Honor Where You Are Today
Fresh highlights, expensive boots, new clothes, black designer peacoat, going to nice dinners… I used to think it mattered that I appeared successful. Why? I’m not really sure. I know I was embarrassed most of my life about who I was. And, I used to thing that if actual successful people thought I was successful, they’d want to associate with me and this would make me more successful.
Yes, it sounds a bit silly when you say it out loud.
Success and money went hand it hand in my mind. I had no money but didn’t really understand it beyond this lone abstract of something other people had that I knew I wanted. So, I thought, okay, I’ll just pretend.
Pretending doesn’t do anything but hold you back from working towards things you really want.
It’s the equivalent of paying models to hang out with instead of working out, eating healthy and practicing self care rituals to look like a million bucks yourself. You might delude yourself into thinking, “I totally look hotter” hanging around all these models! But, you don’t.
It never occurred to me at 19 years old, or 25, that I was SUPPOSED to be poor. Fresh from high school, struggling through college, entry level jobs, internships and all the trials of being ‘on our own for the first time.’ It is quintessential to be 20 years old, living off cups of noodles, dollar tacos and dreams. In hindsight this seems so obvious. Did I mention I really didn’t ‘get it!’? :) I was a baby adult for the love of god! So why was I so uncomfortable with owning where I was at?
A lot of it had to do with not understanding how money, success or opportunity really worked.
My mom did her best to educate me. I understood 401ks, Roth IRAs, Money Markets, Compound Interest; all the basics of Personal Finance and investing. I learned I could slowly, after 700 years of working a thankless 9-5, with a little luck of a lady called 7% interest on my side, retire one day.
Logical as it was, at 20 years old, waiting 50 years to “retire” seemed an impossibly long time. I loved my parents but I didn’t want to wait my whole life as they had. I needed another truth (or lie) to believe in.
I wanted to travel now, go to the Caribbean and Europe before I was old and gray, a nice apartment, cool clothes and to try that Michelin Star restaurant a few blocks over that served flavored foams! If I had to wait until I was 875, I would die. Literally! I couldn’t wait that long, I had to be RICH now, I needed to be rich NOW. This was my story. And I had no frickin’ idea how. So, I would pretend to be rich in my $500 black peacoat and my $20 plastic boots.
I remember walking back to my New York City apartment one winter night after a lovely evening of dinner and drinking with strangers to my SoHo pre-war walk up. My $20 fake plastic boots were absolute crap, my socks had holes and my toes were soaked to the bone. It was snowing, no slushing, and I was freezing. For a distraction, I called my sister for company while I walked home. I had no money for a cab and joked about my frozen toe-sicles and how I must be an alcoholic because I spent all my money on booze instead of socks.
When people talk about “A ha” moments. That was one. No sooner were the words out of my mouth did I think. Day-um, guess I’ve got a few things to reprioritize. I cried a bit, then we laughed as sisters do, and my toe-sicles thawed that night as I slept in wine induced slumber.
It wasn’t the next day exactly, perhaps it wasn’t even that year (being December and all). But I knew things had to change and that it would have to start with me owning where I was. It meant admitting I was an administrative assistant, poor AF, and had a long way to go. It meant admitting that my nightly routines of long runs, Netflix, and partying all night meant I had zero idea of what to do with my life.
Like being new to anything, I was terrible at it. Terrible at managing my money, terrible at following through on that writing class or dance class I wanted to take; terrible at staying home when I wanted to “just go out.” I eventually went and tried new things; but not often enough. I had all these stories of failure or WORSE, the fear of letting MYSELF down. These stories were so strong that 90% of the time I convinced myself it was safer to stay were I was. Do nothing, drink, run, work 9-5, “Stay safe,” I said.
When you practice something over and over again, you get better at it. I was good at being safe but in direct conflict I was practicing this ownership of being me. With this ownership came deep longings. Deep longings to travel, to have more, to be more, to love, to be creative, to create … these desires started a slow but persistent drum in my heart.
If I’m honest, the desire to create was less like a drum and more like a fire. It was relentless and powerful. I brainstormed a hundred ideas before I tried any of them. Each idea, each attempt, each whole hearted ‘this is it’ wasn’t ‘IT’, but it lead me down the path to another.
Looking back I realize now where the half truths and deceptions to myself about “being successful already” really came from. (Not that I was fooling ANYONE!) They came from knowing I was worth so much more. That one day, I would find my way there (where ever that is), scrapping, struggling, and hustling until I was shinning my light for everyone to see. It was never about the money, it was about my self worth, my desires, my wish for significance and contribution. Okay, and yes, it was also about the money.
Money doesn’t just follow money or hard work, it is a symbol of contribution. It shows you how much you’ve created, how strategic and unique your work has been, your value add to the world around you. People vote daily with their dollars and money flows to those who have the vision to see what other’s need. (Side note: Money is many other things as well but alas, subjects for another time and post.)
So, please, stop pretending. Stop playing yourself down, stop playing yourself up. It isn’t necessary. If you have the drive to be more = take action! If you have the drive to be less = ask yourself why? If you’re in a job you hate, change it. If you want to start a business, start it. Embrace each journey as a learning experience and let go of all those “safe”, delusional, excuses.
Let’s make a pact. Let’s stand together and all OWN where we are TODAY. Rome wasn’t built in a day and that blogger, basketball player or podcast host your so jealous of? … It took them 12 years of mind numbing hustling to get there. 12 YEARS!!!!
Humans, we love a good rags to riches story. Our journey’s are what make the good stories, not “The End.”
Repeat after me: I, StevieAnn Nance (NAME), am an Executive Assistant (CURRENT OCCUPATION). I have been hustling for Financial Freedom (INPUT DREAM HERE) for several years, but today I work my 9-5 (CURRENT SCHEDULE) and am proud of it!
That’s right girl (gents and gender neutrals!) OWN IT!
XOXO - The Wealth Babe.
P.S. Have a similar story or perhaps you can just relate? Share your story and tag us @TheWealthBabe.