Caught With Your Shirt Off? Own it!

At the beginning of the week, I had a dream where I was hanging out with a variety of random people from my life, both male and female. Quite a bit into the dream, I realized I wasn’t wearing a shirt. I was just standing there in my bra and jeans. This wasn’t the typical dream where you realize it right away and freak out. I had been having full conversations with these people for quite a while. We had done stuff. And THEN I realized I had no shirt. At this point, I was horrified, of course, but I couldn’t just hope no one noticed. OF COURSE they had noticed! How long can you hang out with a person and not realize they are missing something as basic as a shirt? The answer is half a millisecond. And I had been with these people for hours! I had no choice but to just own it. None of them had mentioned it. And no one had treated me any differently shirtless, so I just decided to just own the situation.

I don’t remember what happened in the dream after that, but I woke up empowered. I was different all day. I was firm in my choices. I didn’t make excuses. I wasn’t apologetic about my feelings. I didn’t feel like I needed to impress anyone. It was great! I didn’t realize this was connected to the dream until I went to bed that night. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was shirtless again and I remembered it all.

I honestly hope to never be caught without a shirt in reality. But I also hope to not live my life in fear of it happening. This dream taught me an important lesson. If I say: “Consider a giant party where friends, ex-boyfriends, family friends, your parents’ friends are all gathered together and eating food. What is the worst thing that could happen?” Going shirtless might be one of the things you list. And my first thought in my dream when I looked down to see my bare belly and white bra was “this is the worst possible scenario.” But it was too late. There I was, standing in the middle of all these people and I had no shirt. The bad thing had already happened. And I had two choices: scream and retreat and never show my face again or move on.

“Baring all” is hard. We always keep opinions, passions, or parts of our personalities figuratively clothed because we don’t want to stand out, be ridiculed, or end up embarrassed. After spending a day figuratively shirtless, I felt great! I got a lot done. I didn’t worry about how my actions would be interpreted or thought of by others. And I realized how much I adapted conversations, actions, and personality quirks to the people around me.

I’ve had days where I fall flat on my face in front of everyone (both figuratively and literally) and the rest of the day I try to recover by proving I’m more than just the girl that fell. This is the wrong mentality. Everyone falls. Everyone gets caught shirtless (please not in reality). But instead of pretending it wasn’t us that fell, it’s time to OWN IT. Prove you can get up and be the person that fell down AND recovered in an amazing way!

This all goes back to the ultimate mantra of Be Yourself orΒ Just Do You. If you’re in debt, the bad thing has already happened. It’s time to own it and move forward. If you’re not embarrassed about your finances, it’s still time to own them. The things that make you excited are not the same things that get me excited. And what’s “best” on paper isn’t always the best way for you to save money. I travel with 3 kids and that’s worth my savings. I buy individual dishwasher pods because it’s easier to get them in the dishwasher and lock it before my son makes it over to pull dishes out. More expensive? Yes. Worth it for me? Yup. We are aggressively paying off our mortgage with a less than 4% interest rate early because we want to be completely debt-free. No apologies. We are focusing on our Roth-IRAs instead of a 401k or traditional IRA because it feels better to us. It’s that technical.Β Going shirtless feels great!

Shirt off


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  1. There is something really liberating about falling or failing every once in a while. It’s awful in the moment, but realizing what we have the capacity and tenacity to endure it really inspiring.

    • MaggieBanks

      It IS liberating to fall sometimes! I agree with you. We spend a lot of time building ourselves up that it gets exhausting. When we fall, we get back to where we really want to be and we don’t have to pretend we’re someone we’re not. Maybe it’s great to be awkward, as you say! πŸ™‚

  2. Love it, Maggie! There is something very real about having the confidence to move through life and not be ashamed, to make decisions and commit to them, to do the very best that you can in all facets of your life. If things don’t work out to plan, that’s fine – accept that and move on. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody falls. What separates the truly successful from the rest is what we do after we fall.

  3. This sounds like it would be really freeing! I’ve often felt that we have to be really careful about the things we choose to worry or fret about. There’s only so many things that you can devote your energy too, might as well pick the ones that are important!

    • MaggieBanks

      Exactly. I’m so glad I realized this. There are so many things we worry about without even realizing we worry about them. We give them brain space and pretend we don’t. Getting them out and just realizing bad things are going to happen and we’ll just have to get up frees up a lot of brain space!

  4. That’s a great attitude! Not everything we do is the best either but it is worth it for us at this point. Last November it would’ve been easy to hide the outrageous grocery overspend but we were both like, “ehh screw it. We spent it and it is what it is. No sense trying to hide it just own it and see what comments come out of it, lol.” We actually did laugh at the ridiculousness of it. It was freeing putting it out there and admitting that yep we’re not perfect. πŸ™‚

    • MaggieBanks

      Isn’t it great? This little corner is already a very freeing space for me that I don’t unmask in the life I’m currently living. It’s great to just own what we do and move on.

  5. I love this and completely agree! It’s always so liberating to admit when we aren’t perfect and I always appreciate how you encourage open dialogue on your blog πŸ™‚

    Here are my “shirtless” moments:
    1. I’ve started driving to work everyday instead of taking the bus and save 45 minutes EACH WAY. Worth it x1000000
    2. I buy frozen, cut and pre-cooked chicken instead of buying it raw and cooking it each night/every few nights. Slightly more expensive but totally worth it when I come home from a long day and am starving
    3. Aggressively paying off student loans with 3% interest. Debt freedom >>> anything else (love that you agree with this!)

    Happy Friday, Maggie!

    • MaggieBanks

      This is why it’s so hard to make sweeping declarations for personal finance. “Stop ordering coffee!” “Get rid of your TV!” – everyone is different and there are things that are “stupid financial decisions” that each of us make that are worth it for us. Being open about them is an awesome feeling. It works because I’m me and knowing who I am and what is worth it to me makes all the difference! Thanks for sharing your “shirtless” financial choices!

  6. Yes! I love it! I think part of being in the PF community is baring it all (financially speaking) to complete strangers. Doing that forces us to be honest about our finances and who we really are.Finances are typically a piece of ourselves that are kept private from others. In the past, I have lived in over-priced apartments, drove cars I couldn’t afford, and went out to eat when I knew I didn’t have the money to do so. Being a PF bloggers really keeps us motivated and, even more important, accountable. Now you’ll excuse me while I go strip down πŸ˜‰

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    • MaggieBanks

      Wait wait wait – oh, you mean figuratively strip down… that’s allowed. πŸ™‚

  7. Doing something non-optimally is almost always better than doing nothing at all. Paying down sub-4% debt may not be the best returns, but it’s a hell of a lot better than not putting that extra money anywhere. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good!

    Like you wrote, just recognize it, own it, and carry on.

  8. The more we bare, the less we have to hide, and the less we have to keep track of the little white lies we tell just to look good. Great post, Maggie. And I couldn’t help but think of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine’s freaking out because her friend has the audacity to walk down the streets of NY just wearing a bra.

  9. YES, Maggie! I love this empowering post of being unapologetic about your choices/wants/goals(even if it meant facing an humiliating experience in a dream)! The more years outside of college, the more confident I begin to feel – even if that means straying away from the norm/mold. The more you focus on what you would like to accomplish & the ways you go about it that work best for you, the more you can flourish! Not to mention, it allows you to help others along the way. πŸ™‚

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s very freeing being firm in who you are and what you want. No apologies. (though I prefer to keep my shirt on in real life!)

  10. Yes! High five! I’m such a sucker for any stories of women feeling empowered, especially friends. So yay for you! πŸ™‚ I agree with every single word here, especially making no apologies for your own choices, even if they aren’t the “best.” We’re also paying down our mortgage aggressively (it’s barely 3%), and have gotten plenty of flack for that. But who cares? It’s our money and it feels right to us. I don’t buy those little dishwasher pods, but I’m sure you could find another 1000 examples around our house of “wasteful” spending that feels right to us. Have a great weekend!

    • MaggieBanks

      I guess it takes an embarrassing dream to get me empowered! But I’m on fire this week. Life is grand and even the big mistakes I keep making seem awesome. πŸ™‚ Happy weekend to you as well!

  11. It not about the failure, more about how you react to it. Good for you! We didn’t talk about our debt for years, now we own it and share our story with anyone.

    • MaggieBanks

      Owning it empowers you! Look how far you’ve come since owning your debt situation!

  12. Laura Beth

    Wow Maggie, this definitely made me think. I hope to never be caught shirtless in more ways than one!

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s good to be shirtless figuratively. It changes the way you act and you start being more true to yourself.

  13. With about two weeks before I give my formal notice, I’ve been starting a bit of a “senior slide” at work. Not worrying so much about the details, focusing more on what I want to focus on, and being a bit more outspoken. It’s a “shirtless” approach that feels good and refreshing after so many years of worrying about everything MegaCorp wanted me to worry about.

    • MaggieBanks

      Yes! Being willing to say what you actually think is so freeing in so many ways!

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