The Power of Money: Taking the Gold Chains off One at a Time

We live in a culture where what we earn is highly valued and what do for work is highly judged. I’ve always been independent, industrious, and innovative. I started a non-profit organization, I started a for-profit business. I bought my first house when I was twenty-six and I leveraged the profits from the sale of that house to buy a bigger house and then another and then another.

Though I’ve never been a high-wage earner, by taking financial risks I have created economic security for myself. Even with these investments and the financial security they offer me, I don’t feel proud and accomplished, I feel like I should be able to earn more, do better.

I don’t need more. I have enough. If I could live my dream it would be to write all day long — to teach writing, to share writing, to experiment with different kinds of writing. But instead, I waste precious time figuring out how I can make money, prove my worth.

When I was forty I started dating my current partner Nancy. I was a business owner, relatively successful. As the owner of a yoga studio, I was never going to enter the financial realm of Jeff Bezos, but I felt okay, balanced. Nancy was (and is) an attorney and like all private attorneys in this country, charges a ridiculous hourly rate. Even as the owner of a successful business I couldn’t hold a candle to Nancy’s earning capacity. In those early days of dating, I felt insecure, like I was a failure of some kind because I couldn’t reciprocate the fancy dinners and weekend trips she treated us to.

Early on in our relationship when I was suffering a bout of loser-syndrome because of my comparatively low wage as a yoga teacher, Nancy said, “Your work is no less valuable than mine. I just happen to be in a profession that has an inflated value in our society.” She meant what she said. I believed her, but still the message that “money equals success” was like a neon tattoo on my brain.

It’s twelve years later and I still feel the pangs of insecurity because of the financial disparity in our relationship. Unless I get TicTok famous, my annual salary will never come close to Nancy’s. My feelings of insecurity are not her fault. The feelings come from the constant and pervasive message that is promoted in this country. It’s why half of the population drooled over Donald Trump and practically took our democracy down.