Okay, today's Tuesday Coffee Chat is an interesting one! Leslie wants us to pretend that we write a "Dear Abby" advice column and disclose the letter we would like to respond to and then respond to it.
At first I thought I would opt out because I felt silly doing it, but then one came to me ... it's a piece of advice I would like to give to so many ...
A couple of years ago my husband and I built our dream home in our dream neighborhood in our dream town. Our kids got to go to the new hoity toity elementary school, people said they wished they had what we had, and we generally felt like we had "made it". This is what everyone works so hard to achieve, right? But there's a problem. Our neighbors are awful! They are so snooty, oftentimes talking about us with others when we can hear them! We spend all of our time "Keeping up with the Joneses", and we don't even like the Joneses. In order to fit in we have to work tireless hours and spend money we don't have. Our kids are dressed to the nines, but I find myself stressing constantly about what we are wearing so that we fit in, even at church! I spend so much time making sure we are doing the "right" things, going to the "right" places, buying the "right" clothes and toys, etc. I am exhausted! And, I have found that I don't really have any close, personal friends. What do we do? We thought this lifestyle was exactly what we wanted, but now we are miserable!
Dear Mrs. Smith:
The answer is simple. MOVE! Get away from there and that life that is so completely unfulfilling! None of those people you are describing are truly happy which is why they are constantly buying more, doing more, and backbiting. In fact, I would bet they are probably as miserable as you are and in debt up to their eyeballs. You have learned that lesson that others tell us that we don't ever believe: Money and stuff cannot buy happiness. I know that it is hard to downsize in the community where you have built yourself up so high because it will look like you can no longer afford it and are having to give up, that you have failed. So you have two choices: Get over it and do it anyway or move to another town. It sounds to me like the whole community where you live is eaten up with the disease of greed and prestige, so my real advice is to move to another town. Really think about the things that will make you happy, and more importantly full of joy and peace, and strive for THAT! Chances are you will purchase a much smaller house in a much smaller community with much less to do or buy. It will probably be an adjustment for your children, and even you and your husband, but I bet you will find an immediate easing of stress. You will find that less is really more. There is a latin phrase: Esse Quam Videri which means "To be rather than to seem". Find out who you really are, what you really want out of life, and do it. BE yourself instead of seeming to be someone you clearly are not. And remember that you are teaching your children valuable lessons. You don't want them to learn this the hard way as you have done. Talk to your children, show them that a close-knit family life and peace is more important than lots of stuff, and then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.