The expected trajectory of a person's life is as follows; humble beginnings, proceeded by professional and personal development, and eventual breakthrough leading to established success. What does that really mean though? Few of us start on the same footing. For one person's humble beginnings, their situation is another's established success. There is also the less linear truth to this path and that is the meandering road that the estimated 100 years of life a human body has in it to complete. The peaks and pits that you may have on your journey to your eventual end are unique to each of us. Most of us feel like failures during much of our life when we compare our highs to that of others. We have these embarrassments that we can not seem to shake that can at times remind us that we are not where we feel we are supposed to be during that stage of our existence. Untidy ends and awkward items can cause a person to say to themselves "how can I feel like I am winning when there is duct tape holding together my couch or my car has more rust than the Titanic?" This is my summation of this topic.
It's okay to have duct tape holding together something or another that you find morbidly embarrassing when others see it. Obviously, there are caveats to that statement, as in if you "accidentally" cut off your ear (Van Gogh) a doctor should have a look at it before you settle on duct tape as the permanent cure. In this context, I am referring to something less do or die and more along the lines of a broken decorative piece or the side of an old couch where the stuffing is coming out. You are not a failure because your life is not a Crate and Barrel catalog, nor are you a success if it is. It just means that you put your money toward things that were prioritized above a couch that is just as comfortable or an outlet mall sale item that has some mileage on it. If you are fed and the bills are in order, it's okay and normal to have those frayed edges scattered about your world.
Taxes, insurance, and interest rates are a few of those very adult things to deal with frequently, and all of which help maintain your credit score. Yet often I hear others speak of how much they feel like they are not going anywhere or that every day is one step forward and two steps back. The truth is that all efforts go to some end, whether that is of use now or later depends on circumstance. Can having a car that breaks down every day be a good thing? It is if you learn enough about engines to teach your kid who goes on to one day be in a STEM career that your junker car maintenance planted the seeds for in their life. Could your ugly couch be the basis of a design trend that you can market on Etsy as a fulfilling and lucrative side-hustle? Maybe if you follow through on it or maybe with all the best of luck and planning, it still falls through. This is why no matter what you do, always do so for the journey and not the end result.
In life, we do not get to order our predicaments or comforts, which during difficult times can feel insurmountable. On the other hand, comforts can be a slow poison too. Lead-based make-up, warm asbestos insulation, and some fancy radium plates were once highly coveted wares. Imagine working those extra hours to give your family a leg up only to find out later that those things took years off of their lives. Tragic and ironic are words to define that paradox. The reality is that humans want for what they deem better is never-ending. So we have to put our money and efforts where they will do the most good, and a new couch can wait for past the need to pay your grandmother's retirement home fees. When you look at the things that are unpolished, consider not the eyesore that they are but the things you did get that mattered more. Is your car a shabby rust bucket, but you paid for your kid to go to the doctor when they were sick? Then consider yourself a monumental success! It's not what you don't have, but what you did with what you did have.
The bandaid fix is about knowing that you are putting your resources into the things that matter and not wearing your money in a twisted insecurity pageant. Be kind to yourself and know that your efforts have been well applied. If another person gives you a side-eye for not being materialistic then pity them because they do not know the value of nonmaterial goods. Also, be proud that you are on your journey, you still have big plans for the future and you are in the process of making them come true. Believe in yourself and your timeline, even though it is probably nonlinear in nature. Every step is going toward your personhood, and that's what matters most, unless you are a serial killer, then turn yourself in immediately, please.