My relationship with money has played a very central theme in my life. As a child growing up in a turbulent household, money was my ticket to independence that allowed me to live on my own terms. Laser focused on that goal, I entered my 30s with an education, a home, a car and a great employment salary to keep the engine of my life running. I had the satisfaction of knowing that everything I built and bought in my adult life, I did on my own– that I had invested in myself.
While money had given me the means to do many things, the flip side was that I also became obsessed with making more of it. It never was enough. I tried oh so hard to accumulate and hoard it. I told myself I wanted the door open to be able to have all options available, regardless if I exercised them.
How many times have we witnessed that despite the quantitative, perceived rational nature of math in money, our relationship can often be truly emotional? It’s still the number one cause of divorce. Our present economic engine runs off the hope of the future of investment returns. Stock markets go up and down creating nervousness in the system. And in my case, in the process of independence, I had unintentionally wrapped my own self value directly proportional to how much money I was able to bring in.
In the book Sapiens, Harari writes about the emotional nature of money. Because it has become less and less tangible, where precious metal has been exchanged for common metals which has been exchanged for paper, then plastic and now even more frictionless in the internet ether, there is this underlying primordial insecurity in the system where we know it’s less and less ‘real.” Therefore, we cling to it all the more. All the focus on it being a very practical, quantitative science gives way into the subconscious emotion of knowing that the number in your bank account isn’t backed by anything tangible that you can see or touch.
For me, my co dependency with money came from a place of wanting emotional security. I thought if I had the means to take care of myself, I would always be safe. But that desire led me to not taking risks I knew I wanted and needed to. The open door option of being able to buy whatever I wanted in the future closed the doors on opportunities that I could have created in the present. I was putting my life on hold in many ways investing for a disaster scenario future that was highly unlikely. I came to the realization that no amount of money would ever make me feel safe.
To relate to money in a different way, I had to change the way I viewed it. I really had only experienced money as something that divides, creates silos and leaves you feeling disconnected. I had seen how much we have vs others, to compete in the workplace for a higher bonus, salary or jobs, to have a “winner” in many scenarios, someone is getting access to capital that deprives someone else and how it had torn people apart. Investing was this sterile experience where the goal was only to make more, propagating that message. Relationships built over money required all of us as individuals to figure out each other’s internal agendas; we then banded through strength in numbers to protect our common insecurities. I begrudgingly succumbed to the idea that there’s a top of something for only a few and I’d have to fight others to get there.
How could I reframe investing in a way that was more authentic? Without planning it, this theme kept organically coming up a recurring part of my transition. What if I could use my experiences with investing my money in a different vein, to be able to bring people together? To use it as a means to express my gratitude and support for others? To be able to build community? I felt a calling to personally and professionally to reposition money and investing as a relationship adder that unites not a divider that separates.
When I meet the CrowdfundNC team, I knew this was a calling I wanted to see through. What I fell in love with was this idea that investing and sharing financial resources can be a powerful tool for building community. That we were investing in a person and business right in our back door that further fosters community relationships and supports growing our regional economy. What also excites me about the investment crowdfunding model is that it’s complementary and doesn’t discriminate. It’s transparent. It levels the playing field. You can be whatever type of founder, business and investor that is authentic to you and find an investment forum that resonates with you. You set the terms. No one is pressuring you to be or develop anything that you are not in order to get access to capital. The lack of being put in a category or bucket is incredibly powerful. I could even envision investments being something that brought people together over the dinner table.
For once, I am appreciating money for the dynamic, fluid medium that it is, understanding its ebbs and flows go along with the normal process of the ups and down of life. I am enjoying sharing and investing my financial resources in people and movements that matter to me. I do it for the enjoyment and fostering of that relationship, the financial return is ancillary. Not trying to hold money static has freed me to create more holistic wealth and value what is truly static: time. I am truly understanding what it means to invest: being vested in the power of something bigger than me.
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