The Value of Being There

I have a sweet friend who got hitched two weeks ago in a charming and romantic old farmhouse and barn just outside Leiper's Fork, TN.

Leiper's Fork is a rural village located about an hour south of Nashville along the Natchez Trace Parkway, which always is a lovely drive, especially in the fall.

It was a damp and overcast afternoon during our trek out to the country. My boyfriend and I were unusually quiet as we took in the scenery. It was a colorful, winding drive, and the venue was secluded in the woods at the end of a partially hidden driveway.

Several months prior, my friend had needled me for a proper RSVP during one of our weekly happy hours. Unfortunately, her big day had been scheduled for the same time period as a major work event out of town. It was too early to tell if I'd be able to make it.

Those of us who've worked nomadic jobs understand that clinging, then sinking, sound of disappointment in people's voices when you're never able to fully commit to future events.

Even your closest friends and family members eventually lose faith when they are never consistently able to rely on your presence.

I've missed countless sushi train birthdays, bonfires, shows, and Halloween shindigs.

I've missed just as many impromptu late-night porch hangs, karaoke night caps, and weekend brunches.

I can only image how devastating this repeated conversation must be between a parent and child. The heavy silence of absence and the blank response of “it's okay.”

After existing like this for many days, months, and years, I was finally able to choose my friend's wedding, arguably the most important event in her life to date, first.

Even after having the privilege of attending three other weddings this season, I noticed feeling a deeper and more personal connection this time.

I appreciated the handmade centerpieces, the delicious assortment of home-brewed beer, the video tribute from German relatives, and the multi-layed cake.

I loved seeing my friends get drunk, snapping selfies in the fancy climate controlled portable bathrooms blasting Adele, busting ridiculous dance moves to an iPod playlist, and hangin' with relatives I'd met for the first time that evening.

The older I get, the more I realize our most precious commodity is time. It's why our priorities change once we realize this resource is finite. It's what motivates many of us to work toward financial independence, despite the sacrifices it requires.

It's nearly impossible to quantify the value of it, and perhaps that's what making being there so important.

Readers: What events have helped you determine the value of being there?

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Discussions — 17 Responses

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life October 21, 2014 on 8:06 am

    I totally empathize with you- I never commit to anything more than a few weeks in advance because I never know when a job is going to come up. It’s sad in a way, but that’s the reality- and I can’t prioritize one day, regardless of how special over a chance at two to three months of work.

    I do love being there though. I just wish I was a big enough star that my schedule came first and foremost and I wouldn’t be completely passed over for having a one day conflict.

  • debs @ debtdebs October 21, 2014 on 8:06 am

    Sounds like you’re really starting to embrace living in the moment, Kate. It’s almost like, even though we can’t do everything, once we commit to somethings it’s best to appreciate and live them fully. That makes good memories and good sense. It sounds like it was a lovely fall wedding.

  • Kassandra October 21, 2014 on 8:36 am

    DH and I often miss special special moments in our loved ones lives because of the nature of our careers and not living close to them. We do however place a very high importance on being there for family and close friends and they do understand that it is hard for us to immediately confirm our presence to events. We do the best that we can and try not to worry about what is less in our control.

  • Broke Millennial October 21, 2014 on 8:55 am

    Part of the reason I’ve gone a little dark on Broke Millennial has been for this reason! Relationships are so important and we need to take the time to nurture them. I’m glad you got to go to your friends wedding and your life is a bit less chaotic since switching jobs.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 21, 2014 on 8:57 am

    Sounds like a fabulous time and so glad you were able to make it! I always think people and relationships are one of the most important things in life. It’s tough when one’s job makes it tough to keep those bonds strong.

  • NZ Muse October 21, 2014 on 4:44 pm

    Last month when I took time off work to be at a funeral with T. I reeeeeally didn’t want to, but it was the right thing to do (it was long and boring and I didn’t really know the person and I was busy at work, but he needed the support).

  • Melanie @ Dear Debt October 21, 2014 on 8:37 pm

    I have also been a little flaky lately, but I have no reason to be. I can choose to stop working. A few years ago, I went to my cousin’s wedding and it was great to see all my extended family I hardly ever see. It felt so nice to dance, and catch up on stories. I do want to start spending more time saying “yes” to people and not just work.

  • Erin @ Journey to Saving October 21, 2014 on 9:14 pm

    I’m experiencing kind of the opposite right now. Having moved away from everyone, and just getting engaged, I’m really missing all my family and friends back home. No one can afford to just up and visit each other, and I’ve missed a few events already. I made the decision to move and I knew this would happen, so I can’t really complain. I’m glad you were able to enjoy being there at the wedding!

  • Genevieve October 21, 2014 on 9:25 pm

    I didn’t properly appreciate all those relationships until I woke up out of being busy and realized that some of those relationships were withering. It’s an important use of time.

  • Zee @ Work-To-Not-Work October 21, 2014 on 9:43 pm

    I realized how important time was while I was still in elementary school. My dad was working at a start up and I pretty much didn’t see him anymore. Perhaps once a week, and usually when he got home he just ate dinner and didn’t want to be bothered.

    But it was one night in particular that he didn’t come home that it really bothered me, my birthday. My mom had called him a few times to tell him to get home so I could open my presents and that we were waiting for him. Eventually it was really late at night and I just wanted to go to bed. So we did presents and cake without him. I never wanted something that makes people so unhappy consume that much of their lives. I guess it was the pursuit of money to provide but money is not everything. Time is.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 22, 2014 on 10:08 am

    I recently opted to focus my time on my hubby for our anniversary rather than do work and it didn’t cost me anything other than the stress of building up work; however, my hubby REALLY appreciated it because he knew that the time was precious, and I love that he still wants to spend so much time with me after 12 years together.

  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrich October 22, 2014 on 12:00 pm

    I agree with this 100%. It sucks to not be able to be socially reliable. I’ve changed and backed out of plans so many times over the years, which feels worse than just refusing to commit to them in the first place, but both situations are pretty lame.

    I haven’t really been a fan of my job this year, but the one thing I have LOVED is being 45 minutes from my friends and family, with a pretty reliable and flexible work schedule. I feel like I’ve missed so much being gone for most of the last 10 years that things as simple as being able to go on the family camping trip feel incredible.

  • Michelle October 22, 2014 on 6:58 pm

    I have missed quite a few events and life events because of work. I have been trying to prioritize my time and making those hard decisions.

  • Frugalween! | Budget and the Beach October 23, 2014 on 10:25 pm

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  • Lauren October 27, 2014 on 11:11 am

    I’ve missed a lot of things by being a nomad. Now I’m back in my hometown, around my family, and I really value this time spent with them at holidays and birthdays. The older I get, the more torn I feel about possibly moving away again.

  • Mr. SFZ November 10, 2014 on 10:10 pm

    Great post Kate. Nice reminder as to why most of us decided to strive to become financially independent in the first place. In regards to your reader question, I recently took a month of leave from work to visit family and friends back on the east coast for the first time in almost 2 years. I had a great time and it really reinforced my goals for continuing to save money and invest each month with the hope of retiring early so I could enjoy quality time like this with people more often. It was awesome to get to see family members that I hadn’t visited with in years and to hang out with friends I hadn’t seen since high school graduation day.

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