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.
I used to be a Workshop/seminar junkie. It started with The Forum (an offshoot to EST, for those of you who remember this), a woman’s 2 day seminar (very similar to The Forum), and multiple follow-up Workshops for the Forum, Real Estate workshops/seminars, all designed to better myself, or teach me how to make oodles of money. EST was very popular in the 80s, where you spent two emotion packed days locked in a large hotel conference room, from early morning to the evening, not even getting to use the bathroom unless maybe on a break, to the point where all your defenses were broken down. The idea was that you would finally shed your protective armor and be open to making a drastic change in your life. It was so extreme that they modified it and The Forum was born. They broke this out into 4 days and you could use the restroom and leave at night, but it was still intense. The follow up seminars were held in Manhattan and each time you finished one, they started pressuring you to sign up for the next one, and on and on, with no end in sight. I attended a few afterwards (which were pricey) but I finally broke out and “escaped” because this was pure brainwashing. I did learn many invaluable things from these seminars but I can see where it became a sort of addiction. The one thing that all these seminars have in common is that they play on a person’s wish for happiness and success (whatever that is). Each time I finished a real estate seminar (that would last 3 days or more) I would come home pumped up, ready to take the world by storm. But after a while, the euphoria would wear off and the reality that only a few people actually are able to achieve the success that was advertised. Ok, regarding the real estate, I did make some money at times, but the aggregation was not worth it. My latest thing is photography, writing and travel. I signed up to receive information about how to become a successful travel writer, blogger, photographer, etc. So now I receive constant emails inviting me to go to exotic places (with stars in my eyes) where it is as easy as pie to get magazines to accept your travel articles and photos. It’s also super easy to become a successful travel blogger, or so they say. Never mind that you are just one among many out there vying for an audience and the likelihood of you standing out from the crowd is not too great. The other thing is that to start out as a travel writer or blogger you have to have the funds to travel, which I do not. So the people who get to attend these seminars are already privileged and even if they never become a success, they can keep attending seminars, pretending that they have what it takes. I know that if I scraped up enough money (4 k on one of them) I’d be gung-ho for a while until I realized things are really misrepresented in every seminar, for things are not as easy as they depict. Yet, I am still enticed when I see an email about a fantastic 3 day seminar, and I start to dream, even though I know it is mostly a wisp of smoke, an apparition–but I still want to try anyway.