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The “Dirty Jays” Theory

CXVI | January 14, 2019

As I’ve matured, I’ve started to develop a relationship with my bank account. I can almost feel the money being removed from the account with every transaction. In that same breath,  I can feel the money coming in. Working tirelessly for income, I’ve started to feel a bit protective of it. I kind of began forcing myself to think 3, maybe 4, times before spending a single penny (Yes, even the pennies). This new revelation has allowed me to taste the moments that I do think are valuable enough to spend money on because I don’t feel a sense of buyer’s remorse. Creating memories with those whom I love, funneling another grand into my company slash career, or treating myself to a meal — these are all things that are more valuable than money can define. My current spending habits are not what keeps me up at night, though. The nightmare is when I think about the money that I’ve spent on things that have lost value in my life.

I think about the countless funds that I’ve exhausted on sneakers. Every pay check from the age of 15, I would place a bid in the tiring “arms-race” of competing in the sneaker game. Whatever somebody else had, I needed to get bigger, better, and newer.

That’s not even blues version though. 

I would spend nearly $300 on a pair of shoes (big feet BJ couldn’t get kid sizes) only to wear them a few times then put them up. Or, I would come home excited about a new pair I just bought then forget all about them within a week’s time. Now, as a full-grown adult, I can’t even fathom the idea of doing that. I look back and I’m forced to realize how that money could have been put away to help start my business years ago. I’m even more upset at the fact that I bought those sneakers in an attempt to impress people that aren’t even in my life now. In fact, they haven’t been in my life for years.

I broke my habit of sneaker-hoarding when I was in Buffalo. I got the job on a Thursday and caught the train into Buffalo the next day. By the time I did my first show on WBLK, I had purchased Bred 11s, Penny 5s, Huraches, and Butters….all by Monday. Seriously. A few months down the line, I started to realize that I was spending literal rent money on shoes and vowed to put an end to that habit. I began to wear the ones that I had until it was time to buy new ones. Makes sense.

As I started to be mindful of spending money on the kick-game, more opportunities within my budget began to open up. I began saving to buy my (then) new car. I began investing in myself and career. Most importantly, I was able to help friends who may have been in need.

One day, I walked past my closet that was home to all of the shoes that I’ve bought and worn. Then, I noticed something. There were so many pairs of shoes that I had “retired” because they had a scuff mark — so much money that had gone to waste. Although I wasn’t throwing money away by buying shoes anymore, I still was holding on to other people’s opinions by refusing to wear “scuffed” shoes. Staring at my shoe graveyard helped me realize that I still was submissive to the approval of others. I wasn’t wearing dirty shoes because I was still cautious of people’s approval. Not everyone struggles with acceptance but for me, it has always been a big deal. It’s always been a painful feat.

Until that day.

I slipped my size 13s into my scuffed Jordan IV’s, grabbed a few cookies from my cabinet, and walked out the door. It was one of my first firm stances against public opinion and it was a moment that I will never forget. When I walked into the radio station, I was a bit apprehensive about people staring at my feet but after 15 minutes, I realized something; people’s opinion really don’t matter and I shouldn’t have been giving. There was a sense of freedom that I felt after about an hour of wearing these “Dirty Jays” that allowed me to just live my life unattached to other’s approval. I didn’t have to abbreviate my life for others nor did I have to rely on superficial things to make me feel worthy.

Comfort versus acceptance. What do we decide?

I like to wear these Dirty Jays somedays just to remind myself that I’m all that I need in life. What, and who we are should not be based on the things that we purchase. That’s the hamster wheel of spending endless money, trying to keep up with the world around us. That’s the false sun that we put in the sky which prevents us from learning how to navigate in the darkness.

Being broke and empty in the wilderness is never my first choice of lifestyle, my Dirty Jays help to keep me whole and my pockets stable.

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