I was thinking the other day about our Social Self, or what we present to the public as “Our Self”, true or not.
All them ballers with their fancy luxury vehicles, and Hermès Apple iWatches in solid gold, when perhaps in the background, it is a façade, being quietly paid off on credit cards or car loans (leases) to front an image of who they think they should be but aren’t yet.
I think the term is HENRY — High Earner, Not Rich Yet.
Or those Picture Perfect Instagrammers who have thigh gaps and manage to own pristine white couches and rugs even with a brood of crumb crunchers running around the place, could just be faking all of it with proper posing (tip: tilt your pelvis and butt back in photos and don’t slouch), or the behind-the-scenes, unrecorded threats of: “If I catch you on those Instagram-worthy couches with your PB&J sandwich….”
The truth of the matter is…
Whoever you present to the world as yourself, is who the world thinks you are.
Is this really a problem?
Not if you’re okay with the stress of debt and trying to live a picture-perfect life!
Or, if you’re just being you and that’s really who you are.
It’s a double-edged sword to be seen as perfect and rich, because it just puts more pressure on you to be perfect and rich, which means you can’t be real about the stress of life and managing everything.
It just get worse and worse.
So you sweep it all under your carefully curated rug and smile.
Nothing is really effortless, and if you have reached any kind of pinnacle in anything that you do, there is a certain standard and expectation, but the highest one of all apparently comes from within.
For instance, it should be completely fine and absolutely NOT to anyone’s shame to admit to anyone that you don’t have the money for something, but it would be even better to not pretend you have a ton of cash or are immune to money troubles in the first place.
And yet… when I said the other day to a casual acquaintance who asked if I wanted to go to the coffee shop around the corner and get a lunch: Thanks for the offer, but I really shouldn’t be buying anything unnecessary for now. I can’t afford it as I am on a temporary spending ban and need to really conserve my money until I get a contract.
… I got the strangest look from her, followed by an immediate blush and her head went down with a slight “Oh“, which of course, made me immediately wonder if she connected me to this blog, but then realized it was because I was being truthful and honest about the whole situation.
She was embarrassed for me, which was nice of her to be but is it so wrong to admit that you shouldn’t, don’t want to or can’t spend money?
Case in point: No personal money of your own is also a stressor we don’t think of
My friend who I talked about briefly here, likes to front that they’re rich, etc etc. I am sure that they are (but maybe not AS rich as they make themselves out to be).
They have a fully-paid house worth at least $800,000 and have mentioned a couple of vacation homes here and there.
They’ve got money. How much? No clue, but they have it.
…the problem is that she’s not personally rich, she’s rich by marriage to her husband and I think there may have been a pre-nuptial involved, or at least a conscious attempt on her husband or family’s part to not put her name on any family property in the event of a divorce.
In fact, she relies completely on her husband. She uses the two credit cards she gets, and can technically buy whatever she wants… but doesn’t have any actual real cash of her own.
Her husband clears all the credit card statements, but presumably, he also monitors the actual line-by-line spending on them, having squawked a few times at her when he saw the bills racked up online for children clothing stores.
She recently ran into a little credit card debt where she loaned some money in her name to an uncle whom she has been told repeatedly by her husband NOT TO DO, and came to me stressed out about how to clear off this debt that is now in her name without her husband finding out.
Can you believe that?
The stress of basically having all of this money at your disposal but then not being able to clear a $1000 debt by yourself?
She started quietly selling off her kids’ nearly new (unused) items, earning a couple of bucks here and there on Kijiji and finally clearing the card after 6 months.
If she hadn’t mentioned any of this to me, I dare say I wouldn’t have even thought she could be worried about money at all.
Case in point: Having to live a perfect life for the family legacy
We know another couple whose husband (common-law husband) is living off the family fortune; the pater refused marriage because he doesn’t want the guy inheriting anything via divorce.
He has ZERO assets in his name, everything is still held under the parents’ name, and he gets NO MONEY at all.
He is just allowed to live off the fortune (same deal, with the credit cards in his wife’s name), not work, use the property, and he stays at home to take care of the kids. His only job? Is to keep his wife happy.
Is that a great life?
But maybe not.
In appearances, you have an amazing life. Weekends in Europe, a fleet of luxury vehicles to drive, a private jet, and numerous family estates all over the world to use on vacation…. what could you possibly have to complain about, people wonder?
Well.. for one thing, I can imagine that not having any personal agency of your own to use, make and have your own PERSONAL unmonitored cash flow, is one, but this image that they have built up of the family and their fabulous lives, is what people believe as being reality, even if it isn’t.
No one wants to hear how hard your life is if you are skiing in the Alps at your family’s chalet!
You are what the world sees.
No one knows the problems anyone has unless they talk about it, and if we keep avoiding the topic of Money in fear of ruining our perfect image, it just hurts us in the end.