makes me feel like a million dollars’ to ‘raising my children’ to ‘IVF’. It got me thinking not so much about what money buys you initially, but rather, what it affords you in the greater scheme of life. My best spends include a way too expensive watch for my husband- it was out of my first bonus. It wasn’t about the bling but it was about me asserting a certain kind of financial independence, and it was that I was able to do it so happily for someone else, rather than myself. Or a trip to Washington, bought last minute from Europe to see my grandfather several days before he died. Or for a crazy holiday that I know I may never take again. Or yes, for IVF (though it is mostly covered here in Belgium). Or maybe the first item of baby clothes- for what that represented, what that allowed me to feel and admit. Or to fly to see a friend who was very sick with an eating disorder graduate high school. The list goes on. But it’s always not the item itself that is of value, but what it represents, what it enables you beyond the dollar amount.

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