My roommate Carly and I decided we needed to have an “adulting” day and take care of things like paying our internet bill, grocery shopping, and checking off other things we save for cloudy days. We started talking about our finances as part of a discussion on just how expensive it is to live here and how it has been a rare and fleeting feeling to be financially secure. She said something that made me think. “When are we going to get ahead?”
Before Carly moved to St. John, she was using her degree working as Graphic Designer and was doing well, was secure and stable, but hated her job. I was finishing school where I was lucky enough to be financially supported and I could have moved home after college and continued to live for free as I built up my savings and my resume but I would have continued to be miserable. We came down here from different parts of the country, from different backgrounds, for a lot of different reasons but the one we have in common is that we were searching for something more.
When milk costs more than rum, and a cheeseburger at Doghouse costs less than buying the ingredients to make it at home, it is hard to get yourself to the grocery store to stock up on enough food to prevent you from eating out all of the time. When Rum Hut happy hour is just $3 a drink but you get 4 and tip 100%…it does start to add up, but your friend invited you that you haven’t caught up with in a while. When your friends ask you to go on a boat trip after you just went on one the week before but they’re going to a place you’ve been dying to go to…it’s hard to say no. We live in a place that you have to put in some serious effort to balance work and play. In your free time, if you aren’t at home by yourself watching Netflix you’re out spending money.
So, what’s the cost? Yeah, my rent is crazy high and I just spent $75 on groceries that I would have been able to get for $40 in the states. But, I brought my groceries home to my apartment on St. John and while I was putting them away I was watching the sunset over the ocean out of my window. I live where people write songs about, where people go to get married, where people vacation and dream about a different life. I am experiencing something rare and incredible and the monetary cost is high but the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefit that I have received in the last 4 months will outweigh the cost 10 times over.
We ended our talk with the conclusion that we would much rather be broke and happy than miserable and rich. Are we ever going to get ahead? Are we going to have more than a few months rent in our bank accounts at one time? Probably not, but I can say with certainty that we are ahead. We are ahead because we are smart, independent and brave 22 and 23 year olds living out a dream. We’re kicking ass. We’re ahead, girl.