So, a few months ago an amount of money bigger than I have ever had the pleasure of having, arrived in my account. I was lucky enough to get booked for an international job that paid really well.
I have never really liked money. Never understood it or valued it. I suppose my lack of interest in it was and is because I don’t come from a family that had/has it in abundance and therefore do not come from a culture of enjoying it. I have never learned how to have it, hold it and enjoy it without anxiety.
Before this money arrived in my life I had already divided it up and carefully counseled myself through the process of excitement and then grief it would cause me. The excitement because (any number in my account with more than one zero behind it) “Oh my god, I’m rich!!!” The grief because, any number with less than four zeros, in this world, is actually not that much money.
So the money arrives. First I allow myself to breathe. It just so happened that everything that could possibly go wrong had gone wrong, just before the money arrived. So I breathe out a sigh of relief and pay for all of the things that I should have paid for the previous month. While I’m pretending to be an adult I consider going to the gynecologist and maybe even the dentist. Those thoughts disappear fast, like hunger when you have an empty fridge.
Next, I think about buying champagne, but it’s 8am in the morning, grey and rainy outside and I’m home alone. I think about bathing in champagne and then realise that this would probably just give me thrush, make me sticky and leave me scrubbing the bath for hours. Now I’m sad and rich and confused.
I keep looking at my bank balance and decide to distribute parts of the money into my different accounts for safe-keeping. Now the original balance is lower, I feel more sad and I am beginning to feel pissed off with my lack of inspiration regarding fun things to do with my newly acquired riches.
In my mind I was going to receive this money in the form of a crown and a castle and a big gold dress. The money would be placed in piles at my feet whilst beautiful people served me fancy foods with French names I could not pronounce. I would be fanned by big leaves and the air would be fresh and warm and if and when I chose, I could go to my window and look upon my land and then turn around and look upon my pile of money.
In my mind, this money would make everything smell like puppies and allow for an endless supply of chocolate milk and ice-cream. I would have a garden made of champagne fountains and an area made of trampolines and obviously a whole room of mirrors and dress up clothes. I would just eat and drink and jump and pose.
As you can see, I have no understanding of wealth or money. So here I am with my four zeros, I have decided to service our car, hire a plumber to fix the cold tap in our kitchen (it hasn’t worked for an entire year), fix my mom’s fireplace and start Pilates classes.
Getting money in winter is so boring. Getting money when you are older than 25 is also really boring. Basically being momentarily rich as a young adult is not as fun as I imagined it would be. These zeros have got me placing money in accounts that I won’t have access to unless I die, or am in an accident. Where is the fun in that?
I took the 3 of us out for a spa treatment (mom, sister and me). We were equal parts excited and awkward. None of us had ever been to a spa before and so none of us knew how to be, what to do, what was allowed and not allow. I needed someone to talk me through the emotional journey that this money would take me on. I needed someone to talk me through the feeling of momentary ownership, entitlement and accessibility.
No one could do it. No one knew how.
We don’t all come from money. This, for me, is the difference between being rich and being wealthy. Wealth is generational and has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have. Being rich is like being full. You are full now, but at some point, you know that again, you will become hungry, tired, anxious —— poor.
It’s been fun. Really fun. But as I watch the zeros disappear I begin to understand that having money has not taught me anything other than to share more generously and to celebrate without anxiety. I deserve to celebrate and spend without anxiety.
(Soon I’ll be broke again and complaining about life. Give me this time to celebrate).
We all deserve this freedom.