livin la vida broka, or 'skint: things that i have learned'

i am currently on the last of an 8-leg journey home. i left london at 11.30 this morning, and i’ll arrive in glasgow just before 10 tonight. it will, on completion, have involved a bus, an overground, two tube rides, a coach journey, a walk, and three trains. i’m doing this because i’m skint. 
for the first time in my life i am really, genuinely, skint. never before have i felt like i’m living day to day, never before have i had to sell my belongings to get some extra cash, never before have i been permanently, exhaustingly worried about money. but never before have i been trying to achieve something that i care about with every fibre of my being.
i’m broke because i’m chasing something bigger than money. i had a job. i worked a minimum of 45 hours a week - usually closer to 55/60 - and i earned £7 an hour. to manage my team of 6 staff, to do all visual merchandising, to do the buying, to do the banking, to do the cleaning, to stay til 11pm and do the windows, to go to trade shows, to go to the wholesalers, even - once - to fix a chip in our laminate floor using a DIY joinery kit and google. i was underpaid, under-appreciated, and overworked. 
and now? now i’m not. yes, i’m exhausted. yes, i’m stressed. and, yes, i’m broke. but it’s for something more. it’s so that my life no longer revolves around a paycheque on the 28th of every month. it’s so that i no longer have to answer to someone who wants me to give my all while giving nothing in return. and experiencing an empty bank account, an overdraft, a constant knot in your stomach, has been better for my growth as a person than my guaranteed income ever was. 
november and december consisted of a tin of soup just about every night for dinner, so as to afford christmas. i cannot remember the last thing i bought myself that wasn’t a necessity. i have learned to budget. i have stopped thinking about money as anything more than what i will use to pay my bills. if my phone bill can be paid, if my spotify subscription can be paid, if my contact lenses can be paid for, if my website charges are covered, then i no longer care. and that is where i have become one of the lucky ones. money has lost its power for me. it has become that which covers the bases and allows me to have the foundations of my life. the rest is up to me. if i had a million pounds in the bank, i could not learn to be happy without. now i have no choice. now i look to what matters, what is important, what i have power over. 
when you can’t afford to go to the cinema because you’re bored, you force yourself to be the solution to your boredom. you dig out the paint set you bought months ago but never got round to using. you find that book you started but never got round to reading. when you can’t afford to go out and get drunk, you discover who you can have just as much fun staying in with. when you can’t afford to get the bus just because you’re feeling lazy, you realise how much more of the city you see by walking through it. when you can’t afford to buy new clothes, you pull out things you’d forgotten about from the back of your wardrobe and remember how cool af they are. when you’re crying at 1am because you feel like a failure, you finally understand that the person who’ll hold you close and say ‘we’ll get through it together’ is worth more than new clothes and restaurant meals. 
i’m not telling you to quit your job and chase your dream and that we’ll all be successful and it’ll be worth it in the end. maybe i’ll pack it all in a few months down the line because the pressure gets too much. (i probably won’t). but i am thankful that i did. and that i’m struggling, and skint, and jealous of old me who used to spend £££ on agent provocateur 'just because'. money has come to be considered a currency of success. but - here’s the secret - it ain’t. the talent you have does not equate to what’s in your bank account. and that is what i have learned. 
people are respected because they have money. because of what they earn. what car they drive. how often they post pics of new clothes on instagram. but when you stop chasing money, and start chasing something more, it stops impressing you. it no longer makes you feel inferior. its power is lost. it sucks being strapped for cash. it sucks having to watch every single penny, and turn down invitations, and stay in every night. but it makes you more appreciative of the people around you who couldn’t care less about your overdraft and student loans and maxed credit cards. it makes you more respectful of those in the same position as you. it makes you reevaluate what matters, and what you care about, and what you’re willing to sacrifice for the promise of a brighter, more fulfilled, future. 
your bank account doesn’t dictate your talent. your debts don’t invalidate your determination. your wealth doesn’t equal your worth. 
keep killing it. 

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