For the whole decade of my 20s, I found myself on a hamster wheel blindly chasing after money.
Chasing after the life money seemed to bring: glitter, status, confidence, and happiness.
The worst part was thinking that I was entitled to all of it growing up and that I didn’t know any better.
I experienced the rudest of all awakenings when I was slapped in the face with the reality that I actually had to grind for these things and that life was not served on a silver spoon.
It probably sounds more dramatic than it was, but you know how the mind has a way of blowing things out of proportion.
I went through years of emotional rollercoasters and mental breakdowns, depression, and anger before finally succumbing to my new reality. I was resistant to change. Trying to accept things for what it was, was one of the most difficult things I had to learn for myself.
It took many years of trying to figure out who I was, my subconscious wants, my conscious needs, and trying to recondition myself while barely understanding who I even was. Being stuck in a fixed mindset, I begrudgingly but somehow proactively tried to fight my greed by trying to unlearn overpowering negative thought patterns.
After seeing how unwarranted greed can ruin not only your own life but those around you, I realized through brutal, painstaking self reflections of the person who I did not want to become.
I saw firsthand how untamed greed and selfishness impacted loved ones through examples in my own family. I still struggle internally trying to make sense of my past.
Coming from an immigrant family where my parents painstakingly hustled to open their own small business but often struggled to make ends meet, I could not understand their pain until I was wiser.
I felt the burden, the weight of my responsibilities and the haunting of never-ending personal guilt if I were to leave and abandon my family.
Greed is a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it helps keep you ambitious and motivated then it takes an abrupt U-Turn and you’re dealing with the overwhelming temptations of gluttony and entitlement. Greed is a black hole and it sucks in other negative emotions rather than positive ones. It breeds selfishness.
And if you are not keen, you may fall into a trap and operate on your vices rather than your virtues. Hence making irrational decisions based on feelings rather than thought and logic.
The real game changer was learning to let go and come to peace with myself and my life. Understanding and digging deeper to find out why I had this obsession towards money.
Why, what is it? What is it about money that makes you want it so badly? Is it because you don’t have enough of it?
At the time, our family was going through a hard time. My parents had lost their business that had supported our family our whole lives, we had lost the home we were living in for more than 10 years, and to top it off, it was intertwined with intricate and deep unresolvable marital issues between my parents.
Trying to make things go away, I realized that I had told myself the solution to my problems lied behind having money. Don’t get me wrong, money does solve a lot of problems, especially our livelihood, the bills, food, taxes, and etc. Because once the fundamental needs are met, you have the mental and emotional bandwidth to focus on areas of life beyond scrambling to live.
But at the time, I thought money would solve my issues and bring me happiness. Little did I know that I needed to work on myself through non-monetary and intangible ways. It was an enigma only I could resolve by walking myself through the emotions, not by attaining money. I thought having money was the miraculous golden ticket to the chocolate factory.
Though it was a process, my constant battle to understand myself and shifting my why and belief of money from greed into more selfless reasons has drastically improved my quality of life.
I shifted my focus from chasing money to forming small but incremental daily habits to progress toward accomplishing my goals and dreams. I had to teach myself and tell myself that in due time, when the time is right, the numbers would eventually follow.
And now, I cannot be happier.
Would I have walked the path I did if I had a choice? Probably not. But would I take it back? Not even close.
All in all, it was a brutal but imperative lesson well learned.