I am really, really good with money. I have paid off lots of debt, negotiated amazing raises and job offers, and succeeded as a freelancer and self-employed coach for the past two years. I am a wizard at budgeting and have helped friends go from zero to five figures in their savings accounts.
And this is a post about how clenched my ass is about money, and how I am learning to unclench.
Money mindset begins in childhood, with conscious and unconscious messages about money that we learn from our families, friends, and the media.
Before my parents divorced, I assume we had an upper middle class lifestyle. My parents owned our home and the Christmas gifts were not lacking. We had bicycles and went out to eat regularly. We ate and wore name brand. I remember panicking when I needed glasses, because of how expensive they were — but my dad assured me it was not a matter of expense.
Once the divorce started, however, this quality of life was no more. My mother declared bankruptcy after getting stuck with a bunch of marital debt. Dad apparently just… stopped paying the mortgage until our house was foreclosed on. Living with a single mom of four (with three of us living at home), we were on food stamps, mom worked upwards of three jobs at any given time, and one particularly rough year, the Christmas gifts were donated. School clothes came from Goodwill, and asking for anything indulgent at the grocery store was not a wise move.
Fast forward another fifteen-ish years, and I was out of college and living with my first husband. The Christmas gifts were on my credit card, and it made me feel like a Real Adult to be able to treat my family and husband to amazing gifts and not worry about how much they cost. (I suspect my dad may have had a similar approach, now that I am writing these stories in the same place).
When that divorce was imminent, my husband removed his direct deposit from our joint account, leaving me with no access to cash and no job after just graduating with my Master’s. I did get custody of the car we bought together, the down payment for which wiped out my savings at the time.
Within six months of moving back in with my mother in 2012, I had a full time job, paid off that credit card, refinanced my car, and got an apartment of my own. Within a couple more years, the car was paid off and I was down to just my student loans. I was also deep, deep in my Dave Ramsey bullshit. (We no longer stan Dave Ramsey in this house).
Second marriage, paid off a lot of my husband’s debt, blah blah.
This brings us to today in our story.
When I started my journey of full-time entrepreneurship in 2020, I had $10,000 or so in savings. As of today, it’s down to a few hundred.
As my safety net dwindled, I started to freak the fuck out.
I forgot how good I am with money.
I didn’t believe that I could survive without a safety net.
I started to wonder if I couldn’t make it as an entrepreneur.
I applied to jobs. JOBS. Jobs that I would HATE. I had twenty open tabs of job openings and cried for two days resigning myself to the eventuality of being someone’s employee again.
And then, a conversation with a friend helped me remember that I am actually good with money, I am actually an entrepreneur, I am actually surviving, and my safety does not necessarily come from my savings.
I realized that the reason I was freaking out so hard was because I had needed a savings account and a safety net when I left my abuser in 2018. Without that cash on hand, I would have been trapped and might still be.
Realizing this let me relax and breathe. I understood that my fear was not for the present version of me. It was echoing through the past and activating my flight trauma response. I wasn’t safe, and I needed money to leave. That was true then. But it’s not true now.
I haven’t been able to be safe in a home for a long time, but I am now.
And spending time with this part of me, this money-wounded, traumatized part of myself, was so healing. And it helped me release my fear around my savings, and it helped me release my worth and success from being tied to my bank account.
I am an awesome coach, a great writer, a wonderful friend, a top tier partner, and so much more. None of that has anything to do with money.
And in this release, I was able to reflect on the concept of surrender.
When we talk about manifesting, part of it is surrendering to the universe and trusting that your intentions will grow. But you also have to take action. I wasn’t really doing either, when it came to money. I wanted more, but was unwilling to let it go. And as long as my savings safety net was there, I didn’t really have to show up fully as an entrepreneur.
There’s no shame in this. It’s normal.
It is normal to freak out when you venture outside the norm. The 9-5 norm. The multiple side hustles norm. The working for the man norm.
As long as I could rely on my savings to bail me out, it didn’t matter if I didn’t show up all the way. It didn’t matter if I didn’t feel confident. It didn’t matter, because I had a safety net.
This revelation was… a lot.
Now I have no choice. It’s either take action and trust the universe, or go get a job.
I know which one I am picking.
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