When You Don’t Earn As Much As Your Friends

As my friends around me head to work to tackle the world of Investment Banking, Litigations or Management Consulting, I tie my hair in a bun, press play on a Spotify playlist and open my laptop. This is how my day begins: on my couch, in cotton shorts, checking to see if my last invoice has been paid. It’s very accurate to assume that not some, but all of my friends earn more money than me. I know this through their regular purchase of $17 salads and ownership of Lululemon knickers.

I’m a classic comparer with tendencies towards feeling FOMO a majority all of the time. They have Aesop? I need Aesop! They go snowboarding? I need to belong to conversations about the Niseko après ski, ASAP.

One could argue that my addiction to Zimmermann dresses is part of the problem, or perhaps it was the creatively driven high school I attended, where the state of my tap shoes was given equal importance to fractions. Either way, I’m a freelance writer that doesn’t understand fractions. Either way, I’m broke. But alas, the sun will set tonight and rise tomorrow and just like Charlotte said in Sex & The City, I choose my choice.

No sparkling water, thanks

Rather than dwell on my desire to drink Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay on a Tuesday, I chose this path and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is not a story for those who have dinner at their desk Monday to Friday and “have” to work every Sunday, but instead, to the ones who ask how much an extra shot of coffee is and feel an overwhelming anger at the price of washing powder. No we don’t want sparkling water and yes thank you, I will take the flowers from the bridal table home.

It’s interesting to me how choosing my dream path over money is so often judged by nine-to-five folk. Maybe it’s jealousy over my apparent freedom or maybe I’m creating the insecurity, but it exists. I worry that my world consists of high achievers and therefore, a happy mediocre achiever like me is labelled as, well…lazy.

After finishing Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In when I was in my mid-twenties, I didn’t scream from the rooftops about being an independent woman who would manage babies and career with ease. I simply thought to myself, ‘nah, I’m good’ .With the realisation that I wasn’t an ambitious person and was completely satisfied with being average, I felt the lightest I had in years. So my new mantra? Compare less, focus on what’s in your control and be happy with what you’ve got.


Lean Out

I’m in no way implying I’m cured of the self-pity for my $10 calico handbag, and sure I feel a personal irritation towards splitting the bill when I ate zero oysters but I do wonder… have we ever actually asked those financially able friends how they do it? Does surrounding ourselves with people with money make us driven to earn more? Do my friends unintentionally encourage me to be better with my money because I long for their Prada sunglasses and Sheridan towels?

My homework this month? Less poor me, more I choose my choice.

Between now and then though, let’s be honest, I’ll just be adding Aseop and fancy towels to the Christmas list and deleting any friend that says #NisekoPowPow, because this isn’t a story about living beyond my means…just how to live with other people’s.

Holly is the lady behind the food blog, The Wandering Matilda. She has spent the last five years writing and cooking across Europe and Asia. Follow her wanders @thewanderingmatilda.