Feeling Behind: Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

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Feeling Behind: Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

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I recently came across a tweet asking if anyone feels like Personal Finance Twitter (a subset of Twitter users who talk personal finance) makes them feel behind financially. The tweet became a really great discussion thread and I chimed in as well with my feelings. 

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

Joshua Fields Millburn

My Lackluster Education And Career Path

My parents didn’t really guide me on a career path on how to make a high income. Dad worked in the same job for over 30 years and my mother has continued her same job since I was 13 years old. Over 22 years as of the time of this writing. 

I knew I would be going to college (eventually) but had no idea what to study. I knew I enjoyed computers and could type well. Other than that I had no direction. Perhaps I didn’t ask the right questions? More so, I didn’t know what, or who, to ask. 

I didn’t go to college right after high school taking a gap year (haha see the irony in the FI community) to work. I took a seasonal landscaping job for minimum wage. The story goes deeper but out of the scope of this article. Basically, I was saving up to see my long-distance partner. Which becomes a recurring theme in my life.

My Start to FI: Quick Overview

I feel like I got a late start to FI. Although I was able to start saving in my early teens (by paying myself first with extra/leftover lunch money), my parents instilled a natural saver mindset in me. Unfortunately, my mother also passed along her scarcity mindset with it. (Which was passed on from my Depression Era grandmother). 

My “Late” Start

I started around age 26 with a copy of the Total Money Makeover. For more of how that story came to be, check out my articles on Fiology.com and ChooseFI.com. As I mentioned in my articles, I got hooked on podcasts and blogs on Financial Independence (FI). At this time, I had only worked part-time jobs while still living with my parents after college. 

Eventually, I would end up in my first full-time job and working on my master’s degree. Again, another story beyond the scope of this article. I fill in some of the “gaps” in my interview on the FI Show

Local FI Groups and My First Millionaire Encounters

Along with the podcasts and blogs, I got motivated and encouraged to visit with my local finance groups. It was here I got my first exposure to millionaires and multimillionaires willing to talk about money. 

Outlier? Or Just Less Experience?

Although motivating, it was also discouraging to see others talk about their high income, high profile jobs, and tax optimizing ideas. I often forgot that some of those multimillionaires had been working, saving, and investing longer than I’ve been alive. I definitely felt like an outlier on my income (and journey) in a room full of high earners. But I wasn’t always alone. There were more and more college students and others still at the beginning of their journey.

In my local groups and online, no one ever purposely made me feel less than. Maybe someone was trolling, but I don’t recall anyone I communicate with regularly. People were willing to help and I made a few friends. However, with the pandemic and keeping up with family obligations, friendships shifted to online (and distant). 

Personal Finance Twitter and Community

Heading Into the Pandemic

Of course, with everything shifting to online, I spent more time on Twitter. Our local groups also shifted to online meetings. I started weaning from my local groups a bit as the talks became more redundant and I just wasn’t feeling the passion anymore. 

Shifting my focus to Twitter, I jumped on a few Zoom calls with Twitter friends and caught a few online events to spark that passion. I still struggled with being motivated to become better but felt like I was still behind. I still struggle with the idea of creating an audience and building a business. I feel like, at the time of this writing, I’m slowly growing into my niche and finding my voice and “unique” identifier. Also known as “competitive advantage” if we go back to my MBA (Master’s of Business Admin) days. 

Shit Hits the Fan

I try to avoid swearing on my posts, but being authentic means I do swear. So a happy medium is swearing when I feel like it. End sidebar. The pandemic was a literal disaster. 

My partner and I have struggled so much during this time (From 2020 to current November 2021). Fortunately, the Personal Finance Twitter Community came together and helped my partner and me get through some severe times. They continue to do so as well. 

“You’re Going to the Conference”

I always came up with excuses. I love going to conferences and big events. But they also drain me. I get anxiety leading up to it. I’ve canceled so many events I wanted to go to. Sometimes it’s a money issue. Sometimes it’s an anxiety issue. 

My last partner was not supportive of the FI community. She did not support my future goals or my wanting to be successful. (I mentioned the exact quote to a few people). But that part of my life is over. I wish her the best for her and end it there. 

My current partner is the complete opposite. With our struggles, I didn’t think I would be going to the Econome Conference. Emergency after emergency, I was burning through the cash I had saved up. 

“You’re Going to the Conference…And Staying”

Circle back to the generosity of the FI community. I received two life-changing donations. Someone was kind enough to pay for my ticket. Another donated a large sum of money to not only fund my emergency fund, but also my spending money for the weekend. On top of all that, I still have enough for a trip my partner and I are planning for her birthday. 

With money taken care of, there were just logistics to figure out. Another Twitter friend made sure I made accommodations to stay for the socializing activities after the “speaking parts” of the conference. I was too late and wasn’t able to make hotel accommodations. Enter anxiety again. 

I said “Fuck it” and decided to put myself out there. I grabbed a backpack and threw in enough clothes for the weekend. If someone had a room in their hotel, maybe I could catch a break. And of course, it paid off. Jumping out of your comfort zone pays off.

The Welcoming Committee: The Guac Gang

I detail meeting everyone in this post about the conference. But to summarize, my friends, CfireSim, We Want Guac, Bitches Get Riches, Slowly Sipping Coffee and others bring me back to the point of this post. These people are incredible and have astronomical numbers compared to me. 

On paper, I don’t even belong in the same room. But, on paper, they don’t give a shit. They’ve been where I’ve been or had their own similar struggles. They had the opposite effect of comparison when I hung out with them. 

We felt like lifelong friends. Shared and overshared. Boosted each other up. Laughed, cried, and did dumb shit together. Kitty spilling her beer all over herself AND her bear hugging me will forever be ingrained forever in my memories. 

Adding To The Guac Gang: My Partner

I can’t wait to introduce my partner to all my new FI friends. She has had the chance to talk with a few of them through our Zoom calls and loves chatting finance with CfireSim and others. I can see that she is on the cusp of diving headfirst into FI. 

I know they can lift her up like no other group of people can. I just have to find the means to get her to meet these fantastic people. That is my current challenge. I am going to find a way to do it. I’ve already started planning on how to get her to meet up with some great Twitter friends I haven’t got to meet yet. Twitter friends who are welcoming and know that she is capable of extraordinary things, just like me. 

I know that when I am able to introduce her to other welcoming people in the FI community, she will become extraordinary. She is one of the most supportive and welcoming people I’ve ever met. I can’t wait until she and I can share in the joy of being the welcoming committee to those who find FI in the future.