Wealth vs wellbeing.
A few days ago, I had an article published on the website The Financial Diet. In it, I tell the story of how I got into—and out of—being a digital nomad. Like all of my writing, I was honest about the specific circumstances that led me to where I am now. I get that money is never just about money and that our emotional responses to it are far from rational. What’s more, money can be a huge learning curve for many of us.
This is one of the reasons I choose to be so transparent about my financially dysfunctional past, the financial privilege I have as a cis white woman, and how I’m reworking my relationship with money. It’s also the reason I shifted my coaching work to focus on helping creatives access financial wellbeing. Understanding that I could change how I related to money allowed me to show up in my creative practice in a way that was previously unavailable to me.
As money is such a personal and charged topic for most people, I was not surprised when the comment section of my article was flooded with trolls. They wanted to know why I couldn’t afford a new computer when it was obvious that my computer breaking was simply the thing that made me realize I was no longer content in my nomadic lifestyle. Then they got hung up on my chosen niche as a coach. At this point, despite knowing better, I engaged.
There was something that was just underneath the surface of their words that I wanted to get at. So, I intentionally egged them on with the kind of non-reactive language that trolls hate. It was in this way that I discovered what I was searching for. They were unable to grasp financial wellbeing as a concept. To them, I had to be either a financial advisor or a therapist. Anything outside of that didn’t fit within their worldview.
These trolls not only lacked empathy—as trolls often do—they also lacked the ability to see the way that they had swallowed capitalism’s narratives about money. And they couldn’t even begin to comprehend the value of coaching. From their bizarrely charged comments, I learned that someone being in debt and being a money coach can’t coexist. What’s more, in their tiny troll minds, there are a limited number of valid ways to seek out financial support.
The deeper I dug, the harder the edges of their stories around money became. At one point, one of them used all caps in a reply. Of course there was the surface-level judgement and criticism that is to be expected from trolls. But underneath that, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were just really bored/spiteful or if what we were talking about was distressing them. I doubt I’ll ever know and I have a gut feeling that the latter is at least somewhat true.
Capitalism has us believe that success and our value as humans is tied to the money in our bank accounts. It gaslights us with stories about money being both simple to understand and an unexplainable mystery. Worst of all, capitalism teaches us that power—including the power to support others so they can access financial wellbeing—is reserved for a specific few. In these ways and more, it perpetuates systemic oppression and robs us of our agency as whole beings.
Far from discouraging me, engaging with these trolls affirmed that this is the work I am meant to be doing. Helping creatives access financial wellbeing is one small way of cutting through the noise of capitalism’s limited narratives about wealth and what makes us well. It disrupts the power structures that would rather keep us in the dark—like milky-eyed trolls huddled together under a crumbling bridge.
What stories from capitalism do you no longer believe?