Money can elicit so many different emotions depending on the circumstances. If I’m receiving it, I’m “happy”–if I need it but don’t have it, I am “fearful”—if I lose it or owe it, I am “unhappy”. Money and how much I earned always determined my sense of self-worth and emotional well-being. That phrase that, “money can’t buy happiness” does not hold true for me because as far as I’m concerned, it does. It may not be able to buy “inner peace” but you can use money to travel the world in search of it. But, my biggest mistake is getting discouraged when a creative endeavor does not lead to an “expected” windfall or at least point to progress. When I submit photos to the Stock sites, even if I get one or two accepted, my focus is still always on how much money I could possibly earn if they sold. I do feel immensely proud that the photo was at least deemed good enough—and they are extremely fussy regarding what they will accept—but that pride is always tempered by knowing that in actuality, I will probably not make one red cent unless people are looking for that subject and find it amongst the probably thousands of photos in the Stock site’s picture library. My friend always says that I am focusing too much on the monetary aspect, and that I should just enjoy the creativity, with the money being secondary. I think it all really comes down to expectations, even though I think that I don’t have them, I still do. I think it is impossible to not want recognition for your work, and for me it appears to be money. I guess if I were independently wealthy this would not even be an issue. I know my money issues come from my childhood insecurities, but it is time to let this go. I measure my success on the amount of money I generate, so now that I am literally not generating anything (unless you count $32 in book royalties, and $2.74 on my Blog earnings) I feel I am not very unsuccessful. I have come to the realization that I just want to enjoy writing and photographing what I want, even if nobody else in the whole world thinks it is any good. At this stage of my life, I don’t want to answer to anyone, yet I am still enslaved by money. Until I can actually believe that my self-worth lies within myself, and not base it on others’ opinions of my work, I will never be free. That is a very tall order, but I must try.
Labels; humans have a need to put these on people to categorize and make assumptions about them. I know it is so hurtful yet I have been the perpetrator as well as the recipient. It is so prevalent that most people don’t even realize that they are guilty. I think it is so very common in families, and can form your personality; often affecting the choices in your occupation, school, spouse, financial decisions, your level of happiness, and virtually every aspect of your life. We all know that family dynamics dictate that everybody in a family has a specific “role” even though it is not officially assigned. Among siblings, there is usually the “smart one” or “studious one”, the “athlete”, the “lazy one,” the “trouble maker”, the “fat one”, the “pretty one”, “the drinker”, etc. Whatever the role we play in our family, it often sticks with us, so that if as a child, we were not expected to excel in anything, whereby our sibling was the “golden child”, we often live up or down to that label. Never mind that life and people change as they grow, and the label may not fit someone anymore or the “roles” have been reversed. It is no wonder that so many people dread family gatherings because no matter how hard they have worked to shed their “role” in the family, they still feel like time has stood still and the same old childhood insecurities come to the surface. But outside of the family, the mentally ill, disabled, physically ill, older person, or anyone that is not “perfect” (young and able) has a label stamped on them too. I used to see an ad for a hospital that said something like, “We treat John like John, not “cancer.” As soon as we find out that someone is “paranoid schizophrenic”, or “borderline personality” or “autistic”, we immediately make a judgment about them; that they are violent, or out of it, or that they are not even a person anymore. I’ve heard it said that “your illness does not define you”, much like the ad I saw so many years ago. The same holds true for age as well. I know people assume you are a doddering old fool, with no goals, or dreams or anything to contribute to society once you reach a certain age. I know when I fill out forms at the doctor’s office, listing my age, the staff get a mental picture of what I will look like so when they call me they are surprised at how “young” I look. You get an invisible label stamped on you which affects how people treat you and unfortunately too often how you view yourself too. This “label” can apply to race too, thinking that all black men are violent, or all Asians are “smart” or whatever preconceived notions you may have. Labels are a way to perpetuate assumptions, which are usually just prejudices in disguise. In this celebrity worshipping society, focused on youth, perfection, wealth, beauty, and glamour, people who don’t fall into those categories get lumped together with a “label” and are deemed throwaways–less worthy and valuable in this world.