every ship needs an anchor.
I’m confident that all of us have heard the quote “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for,” or some variant of it. It’s true, I’m a fan of it, maybe I’ll get it tattooed one day. When ships are built correctly (*side-eyes Titanic*), they can withstand amazing force. Most modern ships have an average yield strength of around 24,000 psi. Like, I don’t know what that means, but it’s impressive because big numbers!
Most modern ships don’t even have anchors anymore. They use some thruster-Star Wars technology to stay in a single position. For the sake of analogy, and because I am once again technologically clueless, I’m sticking with anchors.
Life is hard. It’s not impossible to survive a storm if you do not prepare for it, but it’s definitely harder. It’s an amazing feeling when you can just plow through the day-to-day, getting work done and making others question your super-human capabilities. If you never stop moving until you’re forced to, though, you’ll find yourself ill-prepared. You’ll be rusty, you won’t have a frame of reference, and you’ll be caught off guard. Constructing an anchor while times are good will save you so much trouble when the clouds roll in.
Your anchor has to be personal. What works for someone else won't always work for you. In fact, it probably never will. You can't just pick up a self help guide and expect it to fix you. You have to put in the work yourself. The more you take care of your own needs, the tougher your anchor will become. Think of an anchor as an investment in the future, a way to make sure you can last the next storm.
A few months ago I logged onto my bank account to see all zeros.
Current balance: $0.00.
I was absolutely and utterly unprepared. I had recently switched cell phone providers to Sprint, but I still owed Verizon some money on my previous contract, so they withdrew the money on the date my phone bill was auto-debited- something I didn't know they would do. To make matters worse, this occurred on the same day my students loans were withdrawn from my account. I had also been low on gas that day, with no way to pay for it, so my dad had to bring me gas money as I sat pondering my short-lived success as an adult in the parking lot of the bank I had no money in. At that point, this was me:
Luckily things were resolved in like two days and I faced bank fees smaller than the cost of most coffees I buy, but I was still shaken. My first adult storm hit me before I was ready, and I was vulnerable. I promise you: if that were to happen again today, I would probably be just as unprepared. Even though I got completely swept up in it, I survived. I let down my anchor by consulting the right people, acknowledging the situation as it was, and riding it out (and with a lot of help from my parents, *shout out*).
The reason I had the mind to make it through my own personal Great Recession was because of a financial planning seminar I had attended a few months earlier. I was freshly salaried for the first time and I knew that I had no idea what I was doing. I attended the seminar and met my current financial advisor, which is the most adult sentence I've ever written, with "no thanks, I'm actually just going to stay in tonight" coming in at a close second. I learned so much from my advisor, and I had no idea how much the decision to attend the seminar would help me so soon. Seriously- if you haven't already, talk to someone about managing your money. You think you know what you're doing but you probably don't, and if you're materialistic like me, you need someone to show much your purchases cost in the long run.
ANYWAY, however much we'd like to, we can't go through life simply hoping that a storm won't hit us. I'm paranoid of things going wrong. Every time I get in my car I convince myself that THIS is the trip where one of my tires will blow out, or my car will catch fire. I know that if that did happen today, this week, or this month, I wouldn't be ready (YES, I attended a money seminar, NO, I'm not that much better at managing it). I'm still working on all of this myself. But knowledge is power, and we can all learn a lot from our past mistakes and misfortunes. It's not about regret, but being able to say "okay, that sucked, but now I know how to overcome one more storm than I used to. Go me."