Ms. Fibidie takes no delight in her current situation.
And that’s about enough of referring to myself in 3rd person.
I take no delight in my current situation. I DO take delight in having a problem to solve. If I was a cynical person I might even suspect I got myself into this pickle because I needed a good problem to solve. It’s just so damned juicy and irresistible. Still, there are easier ways to test one’s mettle than by completely fucking up one’s prospects for the future.
But here we are.
Let’s take stock of my situation so we have a good baseline for improvement.
Salary: I earn about $140,000 per year, plus a bonus of about $10,000.
401(k): It is at about $60,000 right now.
Debt: It is also at about $60,000 right now, broken down as follows:
Vehicle #2: $15,086 owed
401(k) Loan #1: $17,145 owed
401(k) Loan #2: $29,209 owed
Vehicle #1: It’s mine, all mine!
As you can see, there has been some serious dumbassery afoot in my grasp on financial responsibility. Even worse, this has been in the last couple of years after discovering Mr. Money Mustache. I really have no excuse, and will duly flog myself later.
The 401(k) loans were to pay off expenses for starting a business a couple of years ago. I had high hopes, but in retrospect I know it wasn’t well thought out (ya think?!). It exhibited a pattern I’ve struggled with all my life:
Me: OMG, I have an AMAZING idea! I could really make it work!
Also me: You always do this. You get all excited, then go off half-cocked and end up with a big mess to clean up later.
Me: Yeah, but…
Also me: No. Just, no.
Me: But this time it will be DIFFERENT!
Also me: Oh, okay. Have fun.
It isn’t quite like that, but close enough. This, folks, is what a hypomanic episode looks like. I’m pretty sure it will be impossible for me to be honest about how I got here without being honest about some of the obstacles I’ve come up against during my life. Mental illness is one of them. Bipolar depression, primarily, but there is the occasional hypomanic episode that typically looks like me getting all grandiose about an idea, spending assloads of money, and then waking up with a hell of a hangover.
And that hasn’t been my only challenge. Let’s save all of that for another day. I know I’m not the only person who struggles with mental illness and a host of other challenges great and small, and if you are finding yourself in a situation like mine, that is to say, you are facing the later years of your career with very little to show for it, I feel the odds are high that you’ve faced some challenges as well.
Maybe it was an illness, physical or mental or both. Medical bills are devastating, and emotional and behavioral health take a toll on you no matter how high-functioning your are. Mistakes are made.
Maybe it was a relationship, or two, or three, or four. Maybe there were disagreements about money. Maybe it’s hard to NOT take care of other people. Saying “no” is a skill, and it’s pretty damned hard to save money if you can’t do it.
Maybe it was children. Maybe they were sick. Maybe they had special needs. Maybe there were many children. Maybe you ended up with other people’s children. Children, my friend, are NOT cheap.
Maybe it was other members of the family who had extraordinary needs. And as much as you want to be with them, as much as you love them and want to take care of them, you are left with dread and uncertainty about your future.
Maybe it was a divorce. Look no further for financial mayhem than a divorce. It’s hard on the bank account, especially if there is a protracted custody dispute. I should know, I’ve had three. (I’m taking a gracious failure bow right now, because what else can I do at this point?)
Maybe it was relocation. Chasing jobs around the country, or around the world. Moving for family. Moving for health.
Maybe it was business. Your own business or your employer. Even the best of businesses find themselves in dire situations that result in reduced wages, time lost, or even entire career changes. The 2008 crash was hard, folks, I know. I was a lucky one. And look what I did with my good fortune.
So whatever situation YOU faced during your life, however you arrived at this point where you find yourself wondering whether it’s too late, let me make one thing clear: I am in no position to judge. Moreover, it isn’t my right to judge you, and neither is it anyone else’s.
I might poke fun at you, as I poke fun at myself (I mean SERIOUSLY!), but I won’t judge you. We are all here in this life doing the best we can. We all come equipped with our own special set of abilities and flaws. That’s okay. The important thing is that we get to decide who it is we want to be, and then go be that.
Here we are. Let’s decide what comes next.