Monday, December 26, 2011

Irrational fears

Most of the time, when I think about getting older, I get excited. I think life gets better as I get older, and this is from personal experience.

Then there are other times during which I feel irrationally scared. I think about how potentially complicated life can become and I am not so sure that I have the ability to handle all of that.

Two things that come to my mind - one is love and the other is money.

A trend that I have slowly noticed is this: dating becomes more difficult as you get older. A lot of people say that in your twenties, you get a lot of attention. In your thirties, you get less attention. Because most of the attention is focused on those who are in their twenties. Because they look more youthful. Because in your thirties, you start showing signs of aging. Your body starts deteriorating and showing signs of years of abuse that you've done to it - excessive alcohol assumption, excessive fried food consumption, lack of exercise etc etc etc.

Oh, this lack of attention thing, by the way, applies to women only. So a lot of people say, when you are in your twenties, take advantage of the attention. Pick your potential partner - the best from the pack - and then aggressively pursue him, love him and marry him, and hopefully live happily ever after.

Of course, when I think about this rationally, this is all a whole lot of bull shit. No one can decide when to fall in love and with whom to fall in love. Maybe you can sort of influence the latter, but the former is often totally unexpected. You can be as aggressive as you want to be in your twenties, but if Cupid still keeps his arrows to himself, then well, too bad. There is an element of serendipity in life that one just cannot quite control. Does that sound irrational to anyone? Maybe it is, but I am not sure there is another way of explaining it.

In any case, no matter what age you find love, be happy that love has found you. Because you are one of the lucky ones. Be happy with what you have, and enjoy love while it sticks around. Enjoy it for what it is today regardless of what sort of promises it brings tomorrow, or what you think will happen tomorrow.

Second thing is about money. I swear I don't think about money that often - well, not in this context anyway - but one thing that scares the shit out of me is bankruptcy. I don't know what one does to get into such a situation, but I sure know that I am going to do whatever it takes so that I am not in that position. I think this is because I have been reading personal finance blogs - for some reason, the ones that I come across are those individuals who have successfully paid their debts. I hardly ever see any blogs who advised people not to get into debt in the first place.

My relationship with money is simple - I earn it, I spend it. And I spend all of it. I spend most of it on myself (aka saving). Then I spend it on my lifestyle (living expenses - bills and the like). Then I spend it on the people I love. There goes all of my paycheck. I do think about it in terms of earning and spending, and not so much about earning, spending and saving. Because I think it is simpler to think about it in terms of earning and spending only. What you earn, you spend. What you don't earn, don't spend. This is why I prefer not to borrow money - because (1) I have not earned it, and therefore (2) I can't spend it without guilt. If you want to spend more, then earn more first. Ask me in 10 years time if this frame of thinking still works.

Maybe bankruptcy is not the only thing that scares me - it is more like not having enough money. I budget for almost every category imaginable (and the rest goes to "miscellaneous"), so I make sure that everything is accounted for. What I dislike is when other people spend my money on my behalf, without asking for my permission. I am talking about acquaintances who want to eat at a certain restaurant for their birthdays, and then invite everyone they know so that they can pay for their meals (to the tune of $100++). Call me cheap, but I only spend money like that on people I love most. Otherwise I will go broke, and I prefer spending that money on myself.

Money is quite a major thing in my family - especially since the divorce (my parents'). I got to see glimpses of the ugly fight and I vow to myself that I will do anything in my power so that that would not happen to me. So I guess there goes another aspect of the fear.

What I can't quite stand is people who are very stingy when it comes to their money, yet spend other people's money quite freely. You know, those are the ones who eat anything and everything they can when they know that someone else is footing the bill. Or the ones who eat the most when they know that everyone is going to split the bill - so they just have to order drinks, entrée and dessert, even when they are full. And then they don't tip. I pay for my share when it comes to gatherings like that, really, I don't eat that much and I prefer not to drink, especially in day light. I would love to hang out with you over coffee more than wine, over fried chicken rather than fancy brunch. If you are currently on holidays in Sydney, please entertain yourself or get a number of people to entertain you, because I much prefer to keep my finances and waistline intact, thank you very much. And vice versa when I am on holidays.

After writing all of the above, I really do feel much better about these things - read: I don't fear them as much. This is one of the reasons why I write, it is the best tension reliever ever. It gets things out of my system and allow me to sleep better.

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