As a kid, one of the most common fears is the scary monster under the bed. Whether it haunts you from behind the walls of the closet or tucked away in the dark, the idea of this beast haunts us. As you know, with time we outgrow this fear as a result of maturity and the reassurance from our parents that “honey, it’s not real”. We look back and scoff at the idea that we were so afraid of something we could not see. But as we grow older, another fear arises. Another monster that sometimes haunts us.
The US dollar bill is roughly 2.6 inches wide, about 6 inches long, .0043 inches thick, and weighs a single gram. Such a small piece of paper that has so much power and control over how we live our every day lives.
I’m terrified of money.
Money has been the root of so much pain and struggles in my life – always the biggest challenge to overcome. Some of my very first memories as a little girl were of my mother sitting down my father as they signed away our home and belongings in Ohio. Mom had decided that we needed to take control of our lives and she signed my dad up for college – it was the time that he started walking the walk. She wanted more for her life and her family than crossing our fingers from paycheck to paycheck. It was all about ensuring that we were taken care of. So from the time I was little, I always saw how important it was to be financially intelligent and stable.
I’ve spent the vast majority of my life analyzing how much things cost and how everything is so darn expensive. For example, when I used to accompany my mother at the grocery store, I’d always step away from the register as she’d prepare to pay. I always had this anxiety about seeing the final cost because I just couldn’t stand to see it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to paint this sob story about “how we were poor and struggling” but we definitely weren’t living the life of milk and honey. We always had enough to last, but it was teaching me a very valuable lesson about the severity of having money.
Going to college was my first stab at handling money myself. Talk about shell shock! Seeing student loans up to five figures knowing that one day, they’d come knocking wasn’t the most promising first step. And you know what they say about poor college students. Digging through the crevices of the couch for change for food or gas. Yeah, that’s all pretty true. Fortunately, though, my parents were there to help. Mom has always been so wise and equipped me with the skills to make the most of what I had.
It’s really helped motivate me. It’s kept me focused and driven to always aspire to do all that I can to provide for myself and hopefully one day, for a beautiful family of my own. So all I could think of during my undergrad was graduating to land a fancy high-paying job! But with more power, comes a great deal of responsibility. I landed a pretty great first job after college. I’ve been pretty blessed. I was being paid enough to move out on my own and sign up for quite a few bills. It’s been secure enough that I’ve been able to take the training wheels off and stop needing mommy and daddy for a little change here and there.
But boy is adulthood expensive!
Mom and dad made it look so easy. Everything has a price tag. Rent. Food. Gasoline. Clothes. Pets. And god forbid you want to “treat yourself” every now and then. So forgive me if I sound naive but I’m overwhelmed by so much responsibility. It’s a lot to juggle. I still feel pretty torn between being a young person and being a woman. I have quite a few friends still in school who have allowances, free cell phones, and a shiny new car from daddy. On the contrary, I work alongside such established and poised professionals who seem to have the adulting thing down to a science.
I feel lost, sitting somewhere in the middle.
I want to do so many things! I want to stock my pantry, move into a nicer apartment closer to work, and help support my family as we pick up the broken pieces. This monster with its claws and its roar, pressure me to have it all together. I guess I just have to take it easy and give myself a little break.
But this is only the beginning; I’m only scratching the surface. I’m discovering myself, exploring who I am and who I aspire to become. After all, money is only an object. It’s this big scary monster under my bed that isn’t real.