A Version of Success

I’ve never had my own bed. I’ve never walked naked from the living room to the bedroom. I’ve never spent all day cooking a full meal or reading a good book on the sofa. I’ve never had a place to call my own. For years I’ve felt deeply embarrassed of not having my own home. I’ve been angry and I’ve lashed out and I’ve felt sorry for myself on more than one occasion.

I’ve always desired my own space. I’ve lived with relatives for my entire life and while that gave me an opportunity to not shell out a cent for accommodation, it has started to weigh heavy on my spirit. I want to be able to create my own routine. I want to come and go when I like, to put on a light switch and take it off when I want to, to spend more than 30 minutes in the shower if I choose to, to not feel the need to put things back exactly where I found it each and every time because someone else would be inconvenienced.

I want to surround myself with my favourite things. I want the thrill of being surrounded by all my favourite books and magazines, storing my albums, souvenirs and items that bring back fond memories, and keeping them in an orderly and easily reachable position.

I want a permanent address. I’ve moved eight times, from one living situation to another. I’ve had to use these “borrowed addresses” on bank statements and government documents. I want to be able to travel somewhere and feel like I have an actual place to come back to, not just a place to camp at and then move again.

I don’t want anyone directly next to me. I always thought it would be fun to live in a tall building with people next door who you eventually become friends with. I still feel like I might enjoy that one day, but I want the freedom to be as loud as I can when I want to and I don’t want to worry about parking space.

I want to host. I’ve been a host everywhere except at my own home. It would be wonderful to host the party at the place I have turned into my own, with guests seated in chairs that I picked out myself, around the dining table that I chose.

Considering all of the above, I am at the point of deciding whether I should purchase or rent my living space.

I often hear that buying a home is an investment – a financial investment, an investment in your kids’ future and a definitive representation of success in society. But is it for me? Factor in that no kids are involved, home ownership being a consistent additional monthly expense with bills and maintenance, and of course my current age, is it really worth it for me to spend years to own something that I will not live long enough to fully enjoy? Can I get the same lifestyle if I were to rent rather than purchase a home? How do you even manage cash flow as a homeowner?

When I was sixteen my uncle passed away. We weren’t particularly close but his death was the first passing I had experienced and it was one I will always remember. Perhaps most startling to me was the fact that at the age of fifty, my uncle was just completing his new home for his family, but he did not get to spend a single night in it. Recently, another relative passed on, this time, a dedicated family-man with two very young kids. He was overworked, but committed to building a home that never broke ground. These instances have only solidified my belief in that home ownership is not the ultimate measure of success as many of us would like to think. Instead, we need to take time to live today and in this very moment.

Owning my own home could facilitate a lifestyle I would truly enjoy – but I also want to direct my money, time and energy into what’s most important to me – which is experiencing life in the NOW. A home would eat away at all those things and leave me with less power to choose how I spend; it would be distracting to get caught up in things that don’t really matter – like upgrades and renovations and décor. If I were to rent, I could live lighter and not be tied down to material things, enjoying my life to the fullest while I am healthy enough to be able to do so.

I have often toyed with finding my version of success and what it comes down to is – being happy with myself. For the most part, I live a pretty decent life. I earn an income, I pay my bills, I read alot so that I can engage in most topics and I give back to my community in several forms. But it is never enough. People want more and they are not afraid to judge you by their own standards. Their version of success is measured by what you own rather than who you are and to own your own home is the ultimate test of being a successful human being rather than gratitude, integrity, value, persistence and loyalty. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to achieve comfort but not everyone has to travel the same path and definitely not at the same time.

Above all else, we all want to be successful. Being financially successful is about making financial decisions that are important to you and not following someone else’s path because you think it’s what you should do. We all have the power and the choice to define, achieve and live our version of success.

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life YOU’re proud to live. – Anne Sweeney

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be a thought-provoking opinion and entertainment piece. It is not meant to solicit advice is any way, shape or form.
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