My awkward topic: Money
Letter #8: The elephant in my room, the monkey on my back.
When I thought about starting this newsletter, I assumed I’d write solely about the different countries and cultural experiences I’d be having during my year of travel. And while I still intend to write about those things, something else has been happening, simultaneously. I’ve been drawn to write about how I’m feeling (wow, shocker), and it’s been helping me process some of the themes in my life, like a new form of therapy.
This past summer I was seeing Hester Lubin for hypnotherapy to work through some of the things I struggle with about myself. I could spend the entire newsletter talking about my sessions with her, but for now I just want to highlight one thing we focused on. Money. My baggage around money, my hang-ups, my fear of scarcity. And she explained to me at one point that this fear will never fully leave me. My fear surrounding money will be there until the day I leave this world. But that we can create a toolbox of methods to fight that fear so I can live comfortably with it. I laughed because there were two other main themes I brought to her that I fight with throughout life, and yet money was the only one thing that she believed will stick with me. That’s what this post is about.
In mid January I was in Woodside, CA, spending time with Nate, Alie, Marleen, & Rowan. They’re like my second family, people I grew up with, so it’s hard to know exactly what bucket to categorize them under—they’re not blood related family but they’re so much more than friends. We were staying at Alex & Larry’s house, best friends of Marleen, when I received my first Substack notification that I had paid subscribers.
What?! Is that even a thing?!
The subscribers that opted to pay are people that are near and dear to me, and I struggled not to cry (yes, lately I’ve been crying more than usual). I reached out to thank each of them for the extra boost and support. And not to take away from that beautiful feeling, but I have a hard time believing that what I create is worthy of it.
There’s something in me that believes people buy my jewelry and now subscribe to my newsletter because they love me and think it’s sweet I’m trying something out. I’m not throwing myself a pity party, far from it, it’s just a confession of imposter syndrome, something many creators struggle with. And deep down I doubt that what I create is good enough to be anything but free to the willing participants.
It is difficult to accept the generosity sometimes. I know I’m being clunky and indirect in how I explain this, but practice will make perfect, right? I often feel unworthy and struggle to find the words to express my gratitude. I’d prefer to give it all away rather than have to provide a dollar amount for what a piece of jewelry I designed is worth. My awkwardness around money—asking for it, expecting it, god forbid, ever sounding entitled to it—is hard for me to navigate eloquently.
Is your skin crawling from this post?! Mine is.told me: "write about it."
Why does it feel yucky to have people think I would expect money for something I’m happy to put out there for free? He told me something along the lines that graciously accepting payment from someone, without awkwardly trying to refuse or justify the action, is a gift to them. And it makes sense. I’m a generous person, as well, so having someone question my payment would be confusing and frustrating.
So here we are, another one of the many lessons I will be processing and embodying along this journey.
I sold 5 pieces of jewelry while I was in Woodside, CA. I hadn’t expected it at all. And in that same weekend, I had my first 3 paid subscribers to the newsletter. If I needed any signs from the universe that I made the right decision to follow this dream, this was a big one. Or maybe it’s all of you—encouraging me to keep pushing, keep questioning, keep exploring—as you read what I’m writing and commenting, liking, and supporting. It was not a community I anticipated when I started a Substack, but I am THRILLED. I’m in. Let’s go.
With their permission, I wanted to share some images of the incredible sculptures in Alex & Larry’s home. Her late father, a German carpenter residing in the US, had a panache for sculpting. So much so that he flew to Italy to choose his own precious Italian marble, and had it shipped home. I asked about his process for sculpting—did he sketch out an idea first? Did he already know exactly what he wanted to make? Alex explained that no—he asked each unformed lump of material to speak to him, to feel what it wanted to become through his hands. That was such a beautiful and unexpected response, and a good reminder that we cannot and should not control everything—sometimes we just gotta let go and trust.
That weekend I was surrounded by some of the most fascinating adults I’ve met in my life. All of them with successful careers built off their dedication and talent, but also with an endless array of hobbies and interests that they actually take the time to pursue. Endless inspiring conversations about sailing from San Francisco to Hawaii and back, to watercolor classes just because, to building out Guatemalan infrastructure for the Peace Corps, to various methods of creating glass art. Grown adults that explore and experiment in life with the imagination and fearlessness of a child. May we all find hobbies, interests, and identities outside our careers that allow us to write new chapters as we continue to grow.
The option for paid subscriptions is something new I learned about Substack. I planned on always writing for free, sharing my journey as I go, and I intend to continue to write as a fun hobby—I’m just happy to have you all along for the ride! But I’m going to practice the lesson I shared today. If you feel compelled to upgrade your subscription, I am incredibly grateful. And I will continue to be equally as grateful for all my free subscribers! This will help me learn about more ways to give back to my subscribers, so I’d love to hear from you as I continue to build out this platform. What would you like to hear more of? How can I improve the newsletter experience for you?
I hope my sharing of this lesson/fear of mine today helps further bridge the gap for some of these things that we have a hard time openly discussing with each other.wrote in his newsletter earlier this week that "sharing what feels shameful makes it no longer feel so." He's so right, and I couldn't have said it better myself.
Aww Kez I’m so grateful to have you in my life, too. You’ve been teaching me over the years what it means to be a good friend and check in frequently. ❤️ Speaking of which, we need a phone date soon!
Heather you are an amazing human and I am so grateful our paths crossed ! Your transparency and honesty are so admirable. Hmmm.. what's my relationship with money ? Thank you for inspiring me during this season of your life. Love you friend : )