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The Day I Got Slapped By Reality

The other day my morning started in the same way many mornings start for 20-something women.  I was standing in my walk-in closet full of clothes and thinking, I have absolutely nothing to wear.
Everything was going to be too warm for our weather, or I'd be too cold in the AC. I just wore a cardigan (don't tell Raven! ;)) yesterday, so I couldn't possibly wear another today.
You know, the big dilemmas in life. 
I eventually decided on something, slipped into my over-worn and over-loved Tory Burch Revas and walked out the door to work.

I work in Wellington, Florida, about 10 miles west of West Palm Beach. You'll notice when you get outside of the touristy areas in Florida that the economic class can change from traffic light to traffic light.  I took a wrong turn trying to get to a gas station a few weeks ago and had to do a U-turn in the driveway of a completely broken down trailer, only to pull into the gas station 50 yards away behind a Maserati.  It's something that's hard to miss, but like most, I'm guilty of turning the other away and not thinking about it too much.

That is, until I found myself surrounded by it one day at work.  We were all in our cubes, doing our thing and chatting when the sweet woman who has the cubicle next to me was asked how her husband is doing.  He suffered a terrible leg injury the year before, and has been on disability, in and out of the hospital for the past year.  She answered by saying he was doing really well except they needed one more medicine, which was just too expensive.  We all nodded in agreement, as working in a pharmacy makes it very clear just how expensive medicine can be.  Then she said, I don't know what we're supposed to do.  Where are we supposed to get an extra $40?

That's when my head popped up, and I tucked my TB flats under my desk, suddenly very aware of all the pictures I had decorated my desk with, pictures of Dom, my family and me in different countries doing crazy things.  I had been worried this morning about not choosing the right combo of clothes from my full closet, where this lady was worried about finding 40 spare dollars for her husband's medicine.  How many times have we gone to Target for one thing and spent tons of money on cute things we don't need? I look at my receipt, laugh, and promise myself I won't do it again, until next week.  I never thought about how lucky I am to be able to spend money on fun things, even when I'm on a budget.

Then in the kitchen, one of the men I work with was asking questions about where I went to college and if I liked it, etc.  His daughter is a senior in high school and wants to be a doctor someday.  He was telling me how she has been studying so hard all four years so she can get into her dream school, the University of Miami.  They've been crossing their fingers every night she'll get a full ride scholarship, otherwise she can't go.  He shrugged his shoulders and laughed, saying you know how that goes.  I gave a nervous laugh and nodded.

 For the second time that day, I grew embarrassed and tried to remember the last time that I actually thanked my dad for paying for my schooling.  I wanted to major in International Affairs, and the best place to do that was GWU.  Very expensive GWU.  I remember my dad saying in high school that if I got in, he'd figure out how to pay for it.  We both kept our end of the deal and I moved to D.C. in August of 2007 to start college.  I didn't even think about the financial strain that going to GWU put on my dad.  He started taking paid speaking engagements around the country and called them "GW units."  We giggled at the name, but I didn't really think about all the extra work my dad was doing to give me the best education possible. It wasn't that I wasn't grateful, I just never thought about it.  I was obviously thankful, but did I thank him after every trip? No. And I should have.  Where I'm from, everyone goes to college.  My sheltered self didn't think of the families I knew as well off, we were just normal.  (That is, until I got to GW and quickly realized what kind of wealth there really is out there.  I was the first girl my freshman year roommate had ever met that didn't have a copy of her dad's credit card to shop with.  And then, of course, there were the heirs and spattering of international dukes and dutchesses in my freshman dorm. But that's a post for another day). As absurd as it is to say, I never thought about someone not being able to go to school because they couldn't afford it.

Talk about a realty check. Sometimes it takes seeing a situation from another point of view to open your eyes.  There's nothing wrong with accidentally spending lots of money at Target, but don't forget to be appreciative of the fact that you can blow some extra money without worrying about putting food on the table.  Be careful before you complain that your designer flats are getting frayed.  The person your chatting to might only wish they could have a pair. I sometimes say I wish I could fast forward the next few years so I can get my next degree but not have to do the work of going back to school.  What should I be doing? Be thankful I'll have the wonderful opportunity to go back to school.

 I think we can all stand to take a few extra minutes to count are blessings, and be thankful for the things we take for granted.  

News flash, Robin, you do have something to wear, and if that is the biggest problem of your day, you've got it pretty damn good.


  1. That was a great post. And you're totally right. I think all girls our age go through the "I've-got-nothing-to-wear" thoughts, and it's probably nowhere close to true. But what is real are the thousands of people just trying to live and survive. I often forget that myself too. I'm sure we all do. Thanks for writing this to remind me, and also to remind all of us. Good writing :)

  2. This makes me just love you even more. You are so sweet to think like that, girl. Every one of us has struggles, and we all need to CHOOSE happiness every day :)

    You are so blessed!

  3. Great post love!

    I always forget these little things too. Ryan and I have been on a tight budget the past few months...but when I look at that, our budget just means me to stop buying $300 worth of clothes and whatnot. We still have the flexibility to buy the things we need and still go on mini trips or out for dates. It's good to be reminded sometimes of how amazing our lives really are (:

  4. I love this post, Robin! I went into NY on Saturday and saw some many homeless. I am grateful for the life I have.

  5. You have the sweetest heart ever, Robin! I'm so thankful to call you my friend!! I wrote a post awhile back about not complaining and I think it's really kept me in check! Drives me crazy to see people complaining that their coffee was made wrong, that their heated seats don't get hot fast enough in their car, etc. We're all guilty of it, and reminders like this are SO important. HUGS HUGS HUGS!

  6. Such a great post! I think we all forget sometimes to just step back and think how good we may have it! I know I complain about a lot but I have to remember I have a house over my head, clothes on our backs and food on our table and forget there are people out there w. nothing

    Thanks for posting this!

  7. I want to commend you for this post. Many people go about their lives day to day, not thinking about people that don't have the opportunities that we take for granted. Its easy to say that people don't work hard enough, but some people truly are victims of circumstances. I've had to remind myself lately that even though I don't have the biggest, or nicest place to live, I have a place to live. I don't always buy the food I want, but I always have something to eat. GREAT POST! and new follower :)

  8. I love this :) I do the same thing every morning and sometimes, I forget that I'm lucky to have the things I do. Thanks for the reminder love

  9. So so true! I have to remind myself of these kinds of things constantly!

  10. Very well-written post. It's always good to appreciate what you have.

  11. It's always so great to get reality checks like this-- makes us realize how lucky we've got it! The kids in my class always have a nice way of bringing me back down to earth when I think my problems are "the worst." Thanks for the reminder today :) Love your blog!

  12. This is awesome. Thank you for sharing this with us. Gives us all a reality check. Thanks for spilling your heart out today! :-)

  13. Great post! You hit the nail on the head :)

  14. I love how in the midst of all regular life we get a reality check and learn about how blessed our lives are. I understand that even if in comparison problems may not be as big, but at the end of the day, they are our issues we have to deal with. However, it is nice to be reminded to appreciate all we have every once in a while. A week ago, when I was very sick and at a doctor's office, I thanked the world that I had health insurance, because how in the heck would I be paying for a doctor's visit and the medicine and what not ... there are plenty of people who have to deal with that kind of issue.

  15. I had to pay for my own college, and I'm still paying almost a quarter of my salary monthly to pay back my student loans.

    While that's unfortunate in my eyes, I can't tell you how many times I say I have nothing to wear while I have two closets overflowing with clothes and more packed away because I just don't have room for all of them.

    I'm lucky to have a job and have all of the things that I do. Sometimes it's nice to see a post like this to remind myself of how some people don't have it nearly as good as I do, even when I sometimes feel that life is unfair to me.

    AMAZING post! :)

  16. This is a great post lady. I often find myself feeling bad about things going on in my life. Then upon hearing other people's problems like health or money issues I immediately get a reality check! Sometimes you just need one.

  17. I work in a pretty low income school so I see these things everyday. About your really is hard when there is sickness in the family...because you go from middle class to lower class with the loss of income. That happened to me. My mom was diagnosed with lupus and stopped working. Apparently it takes a long time to qualify for disability. We were an average family and then we found ourselves being "poor"...poor that $40 dollars was a lot of money. There is a book called the Missing Class about people like that...people that have money but one life tragedy can turn them homeless or in poverty. Good read.

  18. THANK YOU for this post. I really needed this reminder. I often think of all the things I want and complain about how I can't have them, but don't think about the things I do have. I am blessed with a beautiful life and need to remember that there are people who are struggling to buy their medicine....not to buy a designer purse like myself. Thank you again for putting things into perspective to me. I am glad I found your blog through Erin's! I am a new follower!

  19. you are so right about this. i see this type of situations daily...we don't realize how lucky we are.

    by the way how come you major in international affairs and end up in the medical field?

    Bea =)

  20. Saw your post from Erin :)
    I started a thankfulness journal this year, because you're SO right... we take so much for granted. I'm always thinking about the NEXT thing, instead of enjoying what God has already blessed me with!

    Thanks for this post, girl!

  21. I love this post. It's so true. I have found myself talking about something that I have or am able to do...and then the person I'm talking to says later in the conversation about them not having enough money for something. And I'm just like.... o_o oops... Remembering not to take things for granted is something everyone should remember!

  22. Such a well written post. Working with low income kids, I see this on a daily basis and they are who I try to keep in mind whenever I have a thought like I have nothing to wear.

    It's always interesting to sit back and reflect on your life!

  23. I saw that Erin shared this post and I am SO glad she did!! You may think you got a reality check but so did all of us who read your post. Sometimes we think life is SO tough, but it takes things/situations like you went through to realize what is REALLY important! Thank you for sharing!! :)

  24. Bravo Robin! This just topped my favorite posts ever list :)

  25. I am a new follower! I've really enjoyed reading your posts! This one was especially great and I can totally relate!! Thanks for sharing :)

  26. So, so happy I found your blog! I adore this post! My 2013 resolution is no shopping...for the entire year. I, just like you, would stand in my huge closet filled with hundreds of dollars worth of clothes and complain. I felt terrible. This year, I knew I needed to start being thankful for everything that I have been blessed with. Love your blog and I can't wait to follow along.

    You can read about my 2013 resolution of no shopping here:

    Have a wonderful day :)



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