Watching the signs as I go
I think I'll follow, my heart
It's a very good place to start...
Vaguebooking: the act of making a Facebook post that unwittingly confuses people. (The term is coined by my pal Tim M.)
I haven't always made the best decisions in my life, and I'll always be the first to admit it. Oftentimes, bad decisions can lead to crises in your personal life, your financial life, your work life, etc., and I've got a track record to prove I haven't always followed the right signs. I was never fortunate enough to have been taught from a young age all of the dos and don'ts of making sound financial decisions. Neither of my parents were ever very good with money and so I sort of picked up right where they left off.
Unfortunately, in this 'great,' capitalistic culture of ours, we learn from an early age to covet things we don't need and are encouraged to pay for them with plastic. It's a dangerous game in which unwitting pawns (many of us!) end up so deep in holes that climbing out of them often seems like an impossible task. From when I got my first job at Sterns Department store at the age of 19, I was handed my first credit card and thus began years of bad financial decision making and the digging of a deep hole I've been fighting to get out of for pretty much my whole adult life.
I'd like to think that I am in "the know" now. In the eight years since I became single again, I've had no choice but to tighten my belt some and choose better signs as I went. But of course the inevitable car and house repairs, Christmases and birthdays, and many other unexpected expenses always seem to come up and they either gobble up what little I've managed to save or force me to take out the plastic again, leaving me still clawing to get out of that hole I began digging up so long ago.
Once in awhile, admittedly, I still lapse into bad decision-making. Shopping therapy, dinners with friends, or taking little trips are the occasional pleasures I allow myself in to escape the other problems in life, but they always leave me feeling worse about myself and of course still stuck in the mire. When you're in the situation I am in, you tend to think sometimes whether it's really worth it to scrimp and save and deprive yourself of everyday pleasures because you've got bills to pay, or just say "screw it" and enjoy. After all, who cares if I die owing money?
I've started the new year...well really the last couple of months of last year, making real progress. I'm tired of having money for one day, on pay day, and then being broke for the next thirteen days till I get paid again. I want to be able to enjoy my life a little with the decent money I do make. I want to be debt free, and I'm getting there, which brings me to the whole point of this post...
I made a Facebook post earlier in the day that went a little something like this:
Just had to make a really difficult decision, one that I probably wouldn't have made in the past, but I have to believe that it's the right one and it'll make me better off in the end.
I didn't think anything of it when I wrote it. I'd taken a short break during the school day and wanted to let out a little pride in this particular sign I followed. Little did I even realize I was vaguebooking!
Throughout the next four hours of work, my phone lit up like a Christmas tree, seemingly every five minutes. People were commenting on my post, texting me, and sending me private messages on Facebook. A lot of people thought I'd quit my job. Others were just worried that something bad had happened to me. I tried to fend off the worriers by making a second post, but to no avail:
Wow, looking at the responses to my earlier post, I can see that my vagueness caused people to think something super-serious was going on. No worries! It was just a personal decision on something that I wouldn't ordinarily make and though I'm a little disappointed, I'm also proud of myself for my ability to take control. Again...no worries.
The notices kept coming. People shared inspirational videos with me, made offers to talk, all kinds of things. Finally, I commented that I would make a blog post to explain it all and voila! Here we are.
You see, I'd actually been waiting to post here that I was going on my school's Europe trip again this spring. Last year's trip was awesome, and up until a few days ago, I would have been rejoining two of my favorite people on a brand new adventure. My participation in this year's trip had been iffy all along, but at Christmas break I submitted my information to the tour company and I was all set...or so I thought.
With tensions over the Paris terrorist attacks a short time ago, several parents expectedly pulled their kids out of the trip and so I received a call on Tuesday that I was no longer needed as a chaperone. If I still wanted to go, I'd have to pay a nominal, yet decent portion of the price in order to remain with the group on the journey. Here's where the vague post comes in...
If this had all happened just a few short months ago, I know I would've jumped on it. From the moment I was given the news, in my head I was going to pay the money and go. Something nagged at me, though. When I told my friends the news that very same evening, I could tell from their reaction that they still thought I was going to go. They know me well!
That got me to thinking about what the consequences would be. Though the amount is still a fantastic price to pay for such a cool jaunt, it was still money, precious money. Combined with what I would probably spend while I was over there, I'd be at least a few inches deeper in that hole when the trip was all said and done, and with summer fast approaching, I'd have to possibly cut, or at least curtail, some plans so that I could just survive those two months without pay.
I mulled the whole thing over during the next couple of days, not really discussing it with anyone. In the back of my head, I knew what I should do and that was to say no. And so early this morning, sometime before that Facebook post, I passed on the opportunity. Of course there were mixed emotions in the aftermath of my decision. I was...am...sad that I'm going to miss out on this year's adventure. But on the other hand, I am proud of myself that I made a decision out of character for me, and in doing so I get to stay within my forecasted striking distance of getting out of this hole. That's why I posted what I posted today.
So to all of my friends out there who showed their concern, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It makes me feel so good that so many of you genuinely care about my well-being and I am touched by you reaching out to me. I also want to apologize for my vaguebooking. I truly did not realize that you would have no idea what to make of what I wrote and would take it negatively. Yeah, it's a bummer that I won't be going to Europe this April, but at least I know that I do indeed have the mettle in me to follow a good sign when I see one, even if it makes me a little sad. Who knows, maybe this decision will bring me a little bit of confidence that I can reach goal and start living life a little more easily down the road.