A lot of what I’ve been reading lately has made me come back around to this post which I wrote in December but was previously too chicken-shit to post, because ya know, there’s just oodles of people out there reading. 🙂
my most favoritest picture, taken by sej
When I picked up Smart Couples Finish Rich I was NOT expecting to have a major life revelation. But for a number of reasons, some big issues that had been in the back of my brain were dragged front and center, culminating in an SCFR-induced meltdown.
It began with a post of Meg’s that talked about fashion and created a great analogy about taking risks, and owning your choices. I was really loving on it until I read a downer comment that got into how not cool the commenter thought bringing fashion into things was.
See, I have this thing where I am super empathetic. I have been told it is admirable, and many people like this about me, but man, it can get in the way sometimes. I read comments like this, and think, oh wow, this girl kind of has a point. She’s clearly very hurt, and while obviously it wasn’t directed at her personally, I see what she’s saying about the exclusivity and elitism of fashion.
But then I let the dust in my head settle for a while, and thought about it again. And this time my reaction went more like: "Uhh, noooo. Stop taking it personally! Look at the bigger picture! Fashion isn’t your thing, but that doesn’t mean you should demean it being anyone else’s!”
Because the thing was, I was sitting there feeling GUILTY about wanting to put more fashion on my blog, all because *this* girl didn’t like fashion?!
What had seemed particularly unfair was that the blogger Meg referenced in her uncommon references to fashion was someone who seemed very committed to making it accessible not elitist! And this is something I believe in strongly. I looove clothes, and shoes, and generally wearing them, and my friends tell me I’m pretty f*cking good at it, so why wouldn’t I post things about how I shop and how I pick and choose things, on my average Target-scaled budget, so that people who are looking for inspiration or advice, etc. might enjoy it?
It is crazy how intrinsically we women can let ourselves be intimidated by other women. If someone is better or has more experience at something that you are interested in than you are, then aren’t they someone to learn from, not hate on?
Lesson learned: Be proud of what you love and some people will respect you for it. Others won’t. You can’t be all things for all people. This I have difficulty remembering.
It’s this mindset of scarcity that brings me to the next thing I learned. Meg said it best: yesterday:
I’ve been thinking about how, as women, we often undervalue ourselves, our life stories, and what we’re capable of, and that leads to lost potential. We think, "I can’t do that, I can’t dream that big, I’m being selfish to even think about this, I don’t deserve to earn (or have my company earn) that much money, I shouldn’t have delusions of grandeur." And when this happens, we all lose. Think of all those projects that could have been created, those businesses that could have thrived, that money that could be flowing back into our communities. When we cut ourselves off at the knees we lose all that, our communities lose all that, we all lose.
[Read more: http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/04/reclaiming-wife-women-money-and-self-worth-part-ii/#ixzz1IuH3j7A7]
So at the beginning of Smart Couples Finish Rich, they ask you to define your values. (I will save the discussion of how Scott and my values did and did not align and that portion of the subsequent meltdown for another day.)
It was the first time I thought openly about why I wanted to earn money, umm, ever. Usually I just chalk it up to my upbringing, and my single mother scarring me into feeling I needed a stable job that paid the bills. (The concept of depending on anyone else for any kind of financial support was totally out of the question.) But I’ve recently realized that some of my “wants” are scary ingrained. Like, why did 5-yr old me get hooked on Travel + Leisure and Architectural.Digest before I could even read? So I think what my mom was really saying was that I needed to get a job to pay the bills so that I could afford what I already wanted deep inside.
It’s not easy to admit it, because I think culturally beauty gets tied up with vanity, and materialism, and greed, but it’s the driving force behind my life.
In the heat of the moment, here is what I wrote about my values:
I want abundance.
As in, I want A LOT of money.
There I said it, it’s out there now, and there’s no turning back.
See, I was once a little girl with big ideas.
And then somewhere along the line I was made to feel that those big wants and big dreams were silly and unrealizable.
And that little girl almost faded away, and I’ve been fighting to bring her back ever since I noticed she was gone.
But years of ingrained expectations and norms are stubborn.
Nice girls don’t need a lot of money. Much less A LOT of money.
That would be greedy.
Well, then I need to learn to own my greediness.
Why do I want all this money?
Because I love beautiful things.
Dear god, I just flat out said it, and there’s no stopping me now.
Beauty feeds my soul.
It sustains my very existence.
I want to be surrounded by it at all times, and you know what, that’s A-FUCKING-OK.
And I want to take my big ideas and DO THEM.
And take the people I love for the ride, and make a difference in the lives of others.
I want to save beautiful things and places from the brink of destruction.
And I want to be fulfilled by it, by knowing I made a mark somewhere.
And by the security of my success, of knowing that I can help anyone I love who needs me. Because so many people have helped me already.
And then I let Scott read it and he just looked at me and shrugged, in that boy simplicity. The “This is all the crying is about? Yea, ok cool.” And I kind of wanted to stab him, because, this IS fucking scary, this admitting for real what I want, what I need, out of my time on the planet. Even in the most general of terms.
Lesson learned: Admitting your deepest needs gives you everything and nothing. Because, now that I know, what next?