On keeping up with the Joneses – whichever ones strike your fancy

niggling little voice“Do it, Nancy,” the Niggling Little Voice whispered in my ear. “It will be wonderful. The opportunity of a lifetime.”

He was right. That voice certainly had a point. It WAS an amazing opportunity. “If you don’t jump now, you’ll regret it,” he said. “Better grab the chance before it’s too late.”

But mostly I wasn’t listening to the Niggling Little Voice. I was paying attention to the Loud Obnoxious Voice stomping on my shouting voiceshoulder, screaming in my other ear. “IT’LL MAKE YOU LOOK COOL IN EVERYBODY’S EYES. THEY WILL THINK YOU ARE GLAMOROUS AND LIVING THE JET-SETTING LIFESTYLE. THEY WILL THINK YOU ARE CRAZY IF YOU DON’T DO IT! YOU’LL BE A H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E.”

This whole thing had started a couple hours earlier while seated around the dinner table at Grandma’s house.

“I just got an email,” John told me between forkfuls of Grandma’s macaroni and cheese. “There’s a job in Burma. I can have it if I want it.”

“For when?” I asked. “This school year?”

“Yeah. They need somebody right away. Apparently, the job is mine if I want it.”

But then the conversation changed. Grandma and the boys were talking about sailing, and we moved on to other topics.

And my mind fixated on that Burma thing.

John loves teaching advanced classes. This job was for AP math and science. At a fantastic school in Burma. And it would pay a lot more than I’m getting in speaking fees and book sales.

It sounded incredible. The opportunity of a lifetime, really.

That Niggling Little Voice was persistent. “It would be a new experience. You’ve never lived in Burma before.”

But then I stepped into the conversation. “You’re happy in Boise, Nancy,” I told myself. “You’ve got your beads, and the kids are happy in Boise. Their FIRST Robotics team… their advanced math/science school… swim team… cross country and track… Those are all great things. They are wonderful opportunities for Davy and Daryl.”

“But they aren’t Burma,” the Niggling Little Voice said. “Burma will have different opportunities.


“Listen to yourself,” I answered myself in my mind. “There are a lot of incredible things about Boise. The boys are settling in and establishing a home. That’s a good thing.”

“BUT IT’S BURMA!” screamed the little monster on my shoulder. “E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y would want to go to Burma! People will think your life is awesome if you go. THEY WILL THINK YOUR LIFE IS BORING IF YOU STAY IN IDAHO.”

The Niggling Little Voice told me to grab the opportunity and go.

The Loud Obnoxious Voice told me everybody else would think I’m cool if I went.

But I knew my heart wanted to be in Boise, Idaho.

“I know what I want,” I told them both. “And really, that’s all that matters.”

The longer the internal conversation went on, the more convinced I was that Boise was the right place. I would let John make the decision and, if he really wanted to go to Burma, I would seriously consider it. But secretly, I hoped he would say no.

And this morning, he told me he had already sent the email. No it was.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I was wrestling that internal demon, trying to rationalize my desire to settle into Boise and put down roots. Boise had called, but I had a hard time listening.

I felt I had to keep up with the Joneses, although they were different Joneses than most people try to keep up with. I had to impress people with my worldliness. I had set the bar high, and didn’t want to disappoint.

And then came the moment when it all made sense to me and I realized it was perfectly okay to stay in Boise. Now I know we made the right decision.

I knew all along that I didn’t want to move. I knew all along that Boise was the best place for us right now. From the moment John mentioned the job, I knew I didn’t want him to take it. I just had a hard time separating out *MY* desires from what I perceive others would want.

Who am I living my life for? For me and my family? Or “them”? Who will I allow to have a vote? The universe has spoken. I am glad I listened.

Will you listen too? Who are you answering to? Yourself? Or “them?” Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?


books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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13 Responses to On keeping up with the Joneses – whichever ones strike your fancy

  1. Tracey - Life Changing Year July 30, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Love how John just throws that into the conversation over Mac & Cheese!! And I love how you would have seriously considered it had he wanted to go! That speaks volumes about you Nancy.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel August 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      @Tracey – Life Changing Year, Aw, shucks. Thanks Tracey! I hadn’t even thought about how something like Burma probably wouldn’t be thrown out between bites of Mac-n-cheese in most families. Maybe we aren’t as “normal” as I like to believe?

  2. Mary - Green Global Travel July 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    It must have been a difficult moment for you to decide to be true to your heart. When I’m faced with things that I feel like I should do, I try to consider how I will feel if I don’t do them. If I think that I will feel relief by not doing it, then clearly my heart is not in it. I’m glad you were able to get through the struggle and be true to yourself. In my experience, it takes years of practice to learn that skill!

  3. Burkey July 30, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    Cool post. You know what..I think there’s too much emphasis on travel and transit in general in our society. The down side is that loss of deep community ties.
    To me “cool” is becoming the fact that after I stopped moving around so much, I have some people I know who I’ve known almost two decades now, who have been in the same place as I am. Maybe it’s a love thing.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel August 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      @Burkey, I think there are great things about travel, but equally as great things about putting down roots and being part of a greater community. It’s not that one is better than the other; just different. That said, for US right now, being stationary is better 🙂

  4. Barbara Weibel August 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Great story about listening to your heart instead of giving in to external pressers, whether they are real or perceived.

  5. Nancy Sathre-Vogel August 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    @Gina, It does happen to us all – way too frequently! I am just so happy that I’ve grown to be comfortable enough in my choices to be able to listen to the dialogue and then make the right decision.

  6. Pat August 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Saw your post on the guard shack today (L.I.). I’m buying your book today, looks great!

  7. Colleen August 25, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    What a timely post! There’s a bit of a crossroads in my work situation, and I’ve been struggling with which way to go. Staying the course has felt right on many levels, even though going a different direction has been presented as the “best” thing to do. Thanks!

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel August 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      @Colleen, It is so important to do what feels best to YOU. I was very surprised at how easily I could have fallen into the trap of what “everybody else” would think.

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