Fear, Self Esteem and Wealth
“I was worthless, until I decided to be worth more.” Kim Jeffery
The oddest things happen when we are confronted with unbelievable circumstances. In my case, I had to make Eric’s (my daughter’s father) cancer diagnosis make sense. “Cancer” — at least in my mind — became the equivalent of a bad “flu” or “pneumonia” or any illness that is curable. It was completely outside of his character and hard to not to take personally that he had been so distant during the last part of my pregnancy, so I imagined the day when we would joke and refer to that “crazy cancer time.” After all, he didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, had 4% body fat, and was the picture of perfect health. Sports Illustrated had once referred to him as “the perfect specimen” of an NFL athlete. After everything his body had been through physically, I was convinced that cancer would not could not kill him. His death was not an option.
The night before Eric died, I had the most vivid dream of my life. Two weeks before, I attended the funeral of my college ex-boyfriend’s grandmother. I was close with all of his family, but had been especially close to her. His grandmother had been ill for a while and most of her family expected her death but, for me, it was too much too handle. Eric’s cancer diagnosis had just been published in the papers and Devan was just a few weeks old and, with everything I was dealing with, I was a sloppy mess of hormones and stress.
I clearly remember driving in the funeral procession with tears strewn down my face. I somehow made a wrong turn and found myself trying to find the “FUNERAL” tags on the various cars around me. Thankfully, I found them and quickly fell back into line. In my dream the night before Eric’s death, the same moment happened. Lost, I was crying in my car desperately trying to find the “FUNERAL” tags. Once again, I found them and turned the wheel to join in line just as I had done before. In my dream, however, I was cut off by another funeral procession except in this instance; the tags didn’t read “FUNERAL.” They read “TURNER.”
The next day, Eric Turner died.
In the events that followed, I experienced alternating forms of anger, depression, and shame. I felt unworthy and was overcome with guilt. After I was laid off from my job, my insecurities tripled. My job search resulted in more rejection and maintaining a positive outlook was almost impossible. I resigned myself to applying for any job that paid at least $30,000 and had anything to do with numbers. It was the only thing I thought I was good at. I started substitute teaching to get by until I landed a job and then I went on the interview that would change the course of my career (and my life) forever.
I interviewed at Marcus & Millichap with a man named Jonathan Weiss. Upon first impression, Jonathan was handsome, charismatic, smart, amazingly confident, and obviously wealthy. I felt insecure and unpolished in comparison. After all of the job interviews I went on and was rejected for, I was certain that this one was out of my league. I looked around the “bullpen” and saw that none of the faces in the room looked like mine. They were ambitious, confident, and … male. Surprisingly, I was called to another interview and took a personality test. Jonathan called me in again to review the results.
“I just wanted to know what questions you had for me before you start,” he asked cheerfully.
“Um. How did I do on my test?” I cautiously asked.
“Amazing. Just like I thought you would. I guarantee that in less than 3 years, you’ll be making at least $300,000 per year.”
Bulls–t. But if he’s half-right… “What do I make in the meantime?” I asked.
Ouch. What the hell kind of job is this? “Are there benefits?” I asked.
“Nope. Do you have at least 6-8 months in reserves?” he added.
“Yes.” I lied. If you counted my debt, I barely had two nickels to scratch together but I had some money from unemployment and some money from Eric for Devan.
“The job is yours. Let me show you to your desk.” He showed me to my cubicle and went on with his day.
I sat there and tried to absorb the fact that I had just taken a job that would require 60-80 hours per week with no pay and no benefits. I was scared, excited, proud, and — yes — still insecure. I found somebody who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I kept asking myself why but it didn’t matter. There was no way that this incredible man would waste his time unless he saw something in me. Right? At that very moment, I started to feel a little differently about myself and my worth. $300K might as well have been $300 million to me at that time and all I needed was a tenth of that to change my life. I didn’t know it at the time but I had embarked on an incredible journey that would alter the course of my and my daughter’s life.
All single mothers know fear. And most of us struggle with serious issues of self-esteem for one reason or another. Wealthy people are not smarter, stronger, or in any way better than you. In fact, oftentimes they’re just like you. In order to become wealthy, there are going to come points of great fear and great risk. When you are faced with doing something you have never done before, it’s easier to doubt yourself and your abilities than it is to challenge them. In my case, I needed somebody else to believe in me so that I could start believing in myself. Thankfully, I wasn’t able to talk myself out of it.