Not Money Motivated.

“If I saw money as the ultimate goal of my teaching career, then I would have to think more about what people wanted to hear and less about what I feel it’s important to say. My energy would be tainted with efforts to get people to come back, to sell them on my lectures, to get them to bring their friends.” – Marianne Williamson

I grew up in a home where money was the most important thing. There was always intense stress related to money: how much money, where it was coming from, where it was going, and how to get more. It was maddening and terrifying. I grew to resent money. As an adult, my partner manages almost all of our finances. I ask him from time to time, “How are we doing?” and he responds “Fine” or “We need to cut back on this to save for that.” In fact, I never check our online bank account. I both trust him and I don’t care.

The,”I don’t care” comes from a period when I was transitioning into college from high school. The family I grew up with imploded and I spent May of my senior year until college started in August living out of my car and couch surfing. I had very little money and very little emotional support. It was this period in my life where I learned, to the core of my being, that having little money was not as awful as having little emotional support.

I was able to survive just fine on the little money I had from working in a coffee shop and the money that I received from my “graduation party.” I barely survived the loss I experienced in terms of family during that time. It is said that we are born through the fire and that experience burned me to ash. But, I was reborn much wiser about money.

I’m not afraid of being broke. I don’t care about money. I do care deeply about my relationships with people. I care about trust, connection, compassion, and love. I know, though experience, that love is what sustains you when you have nothing. Money will get you a sandwich and a Coke but it will not comfort you and make you feel safe.

When I reflect on this time in my life, I don’t hold resentments or anger. Instead, I am thankful that I had the experience because I know that money does not buy happiness. I know this because I experienced the loss of both money and connection. And, I would never let money interfere with connection. The role of money is to improve connection not to replace it.

In a lot of ways, money makes me anxious. When you grow up with people obsessed with money it becomes something it is not. I need money to do the things I want to do but I know that I can live without it. Or, at least very little of it. I did my best to design my life this way. This is not to say that my partner and I are not “successful” (whatever that means?). By his report, we do just fine. And, I’m proud of our professional accomplishments. However, I know that our jobs and financial security could be lost in an instant. This is why security is not found in money. My security is found in cultivating my own happiness and sustaining my relationships with the people I love.

When I’ve had this conversation, some people counter, that we don’t have children to worry about. And, yes this is true. But, as someone that was a child and someone that works with the emotional well-being with children, I can say with certainty, that a new train set or trip to the water park is a great thing for a kid. But, it means nothing when compared with feeling loved, validated, and safe.

If you have little money but a lot of love, your child will believe they are rich. I know this because I’ve heard children say this to me time and time again. And, just like kids, adults care more about love than Gucci bags and SUVs. We just think that we need to have Gucci bags and SUVs for people to love us. We don’t. Simply, we just need to show up for love and let ourselves be loved.

And, maybe take a shower (smelling bad may interfere with love).

“Some people so poor, all that they’ve got is money
Oh, and diamonds
Some people waste their life counting their thousands

I don’t care what they’re offering
How much gold they bring
They can’t afford what we’ve had
Not even the king
They can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king

Oh, castles
Some people so lonely, what good is a castle
Surrounded by people?
But ain’t got a friend that’s not on the payroll

Oh, and I don’t care what they bring
They can have everything
They can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king
They can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Came charging to get what we got
They offered the crown and the offered the throne
I already got what I want

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
They came marching through
They offered the world just to have what we got
But I found the world in you
I found the world in you

So darling, listen
Your arms around me worth more than a kingdom
Yeah, believe that
The trust that we feel the kings never felt that

Yeah, this is the song that we sing
We don’t need anything
They can’t afford this
This is priceless

Can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king
Can’t afford what we’ve got
Not even the king” – Alicia Keys, Not Even The King


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