Back when the world was still more or less okay and we could have trail running races, I got back to the start/finish from working an aid station all day. The race director asked me how it went, and I gave him a brief report. I’ve been doing aid stations for nearly two years then. At the end, I said,
“I could do this for the rest of my life and I’d be happy.”
And that was the simple truth; whenever I worked an aid station, I felt like I was born to do just that. Like I was born to help people get to the finish line and make that experience as much fun for them as possible.
Just yesterday, I was talking with my friend. Trying to get a work approval, find a job, figure out how to pay for this and that, I let out an exasperated sigh and exclaimed:
“I just want to make coffee for people, make their days better, and write stories!”
And again, it was the simple truth; I realized I wanted nothing more than to be allowed to work in a coffee shop, making people’s days a little better by giving them what they need at this ‘aid station’ the majority of our society stops at nearly every day.
From all over; social media, radios, TV, YouTube — you name it — we hear constantly about how we need to make it big. Make lots of money, own the newest car, own the newest iPhone, go on vacation six times a year, own a big house or two (or three),… do all this and then you’ll be happy. Work hard and you’ll make it and then you can be happy.
But the truth is that even if they work until their skin is sagging and their joints are falling apart, most people will never be able to make enough money for this all. Does that mean they can’t ever be happy?
After living in the United States for nearly five years, I almost fell into this trap myself. I started to obsess over money.
Sure, having enough to be able to pay for college and therefore keep my visa and my entire life as I built it would be damn nice. But besides my mental health deteriorating because I knew that this simply wasn’t going to happen, now I was also stressed out because I knew that if I just had enough money, I would be able to not lose everything and everyone that has become my home. And so I wanted more money.
I wanted more money, just as everyone on the Internet and on social media told me I needed. I wanted it, I needed it, I couldn’t be happy without it.
Luckily, I realized I fell into that trap.
It took a lot of work to get out of that mindset. It still does. Every day. But I realized that what I want isn’t money. It’s to not lose the human connections I’ve created. I want to keep making people happy and helping them get to their finish lines, providing them with a little encouragement and energy when they need it.
Sure, unfortunately, in today’s world, I will need money to be able to survive and to do so. But money is only the means towards achieving what I want, not the thing I want.
So many people fall for this. Chasing after something they don’t really want just because somebody else told them they want it.
So I urge you, my friends; don’t lose sight of what you want.
Sure, we need money. We need places to live. Sometimes we need cars to get around. But do we need mansions? Or can we be happy with cozy little homes? Do we need the newest Tesla? Or can we do with just any functional car? And maybe we don’t need a car at all and we can just rent it the few times a year we do need it.
Of course, if you’ve been dreaming about getting a Tesla — and if it’s really what you want, go for it. But please be careful to see what are your wishes, and what are the wishes of those who just want your money because they think it’s going to make them happier, perhaps living in the same lie.