Work and Money
How I Rediscovered My Financial Freedom
Talking about money is something that we’re taught as children to never do. This notion, though appropriate at times, can also lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment concerning financial status. While bragging or otherwise making others feel uncomfortable is something we should always avoid, there is no denying that money is an essential and large part of all of our lives, no matter how much we would like to pretend that is not the case. Being able to air our financial grievances or celebrate our successes is something that should not be as taboo as we may find it. Being able to speak openly about money (with boundaries in place, of course) could take away some of the power and hold that money has on us as a whole.
Like so many others in this world, COVID-19 turned my financial world upside down. Within a matter of weeks I seemed to have lost all of my writing jobs, along with a personal assistant position I worked part-time for extra cash. I had no idea what to do or where to turn, and despite everyone around me telling me to sign up for unemployment or to ask my wealthier family members for assistance, I couldn’t help but feel shame around doing so. I felt like I had received enough handouts in life, enough help.
After graduating college, I was privileged to have received a generous amount of money from my grandparents, which allowed me to procure an apartment in Los Angeles and start my life here. Since I was 18, I had been gifted money rather than presents at every birthday and Christmas. Throughout my early 20s, some family members had even offered to buy me plane tickets and hotel rooms for various trips and reunions. Despite not growing up in a home with parents who were wealthy, I had grown up around other people and family members who had that financial capacity, and I always had a sort of peace knowing that there were people I could turn to if I needed to. I knew I had access to something that many others did not. I knew I had received more help and assistance than many others.
"If we view money simply for what it is and are realistic about our relationship with it, we take back our power that otherwise can be lost to the pressure of that green paper."
After going through my savings within a couple months of the pandemic and facing some delays with unemployment, I knew I needed help. However, I desperately did not want to ask for it. One evening, while cooking in my kitchen with my roommates, all of my aunts and uncles decided to get together over Zoom for a catch-up call. I remember seeing my sweet grandparents and feeling the tears well up in my eyes as they tried to find where to look for the camera. A couple of my aunts were actually quarantining together with their children, and I loved getting to see them all in the same room. It was such a treat to hear all of their voices and see all of their faces during such a tumultuous time, and I did my best to hide my stress so we could truly enjoy our call together. Nonetheless, the obvious question of how I was doing with work came up. I brushed it off as best as I could, honest with where I was at but hiding how deeply in trouble I was. Or at least, I thought I was hiding it.
The following day I received a call from my grandpa, which was a surprise. After the initial niceties, he asked me for my address. When I asked why, he said that he and my grandmother wanted to send me a small check to help me get through this “rough patch.” Without even thinking, the word “no” spilled from my mouth. I was feeling a mixture of embarrassment, guilt, joy, gratitude, and fear. My grandpa is one of my favorite people on this planet, so the idea of disappointing him or being viewed as careless or spoiled absolutely tore me up. However, after he put my mind at ease with kind and gentle words of encouragement and comfort, I realized he was not the one who thought those things of me. Rather, I thought those things of myself.
Feeling shame and fear about money tends to only breed more shame and fear. If you can’t seek solace or help from family and friends in a time of need, then where can you? No matter what your financial background or history is like, our loved ones are meant to be there for us when we need them, in whatever capacity they can. Having gotten back on my feet since the pandemic and finding even more success than what I had previously experienced, I now know that while money is a complicated and sensitive topic, it doesn’t have to be. If we view money simply for what it is and are realistic about our relationship with it, we take back our power that otherwise can be lost to the pressure of that green paper. No matter how much we might like to be independent, sometimes we must quiet our pride and find financial freedom through a helping hand from family and friends. Plus, you never know when you may be given the opportunity to return that favor.