I’ve been reading your column and it’s honestly become a lifeline for me. I grew up being taught that income wasn’t something you could control or seek to increase, you just got what you were handed. Being a graduate, (Psychology), in this economy and walking into a dead-end job just compounded the problem, but reading your column has made me realise it’s not wrong but actually smart to think about where my money is coming from, and to cultivate multiple incomes. (I know it sounds obvious, but before that the only advice I’d ever heard on making money involved a lot of visualising and very little doing.)
My question is how do you begin building that life when everyone around you has a completely different set of beliefs? I love to write, so another long-held belief is that choosing that path means choosing poverty. My family and friends are sweet, but if I mention multiple income streams or freelancing they tell me I need to learn to compromise. I find this really patronising since I’ve supported myself for the last 8 years and I kept the dead-end, low income job for four of them in the name of paying my rent. I’m also having health issues at the moment that mean my youthful mojo isn’t where I’d like it to be, (I’m exhausted most of the time and get debilitating headaches from concentrating on even simple tasks.)
In the last month two of my older family members have passed away and a third has gone into assisted living care. I’m more aware than ever of the need to provide for my future self when she’s inevitably hit by a train and everyone she knows gets cancer, but I feel stumped since I’m my only support and my only experience is in maintaining a job I hate. Most of my friends’ money management consists of lowering costs on food and leisure and clothes and all the things that make life awesome rather than income increase. They think I’m being childish when I say I want the awesome.
How do you survive and even flourish when you’re a team of one with limited energy? How do you forge your way when no one around you can relate or guide you?
This question kind of killed me. In a good way — I’m glad you sent it. But goddamn, yes, I understand. I understand all of that.
In Bullish: Social Class in the Office, I mentioned a book called Limbo, about blue-collar kids struggling to adapt to the Ivy League and the white-collar working world. I recommend this book. You should check it out. I recognized in the book a lot of the attitudes I didn’t realize were causing me to shrink back, like a factory worker afraid of the boss-man.
You can be raised by very nice people — even very nice, very responsible people — and still be raised with totally self-defeating values about money, work, education, navigating institutions, and planning your life.