Ah. Money money money. Let’s talk about this shall we?

With my mom being a successful doctor, most of her focus during my childhood coming-of-age conversations centered around: never being dependent on a man, having an education that speaks for itself, and always standing on my own two feet.

Well here I am. 25 years old. And from the looks of things, I’m financially dependent on Brandon and dropped out of college. Is my mom disappointed? Not exactly – but that’s because she knows that I’m standing on my two feet – which often hurt because Christian Louboutin’s aren’t exactly comfortable.

I am not afraid to say that I’m financially dependent on Brandon. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to look at our lifestyle and conclude that he pays for just about everything. But it wasn’t always this way.

I have been around money since I was a kid. As you already know, my parents are both doctors and business owners. They sent my brother and me private school, we had the nicest house on our block, and  growing up and I wanted for nothing -besides a cool car to drive when I turned 16. We had the money. And I begged for something shiny to drive around.

My grandma’s 1993 silver Buick was far from what I had in mind. I used to be so embarrassed by this car. Sometimes I would park on the other end of the parking lot to avoid people seeing me in it. It was the definition of a grandma car. And I really cared what people thought back then so driving around became my daily reminder that just because my parents had money didn’t mean that I had money.

I didn’t realize how valuable this lesson was going to be later in my life. We’ll talk more on this tomorrow.

After I left college, I had 4 solid years of starting my career and I began making my own money for the first time. I saved diligently and was smart about not spending on things I didn’t need. I’ve always been frugal and love finding a deal.

Out of college, I was making $60,000 but felt like it was a billion dollars. I was an independent woman. Making my own money was the most liberating feeling in the world. Brandon didn’t need to buy me a thing and, for the first couple years, he didn’t. We were so happy to spend time together that going shopping seemed like a waste of precious time. We were both so happy with where we were. And, honestly, I would have felt cheap early on if he was buying me gifts or paying my bills. Our relationship wasn’t built on expensive things or extravagant trips. It was built on our friendship.

But over time, things started to change. And this happened very gradually. Like – very gradually.

We’d go shopping and he’d offer to pay for the things I picked out. And then he started picking things out for me. Things I couldn’t afford. And all of the sudden, there was money noise in our relationship. Just like that.

And just to be clear, 90% of my life is paid for by Brandon. The travel. The clothes. The jewelry. The homes. The events. I take claim to none of it. It’s mine in the sense that he’s bought it for me but it’s not actually mine. I didn’t work for it. I didn’t create the wealth to have it. I certainly enjoy it but I’ve found a different level of attachment for the things I buy myself verses the things he’s bought for me.

He’ll kill me for writing this but it’s the truth: the things he’s bought me sometimes feel empty. It’s totally the wrong perspective. Just because I didn’t buy them myself, doesn’t mean they hold no value. It’s just a different value.

Their value is his expression of love.This has been a tough pill for me to swallow and what I’ve learned is: this is my money noise.

From my experience talking with other women in this situation, this is very natural. When one person makes more money than the other, all of the sudden your money noise get highlighted. Especially when you’re not married. And not working.

And as I’ve mentioned, I stopped working a year ago so that we could travel around the world and explore new business opportunities. That was a scary decision to make and still scares me. I moved from being financially independent to financially dependent on Brandon. You might think this is stupid. And you know what – I agree with you. Because what I know to be true is I need to make my own money in order to feel fulfilled. And I am committed to making money in the future. I have a whole plan laid out and it’s critically important to me so I am committed to making that happen.

But until that plan moves from paper to reality, there’s still this in between where I feel torn. In some ways, I feel like I’m letting all women, everywhere down. It’s 2018 and there are more opportunities than ever for women to kick ass in the workplace. To be pioneers. And here I am, a kept woman, traveling around the world on my boyfriend’s dime.

But here’s the thing – I am doing exactly what I want to do. Life has presented the opportunity for Brandon and I to travel the world and I am unencumbered at this moment in time. I don’t have kids. I don’t have 100 emails a day. I don’t have a loved one sick, in the hospital. I’m living a life at 25 that many people work their entire lives to enjoy. Just call me Benjamin Button.

So sure – do I feel completely ridiculous when people ask me “what do you do?” Yes yes and yes. But I’ve been playing around with some responses recently, including: I’m a house-girlfriend, I’m a professional traveler, and (my favorite) I’m a kept woman. I’m usually greeted with blank stares and people don’t exactly know what to say next but, honestly – who the hell cares?

I’ve learned more about my ambitions, my deepest fears, my biggest dreams from not working in the last year than I’ve learned in my previous 24 years of life. This chapter in my story sure is filled with a lot of airplanes, self-doubt, new friends, loss, and money noise. But I wouldn’t change a single sentence. This chapter is what we’ll call character development. And when was the last time you read a life changing novel without some seriously developed characters?

Xoxo Natalie

 

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