Well, hello there. How are things going in your neck of the woods?
I’ve been thinking essentially non-stop about this post: how to phrase it, how to engage you, heck- just how to explain myself and my thoughts lately. I can start this by saying that I just finished another of Geneen Roth’s fabulously frank books, “Lost and Found.” If you are all up in the news hizzy (please forgive my newfound favorite faux-gangster word; this was all Michael’s doing), you caught the big Ponzi scheme debacle with Bernie Madoff. I still feel for those who lost life-shattering amounts of money in the whole case, and Geneen actually happened to be one of those people. She never gives a full-on amount, but says it was “twenty years of work” down the drain. Through the book, she goes on to unravel being completely ignorant with her money, lending it to fast-talking salesman-like people who she assumed knew more than she did. These kinds of blind moves led to her falling into some major money issues. The connection that she felt with these smooth-talking people were, essentially, a throwback to her Dad growing up. He was completely absent in the family, but came home and “wagged” his money-making power over the entire family.
Money seems to be just as much a hot-button issue as food is. Everyone has their own unique problem with it UNLESS they are willing to get uncomfortable and fix it from an internal level. Food and money are parallels because you can: diet and restrict both of them and splurge and binge with both of them. We tend to hide how much we’ve spent (or eaten) and feel frenzied to have (eat) more than everyone else around us. These issues trace far, far back into our childhood when we first learned about the role of money- both the bad and good sides. We learned we had to invest our time in order to earn it; we’re always on this eternal quest to reach the point where we have “enough.” Emotional cues can send us on spending sprees just like we do with eating: a term we loving catchphrase as “retail therapy,” as if 6 more colors of the same sweater will make us feel “whole” or “complete.” Addictions are addictions. Vices make the uncomfortable slightly more comfortable in a way.
But what is “enough?”
Easily, this magic number is different for everyone… or does it even exist? I can simply name (using all fingers and toes) celebrities, movie stars, business execs, and so forth, even with their multiple millions STILL feel that nagging anxiety over not reaching IT yet.
Money and food are two sharp, double-edged swords. You need an adequate amount to cover all of your basic needs, some of your wants, plus the security to survive in case disaster strikes (a food pantry, or your savings account). If you have “too much,” you have the option of a) parading around with extravagant items or b) keeping silent as to not break the “status quo” in your family and group of friends.
Money is automatically tagged with stereotypes left and right. If you happen to be “rich,” you can be seen as snotty, arrogant, snide, bitchy, manipulative. If you are “poor,” you may be hit with labels like “lazy, worthless, underprivileged, weak.”
In my teen years, my Dad’s business grew so exponentially that I remember our lifestyle changing very much. For years, we were eating from my mom’s prepared food storage (lovingly termed “bomb shelter”), I wore hand-me-downs from family friends, and my mom did her best to cut and style my hair. I remember all of the teasing at school, when I looked around and saw plenty of girls my age wearing fashionable clothes from The Gap, Hollister, even Aeropostale. It seemed that the pronounced labels across their chests actually read “Popular,” “Beautiful” and “Worthwhile.”
When my father starting bringing home a regular paycheck, the business booming, stocks rising, suddenly I could afford a monthly trip to Maurices, Old Navy, and finally had a pair of my very own jeans. Years passed, my confidence began to grow, and then other major things began happening: my Dad began to afford new cars, nice vacations, and we eventually moved to a beautiful house on the other side of our town. The girls that I came to know as friends had accepted me as I was- old clothes and all, and I didn’t want them to know that we were beginning to live luxuriously. I didn’t want to be different, abandoned. My Dad eventually bought a vacation home in Maui and it was years before I ever let my friends and peers in on that knowledge. I was the loner growing up, sqeuaking by with not so much as a few words in any class each year… and now things had flipped. I didn’t want to lose the small sense of normal teenage life that I knew.
On the flip side, I experienced what this new money cost my family and I: my Dad. For him, he traded in for ballet recitals, piano recitals, soccer games, seeing my brothers and I off to Prom and other dances… our teenage life. Memories he will never get back. You know that cliched statement of “some things are priceless.” These moments are invaluable because they don’t get a second chance, another go. You can’t go back in time to change what you might’ve had.
Here I am, now, in my own apartment with nice things surrounding me; some that I’ve earned through working on my business, and some from my Mom. They were housewarming gifts for my new transition and chapter in my life. My business is doing pretty well, but in all honestly, I am at a standstill in progression. It seems that I can’t allow myself to actually succeed at this or anything simply because to me that equates to my Dad is some way. Growing up, I learned that you either kept home, cleaned and cooked OR made the money. Not both. There are many days each week, where I wake up motivated and by noon, I am paralyzed in my mind again. I don’t allow myself to step outside my comfort zone and talk to new people, potential customers, for fear that I may actually make a breakthrough. Many people have commented on how intelligent I can be, clever, witty, smart, funny… but what good is all of that if I live in fear inside my own mind? What would this mean if I became very wealthy on my own? How great would be the sacrifice? I can’t bear to lose Michael, lose my Mom or brothers, and friends I have if I break this invisible barrier. I won’t lose my loved ones to work, like my Dad did. And folding my clothes, doing my dishes, and sweeping sure won’t pay my bills.
So, thus is my current struggle. Deep down, I know I can and SHOULD do this- be
good great at my career. I’m trying to learn how to be both people: Career Girl and Loving Girlfriend. Career Girl and Supportive Sister and Daughter.