In a few short months, I will transition from “upper-middle class” to “lower-middle class,” albeit voluntarily. (I put those terms in quotes because I think it’s meaningless B.S.) In practical terms, this means going from a $200K salary and never having to think about not having enough money to $0-40K and having to live off my savings. While I plan on using this time to find myself and potentially develop a few businesses, it will be difficult to adjust to the lifestyle change. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how much this shift will bother me, if at all.
As I posted before, I’ve been working on reducing my material desires. From a purely mathematical standpoint, I should be able to sustain myself for a few years. But what effect will this have on my sense of identity? I recently read this article in the New Atlantic about (in)conspicuous consumption and how different groups spend money. The author concludes that groups associated with not having money are more likely to flaunt what they do have.
That’s why a diamond-crusted Rolex screams “nouveau riche.” It signals that the owner came from a poor group and has something to prove.
While I don’t identify myself as coming from a poor group, how this translates to my personal situation is I’ll be on the other side of the fence. How will I look back at myself or at others like me. I’ve never felt the need to prove my net worth to anyone. But then again, I’ve been living in a financial bubble for quite some time and I’ve taken it for granted. Once I make this leap, will I yearn for what I once had? Will I compare myself to my former colleagues, my brother, my friends? Maybe, but I hope I will not become bitter. After all, I chose to give up the high-paying, fast-paced job in order to reassess who I am. I’m giving this up because it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. Life is not about material wealth. It’s about passion, love, and spiritual wealth. I’m willing to give up what I have in order to gain what really matters.