Enough is Enough

I have a problem.

All my friends are awesome.

Now, on the list of problems to have, this one is so minor that it barely rates being listed as a problem. However, it bothers me, so I'm counting it as a problem. I'm blessed that I'm expending brain power on this, and not some other pressing issue like feeding myself or worrying about where I'm going to sleep tonight.

There's a saying out there that says you are the sum of your top 5 friends or some other inspirational bologna like that.

Oh look I found the inspirational quote in a cheesy picture:

Apparently it was the inspirational speaker Jim Rohn who said that quote originally. Now we've both learned something!

Anyways… back to the point.

My friends are awesomely amazing people. They're passionate, freakishly intelligent, driven, hard-working, hilarious people. They're starting businesses, staying in touch with our respective local legislators, raising families, producing amazing content, hustling to earn extra money, paying off debts like crazy, buying a new rental property…. the list goes on and on.

Usually I get inspired by my friends. But sometimes it's hard to not get jealous or feel like a bum. Even though I know our situations are different, it's hard not to compare myself to them.

I know this is ridiculous. Here I am killing it, and I still feel like it's not enough. But you know what? It is.

I am doing enough.

It's been one month since I closed on my first rental property. Not only did I buy my first property at age 26, I did it all by myself as a single lady. No one helped me. [unless you count the indirect help of getting a nice bonus at work, a moving allowance, and living cheaply in my friend's basement. But I count those more as savvy money moves than help. Call it what you want though.]

My mom pointed out that she's never had her name on a mortgage. She's done lots of other things in her life (like raising 3 great kids haha) but buying a house is not one of them.

I have other friends who can't even move out of their parent's house or rent a place without having a roommate due to crushing student loans. I have friends who struggle to come up with the money to go see a movie at the theater once a month.

So why don't I compare myself to them? Doing so would certainly make me feel a lot better about myself. I don't compare myself to them because I don't often see their struggles. No one brags on social media how they are worried their power is going to get cut off or that they're scrambling that month to come up with the rent check.

Unless you're Pitbull & NeYo, then you write a whole damn song about how you can't pay your rent and the associated poor choices that go along with that.

But successes? They're everywhere. Someone added a sweet rental property to their portfolio. Someone got a bonus the size of your entire yearly pay and put it in their taxable investment account. Someone got a higher paying job. Someone just got done biking to work and posted a selfie of them afterwards glowing from the exercise with their all-organic healthy smoothie they blended before they rode to work. People love to celebrate the good (and they should!).

What I'm doing is enough, and I'm not going to let people make me feel bad.

I drive my car to work and back every day. I don't feel like waking up 3 hours early just to go completely out of my way to ride my bike. Not to mention my main route to work is not only unsuitable for riders on the best day, but mostly under construction and therefore completely unsafe now. It's enough I ride my bike to the grocery store and farmer's market on the weekend.

I work out sparingly. I have friends that spend hours at the gym every day and they're in amazing shape. Do I wish I could see my ab muscles? Yes. Am I willing to put forth the effort right now? No. It's enough I do body weight exercises at home and eat a healthy diet.

I post when I can. My main time for writing used to be at work when I had nothing to do. Now I have tons to do at work and am busy all day (like I should be). This means I've had to find other times to write and I haven't been the best at it. But I am doing enough to get posts out when I can and make sure they're the best quality they can be before I hit that publish button.

Am I saving enough? Am I being frugal enough? Are my investments optimized to the best options in the market? All three of those could be answered No. But you know what? It's enough that I max out my HSA, Roth IRA, and 401(k). It's enough I have those invested in VTSAX or some other low fee index fund. I could spend less on travel and food. But it's enough I travel hack and bring my food into work most days. Sure, I might not be eating crock pot oatmeal at $.10 a serving…….. but at least I'm bringing in packets of oatmeal from home and not getting breakfast and lunch downstairs from the cafeteria every day.

I might not have a whole portfolio of rental houses yet, but it's enough that I got started and bought the first one. That's more than most people can say. Sure, this property might need more TLC than I originally anticipated, which means I probably won't have a decent down payment saved up by the fall and won't be able to buy another rental property until at least next spring. But that's ok. Because one is enough for now.

I might not have the perfect family unit or even a boyfriend. But that's ok. Because I'm happy and taking care of myself now. I'm not so desperate that I take the first guy that shows interest in me and try to make it work. It's enough to wait (mostly patiently) for the right guy to come along.

So, my dear reader, take these lessons to heart. Do your best, and don't worry about what everyone else is doing. The fact you worry about this means you're already ahead of the pack.

You are enough.


**fun fact:  Semantic satiation (also semantic saturation) is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds. If you're anything like me, that's why “enough” looks weird right now.

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43 thoughts on “Enough is Enough

  1. “Enough” is one of those things that, for me, varies everyday. Sometimes it’s enough that I got off the couch, other times it’s enough when I slay the dragon. FB, insta, Twitter are often full of moments when people have slayed the dragon. I get it…no need to show the other 22 hours in the day that nothing extraordinary happened. But we all know that is life – the ebb and flow, highs and lows. We celebrate the highs and try to move on from the lows in the least public ways possible. Filters weren’t invented for pictures, they were invented for feelings as well.

    Believe me, your friends are looking at you the same way you are looking at them. You bought a fricking investment property!!! That’s HUGE!! You don’t live on your parents couch. You can buy your own food, you can stand on your own two feet. You have done more than most will ever do. Take solace in that, take time to relax, and then get up and slay the next dragon. Believe me, there is always another one waiting to swoop in and make you your own hero!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…That Says a Lot About You.My Profile

    • YES! This weekend when I pulled my back it was enough to make it outside once or twice during the day. This week it’s enough to get all my boxes moved into the attic. I love that the definition is fluid depending on the day.

  2. I hear you Gwen. It’s tough not to compare yourself to others. I’ve made a conscious effort to do it less lately and it has actually been working for the most part. But then I was just helping a friend with his FIRE plan and realized he’s pulling in 50% more than me this year. Wait a minute – I thought I make as much or more than all my friends. Apparently not. But oh wait – it doesn’t matter. Just have to remind that to myself. Instead I should think “good for him!”
    Fervent Finance recently posted…To Buy or Not to BuyMy Profile

    • Good on you for recognizing the emotions as they come up! It can be super hard to be left behind…. like when your friend is getting NYC $$$ to live in the Midwest 😛

  3. I can see where you are coming from. We are surrounded in this community with stories of success everywhere, but we rarely hear when things take a bad turn. There’s nothing wrong with trying to better oneself further, but we should all take a pause, look in the mirror and see where we are.

    Where you are is fantastic! You’re kicking butt and taking names Gwen! Your fire (pun unintended) and passion inspire many, with your energy being a catalyst for others.

    This made me think if where I am as well, I often wonder if I have done enough, and have a hard time internalizing complements and accomplishments. I have grown in my career and have slowly started a side business, getting great clients (like you!). I must be doing something right 😀

    • Aw shucks Kevin thanks for the kind words. As for your side hustle, definitely doing something right! Lots of things actually!

  4. So much yes to this! My sister has a sign above her doorway that says “Just Do Your Best” and it’s so true. It’s easier to judge then it is to understand–and that goes for how we treat ourselves, too. Nobody wants to talk about the bad things that are happening in their lives. We all talk about how great things are going, and that projects an unrealistic image of how our lives are. We’re all muddling through and trying to look like we know what we’re doing. 😉
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend! April 23My Profile

    • I love this. “Just do your best” I might have to do a needle point of this and hang it up in my casa!

  5. We constantly have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s a race with ourselves. If you compare to others, it’s a dangerous game.

    It’s tough but just gotta be happy that you’re making progress toward your goals.

    Plus, when you compare to watch you see published in facebook etc, it’s only the very best filtered life. You said it yourself. No one posts about drowning in credit card debt, it’s all vacations in Barbados.

  6. Thank you…I loved this post. In general, I appreciate how you let us peek into the frustrations and struggles of your life, rather than being all shiny all the time.

    I’m doing way better at FIRE and frugality than I was a couple years ago, or even one year ago. I’m still failing dramatically on several fronts, and that is OK!
    I’m a creature of habit, and I’m building new frugal habits in a slow and steady way that is sustainable for me.

  7. I hate that quote. Especially when people relate it to net worth or productivity because I’m all: “Hmmm. 3 of my 5 are under the age of 10. This does not bode well for me…” And being a PF blogger that isn’t successfully maxing out Roth IRAs… I feel this. And real estate stresses me out… so I’m still trying to figure out how my “enough” fits in. But thank you. This is an important voice in the sea. We are all enough. (Also, I’m singing Hamilton again… “it would be enough…”)

  8. Enough is all relative and something (most) all of us struggle with…. at least, if we are being honest with ourselves.

    Someone will always be in better shape, have a better financial situation, a larger portfolio of rental properties or make more than us.

    True happiness occurs when we learn to be content with what we have today. However, we should still look forward and plan so that we can get to where we want to be in the future

    Keep your chin up and doing what you are doing.

  9. I’m pretty much the worst at this. Instead of looking at how far I’ve come in terms of becoming debt-free and significantly accelerating my retirement savings, I dwell on the fact that I’m not in a very high-paying job or that I don’t travel enough or that I need to be more civically active. I am doing a lot, and life is long, so I just need to remember that. I think living on the compressed scale of FIRE makes everything seem much more imminent.

    • Right!?! Me:”Just imagine what I could do if I earned $120k a year! I’d save so much!” Also me: eh, saving $145k in 3 years is no big deal… WHAT is wrong with us!?!

  10. In the end the race is only with yourself.

    Put another way, if you tell me all my friends are better off than me but still I am financially independent/early retiree, I take that straight away.

  11. Amen! Apparently, there is research out there linking social media to depression. Makes sense, when all you see is the amazing, positive, life changing moments, it starts to make you feel like you aren’t doing anything with your life. I constantly remind myself to embrace it all: the feelings and emotions, as well as the strengths and the flaws, because that is what makes you unique. Keep on doing what you are doing Gwen, you are killing it!
    Mrs.Wow recently posted…The Craziness of Real Estate in LAMy Profile

  12. I hear you Gwen I especially do this when it comes to blogging. I should ( could?) Be writing more often , my writing could be better, why don’t I have as many readers I live the same way as x….. But then I remember that we didn’t all start at the same place or even have the same current situation.

    I have kids and am trying to reach FI that on it’s own means my journey and time will be much different then you, or MMM or any other successful blogger.

    I might not be saving every last penny for FIRE but we are still making great progress for a one income household.

    I want to push myself to do my best but I can’t compare my start to someone who is way further down the finish line.
    The Roamer recently posted…Capsule 5: Summer, No purchase necessaryMy Profile

  13. I love the way you finished the post with this quote: “do your best and don’t worry what everyone else is doing”

    Also, the indirect help you mentioned, getting a nice bonus at work, a moving allowance, and living cheaply in my friend’s basement, are things you worked for or sought out to help you in your situation – kudos to you!

    I struggled with comparing myself to my friends when I first got out of school and I still do once in awhile today. I wanted to make the most money and have the nicest/coolest things. I’m blessed that my wife, back then my girlfriend, wasn’t focused on what others thought. Also, the personal finance community has widened my view on topics like frugality and only spending money on things that make you happy.

    Now, I focus on my family and my situation and I don’t worry about trying to stay ahead of my friends. I spend time with my friends hanging out and being friends – not getting into a pissing contest for who has the nicer or better things. The friends that care about that are friends that I don’t talk to as much anymore – now, I surround myself with the friends that care more about us as people and not the things we have.

    Sorry for the long comment, but your post really made me think and reflect on my situation!

    • I’m glad I could help you stop and think! I have just me, so sometimes I let myself get in my head and freak out over something that’s pretty trivial. See you this weekend!

  14. I recall reading a quote awhile ago, “Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20” on a somewhat well know FI blogger’s website. 🙂 I copied that quote to my list of many quotes I try to remember in life. I find it especially relevant when it comes to where people are in their FI journey.

    Think about if you were 3 or 4 years younger and looking at where you are now. Would you be jealous of your current accomplishments? Would you believe what you are doing now would even be possible? What will it look like a few years from now? The more you push through life’s doors, the more possibilities will open up to you. Just keep moving forward, and remember the obstacles are the way.

    • Must not be that well known… haven’t seen it! Hahaha! At age 22 I would be pretty damn impressed with myself, so thanks for the inspiring words Ryan!

  15. Great read. Made me think of something I saw a few days ago, namely the thank you speech Mathew McConaughey (great actor btw) made for winning an oscar. Hey talked about having 3 things in his life that he needs, of which one of them is somebody to chase after. Many are chasing successful friends or famous persons who have made it all to the top. But his hero? Himself in 10 years, so he could make his own path and continue to grow ever along. Fits here perfectly 🙂

    Link to speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD2cVhC-63I

  16. Hi Gwen,
    I can completely relate to the feeling. Many years ago after I’d gotten quite fit I strode into the gym after a long absence feeling totally awesome about how much I’d progressed. I took one look around realised the place was full of women stronger, fitter, leaner and just totally more awesome than me and I left feeling depressed.

    At that point I learned that in any group of people, I will never be the fittest, wealthiest, most successful, most happily married or best parent. And that’s okay. The main thing is that I’m making progress in my life on what’s important to me.

    Whenever I start comparing now, I try to remind myself of how far I’ve come in the last year and be proud of that.

  17. Good for you. Learning to be content really helps you enjoy your great situation. I’m 26 but won’t be getting a house, but I see that you did and am happy for you and will likely learn a lot from you. Keep it up and enjoy the ride.

  18. I don’t have much more to add than what has already been said, but I appreciate you writing about this. This is one of my favorite post of yours!

  19. Fun post that reminds us all of how important OUR INDIVIDUAL lives are. Life is not about everyone else. Life is about You, and the way to find YOU is to try, and take risks, and be willing to learn when you succeed and fail. Failing is great because you learn how tough you really are in the process. If you’re willing to get up off the couch and actually TRY to do something with your life, you are more successful than anyone else one the planet, because no one can ultimately be better at reaching your dream life and purpose than you. Thanks for the reminder, that finding peace in life, is really about finding yourself by just trying to be the best possible you without worrying what anyone else thinks. Peace sister.

    • @Bill, I’m gonna print this you said and read it every time life makes me choose between my true nature and a people pleaser who does what he is supposed to. I normally end up taking the former, not without struggle and pain for having to leave things or people behind. So your comment is really valuable.

      This involves financial independence too, of course. Convincing your comfort-loving girlfriend that you want to be able one day not to have to go to work so you are saving up as much as possible in the present might become one of those crucial life choices I meant above.

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