Living in a Deficit

Deficit: the amount by which something is too small 

When all of this CO-VID 19 stuff starting coming out, and things started shutting down and getting cancelled, the general reaction seemed to be, “I’ve been robbed of MY vacation”, “MY birthday has been taken from ME”, “The concert/festival/conference has been unfairly confiscated from ME”.

While these were the statements said, I think the underlying sentiment revealed here is we feel entitled to these experiences. We assume that, because we work, a vacation is an expected outcome and reward for the hours we put in. We feel that, because my birthday is the “ONE” time of the year that the world should revolve around me, I am merited entire entire day of attention. And, because I spent so much time saving up for those concert tickets, and so much time expecting those experiences that event would warrant me, I am somehow put at a disadvantage, and my life is somehow less than, because I can’t go anymore.

This is what I may call “Living in a Deficit”; I feel that, by my nature, I’ve somehow fallen behind, am lacking in, have been unjustly deprived of, and therefore, I am entitled to opportunities to make these deficits up.

I think the notion of “A Bucket List” plays into these expectations and feelings of entitlement. We create a list of these relatively specific experiences we feel we MUST have in order to live a meaningful and fulfilling life: attend the Olympics, be in the Saturday Night Live audience, take a hot air balloon ride during sunset over the Rocky Mountains, travel to and buy a souvenir to all of the Disney parks, to swim with the dolphins in Hawaii, road trip on Route 66, become a Millionaire.

And, then when something happens to these experiences–tickets are sold out before we even log onto the system, someone gets sick or laid off and we have to reconsider our plans, or, the world cancels due to a global pandemic–we feel a lacking, we feel robbed, and because we scheduled our lives so perfectly, we predict that, because we cannot check that one specific item off our Bucket List (because, of course, that was item #35, and since we do one Bucket List item a month, we HAVE to start on item #36, otherwise the plan we have for our whole lives is ruined and our lives will never be meaningful), and therefore, our lives are ruined. Because, of course, every item on our Bucket List is an item that we are entitled to have.

Everyone I know has been to Disney, and I haven’t, so therefore, I deserve the vacation because I’m already living at a deficit from everyone else. All of my friends who turned 21 got to have big birthday bashes, and since I haven’t had mine yet, I’m living a less-life than they are. And, whose DM’s am I going to slide into if I can’t go to Stagecoach this year?!?

For me, one of the most significant takeaways from the whole world shutting down is looking at how I can live my life, not from an area of deficit, but rather an attitude of abundance. I should eat, I should sleep, and I should work so that I can have shelter to eat in and sleep under, but other than those necessities, anything else I do in my life is an added experience. I am not granted any vacation, I am not permitted any celebration, I am not authorized to go to any festival/concert/conference, etc. All of those items are added experiences, but not necessary.

Rather than looking at our lives as centered on checking off specific Bucket List items (go to Disney, throw an epic 21st birthday and get kicked out of the bar, sit first row at the Post Malone concert), what if we just look at every experience we are given as an addition to what we already have? I GET to travel to Disney. I AM ABLE to celebrate my 21st birthday. I CAN sit first row. And, rather than living in a life of deficit–that I’m already behind–I can live a life of abundance–that I am already living a meaningful life, and every other experience is just an added bonus to what I already have.

1 Response

  1. Your last sentence sounds like not only a more desirable frame of mind, but one that is more reality based. Hopefully, the two go together. As someone said in the 19th century, If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, no matter how measured or far away. If Thoreau lived today, perhaps he would change his gendered language. I second his emotion, though.

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