There’s a Friends episode that took me about 15 years to get. In it, Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe struggle to make ends meet while Ross, Chandler, and Monica bask in the affluence of their successes. The richer pals don’t understand the struggle of their poorer ones, and instead of coming to any sort of compromise, the episode simply ends with Monica getting fired, effectively humbling her.
Student loans. Rent. Health insurance. Car payments. Did-I-Actually-Spend-That-Much-At-The-Bar payments. Money anxiety affects all of us, no matter what tax bracket we’re in. Look at Kanye West – the guy’s one of the biggest artists in the world and claimed to have gone into $53 million in personal debt after funding his Yeezy fashion line. Granted, digging his way out from under this enormous debt likely just means going on tour and chartering one private jet per week instead of two, but still. At some point, all of us experience money anxiety. The problem is, few of us ever talk about it.
I grew up lucky. My family always had food to eat and a place to live, and I knew I could call my Mom or Dad for a ride if I wanted to leave a sleepover. That is privilege. And my parents reminded me of that.
I have been terrible at negotiating rates. I haven’t been great at asking for raises. For years I made $10/hour as a pseudo-manager at my retail job, and found out much later that everybody in the same position was making at least three dollars more than me. Even now, when asked how much my rates are as a writer, I’m tempted to lowball myself, convinced I’ll come across as greedy or unappreciative if I toss out an amount that seems too high.
For at least the first five years I spent writing, I compared myself to other people.