When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to have my own apartment. I loved my parents, but I also loved the show “Friends” and they made living on your own look like it meant having the time of your life.
The university I attended was about an hour away from home, so I lived in the dorms. Senior year I lived in an apartment with four roommates, but that didn’t quench my desire to have my own place.
Unfortunately, I knew that my Senior year was closest I was ever going to get to living on my own before my 28th birthday.
Early on, my dad made clear to me that I was to move back home after college and live with him for five years. He wasn’t going to charge me anything and just wanted me to work and save up $10,000 before venturing out on my own. He believed that would be enough money to furnish a nice apartment, pay my rent a few months in advance and place the rest in an emergency fund. No financial struggle necessary.
I suspected that he also wanted me to have enough money in savings to allow him to cut me off financially without guilt.
His pragmatism appealed to logic I inherited from him, but I wanted my own apartment right then. Well, not right then because I was still in high school when we initially had this conversation. But, I didn’t want him to even verbally stand in the way of my dreams of living with my best friend in a cute little apartment in my hometown post-college.
He would often say, “Why would you live in this city and pay rent when you can live at home for free?”
I was devastated.
I knew that only two things would get me out of having to celebrate my 26th birthday while living at home: Marriage or an out-of-state job. Considering my love life at the time, I figured the marriage thing was a long shot. However, I knew I could definitely apply for jobs somewhere, anywhere that would move me out of Columbus and make living at home impractical.
During my Senior year of college, I informed my dad that I would be looking for a job in a different state. I said that successful journalism careers are rarely launched in big cities and I needed to move to a small town to put my degree to work.
He told me to focus on graduation and then come live at home for the summer without working or looking for a job. He said that I would be working for the rest of my life and needed to take advantage of one more lazy summer financed by dad.
Still, I was bummed about going back home and I was afraid that I wouldn’t find a job out of state and thus be forced to fulfill his plan of living at home for five years. I would tell any listening ear about how my dad was controlling my life and how being financially tethered to your parents meant not being able to make your own choices and how much I wanted my own place.
After graduation, I moved back in with my dad…and he died ten days later. Devastated, I moved out of his house and into my own apartment. The irony.
Every time I think about that situation and how I spent four years worrying about something that eventually turned out to be a non-issue, I wonder who taught us that just because something is one way now means it will be that way forever?
We see this when people complain to whoever will listen about being single, and then turned up married within the year. Same with people who spend their days dreading a job they hate only to be suddenly laid off. Or, in my case, someone who resents living at home with her dad only to get a phone call that he was killed in a murder-suicide.
There is a quote by Epicurus that I love: “Don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you have not, but remember that which you have now was once among the things you only hoped for.”
That’s not to say we can’t affect change in our own lives and take charge of less-than-ideal situations, but sometimes we need to just relax instead of worrying about something that may or may not even happen.
I don’t really have any regrets about my relationship with my dad, but sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have made such a big deal about living in my own apartment. Living rent-free is certainly not the worst thing in the world and, in fact, I ended up married before my 26th birthday anyway. I wish I would have just been grateful that my dad desired to take care of me when so many (now, myself included) don’t have a dad at all.
I don’t wallow in regret though. Instead, I chose to learn the valuable lesson that life can change in a literal blink of an eye and, therefore, some things just aren’t worth worrying about prematurely. We don’t know what a day could bring. Before we go to sleep tonight, any one of us could get that job or meet that guy or find a money bag or some other random event that life chooses to mix up the daily routine. So, instead of feeling like today is forever. I just thank God for today and continue to count my blessings because I know that, good or bad, it may not be this way tomorrow.
Have you ever worried about something that ended up being a non-issue?