After an exhausting week and a drunken weekend, I woke up to an email from my bank informing me that my checking account balance had fallen below $25. This occurrence happened because, for whatever reason, I had a memory lapse and thought that I was at my old job, where I was a regularly disrespected peon that got paid on the first and fifteenth. When I got that email, I quickly realized that I actually get paid on the sixth and twenty-first. Five days is no biggie, right? Right. But I cringed anyway and had an entire “whoa is me moment” which was followed by an overwhelming calmness.
Being that I am an aspiring adult, I sat back and analyzed how this happened and why I reacted the way I did. The resulting epiphany was one that I could only try to describe in words, as I am doing now, because of its audacity. My name is Stephen R. Freshley, and I…am a brokeaholic.
I came to this realization by first trying to understand why an overwhelming calmness came over me upon being informed that my bank account was under $25. The first thing that I heard resounding in my mind was Tia’s voice, a co-worker of mine, saying “I think you like being broke…and bragging about it”. I’m a scientist at heart so no theory, however plausible or implausible, goes untested. That statement caused me to think about my college days when I would scrounge for money, and I think the youngins today call it “hustling.” It was a simple time. I didn’t have to question what I would eat, I ate what was available AND liked it. I didn’t have to question where my money was going; I knew it was going towards my living expenses. I would keep up with my habits if I could afford them. If not, they went away on their own. That was it. No planning or fore thought needed. I was constantly in survival mode. So much so that I believe that that is all I knew. Now I make way more money than I ever did in my college years, but still not enough to call myself middle class per se.
I applied this theory to other parts of my life. The conclusion was the same. For example, I could not understand how I’d get 800,000 things done when I have a million things to do. But only get five things done, when I have only ten things to do. I was never taught the art of self-management. Then I recalled my childhood where every decision was made for me. If my mom didn’t choose it, it wasn’t right. It all reminds me of a time when I was a teenager, and I’d come home with a bag of incense. I burned them in my room for about two days before my mom stormed in the room yelling “what are you doing in here? Put that out!” I asked her what was the matter with incense to which she had no good reply. She eventually said, “Well the Bible says you are not supposed to burn incense.” Afterward, she took them and walked away without any further explanation. I sat on my bed, upset because there was nothing I could do. I wasn’t an idiot, I had thumbed through the Bible enough to know that she’d made it up. But that’s beside the point. The point was that she didn’t like it because she hadn’t chosen it for me, nor could she understand why I would like something that she hadn’t chosen for me. There was, and has been, a stark divergence in the value systems that my mother and I follow since that day. I have never looked back with an analytical eye until now.
My developmental encounters with money were in the vein of “never having enough”, or relying on someone else to give it to me. So, now that I make money for myself, I kind of don’t know what to do with it. I mean, I know what to do with it, I just don’t know how to use it efficiently. I haven’t had enough practice LOL. I have, what we call in the black culture, “nigga moments” where I fear that there will be a large gap between the money I have then and money to come. With that fear lingering over me, I get anxious and usually decide to treat myself so that at the very least I will have enjoyed some part of my income, instead of it all going to bills. I was never taught to save because usually there was nothing left to save. It was all used towards survival in the “now.”
They say the first step to recovery is admittance. So I guess I am on my way now…
© Stephen R. Freshley and wordbending, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephen R. Freshley and Word Bending a secret but not so secret blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.