You're all aware of the house-fire that upended my life in January of this year — but I'm not sure any of you know where I'm living now, specifically.
Well, in short: I'm living in an RV at a local RV Park.
If you would've told me this even five years ago, I would've balked at the idea, still subliminally manipulated by stigma. It's safe to assume that the first image to come to mind would've been that of a man chain-smoking in front of a stooped, weatherbeaten camper, his wife-beater yellow under his arms and his front teeth missing.
I hate admitting this to myself, but it's true — my opinion of this standard of living was, for many years of my life, warped by prejudice and misinformation. When I heard "RV Park," I would think of trailer trash. It's that simple. And it's also that simply inaccurate.
Just over five years ago, I was living in a $1M house. I had a $45,000 Mini Cooper, which sat in my driveway with a Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Audi, and Ford Raptor. My dog was $4,500, and I wore diamonds almost every day.
My life was completely different than it is now. And back then, I would've felt horrified to think that I'd someday be living the way I am today — but that's because back then, I still had a lot of serious growing to do.
Back then, I was still living the life I felt others would approve of. Back then, I stupidly concerned myself with appearances. Back then, I was manipulated into being a spineless, people-pleasing idiot who didn't know what she wanted, let alone what she stood for.
I've had "it all" and I've had "nothing" and here's what I've learned: Money is nice, but it's like a magnet for negative energy. It draws the ugly out of people like a leach does blood. It pulls in all the worst sorts of people — the toxic, vulturous sorts, who will cloud your skies until they're black and the only thing you see.
Every self-respecting leader in the self-help field might suggest that my relationship with money is slightly unhealthy, but I'd argue it's totally spot-on. I don't have an issue with money — I've got an issue with what it does to people. In fact, should I ever acquire wealth like I had five years ago, there isn't a soul on Earth that would know about it.
That's right: I'd keep it to myself, and for the most part, I'd live the way I already am: minimally, in a tiny house that's equipped for off-grid living. Though I will say, staying in an RV Park has its own big perks, which I'll certainly miss, like the fact that I've got neighbors who actually TALK TO ME and check-in on my well-being. Not to mention, they're people of like-mind who also value living minimally, with the freedom to pick up and go wherever they'd like.
Not a single person living in this little community fits the profile of "trailer trash." In fact, most of these people are wealthy as hell. They're mostly here because they've retired and are looking to embark on some big adventures, to travel freely, to live without the weight of a mortgage.
It's been fascinating to peel back my preconceived notions and ask myself, "Is the way I'm living out of fulfilling the expectations of others, or fulfilling myself?"
I can honestly say now that I'm living 100% for self-fulfillment — and while I slipped up before, it was only to satisfy a marriage that wasn't meant to last. I've never, ever been the sort who lives to please other people. Even when I was a girl, I prided myself on my blatant disregard for the rules, the system, the authorities prancing around with puffed-out chests.
Part of me still does, honestly. And I'm not saying we all should, but rather that we struggle with the temptation to please others (or at the very least, avoid criticism of others), we should start to ease ourselves in the direction of our best self-interests.
Not somebody else's, but our own, and sometimes that requires what I've just done: peeling off and away previously held preconceived notions, and challenging ourselves to try something new, venture into foreign territory, to stand up for ourselves.
I'm thirty-one years old and own less than I ever have.
And yet I've never had so much.