Many years ago I watched an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show that really resonated with me. Although I don’t know Oprah personally, I’ve always imagined that she is as down to earth and approachable in person as she was on her show. Despite her success and fame, Oprah has always been very honest about her faults, her difficult childhood and her struggle with her weight. I really admire her for openly discussing those struggles and, “telling it how it is”.
On that particular episode, Oprah talked about watching the, “skinny girls” eat whatever they want and not gain any weight. Oprah said that she envied those girls for years and often thought, “why can’t I be like that?”
In time, she came to realize that people have different metabolisms and she’ll always have to watch what she eats. What stuck with me was the statement she made next. It was something like,
“Some girls can eat whatever they want and stay skinny, but that ain’t you (referring to herself).”
So simple, but so true!
Years later, I still remember that show and that, “ah ha” moment. Not only did I identify with Oprah’s frustration and insecurities with her weight, but I also thought about how her statement applied to other areas of my life, including my finances.
As early as middle school, I remember looking at things my peers had, and wishing I had the same. I’d see the clothes, shoes and jewelry that other girls had and think to myself, “man it would be nice to have things like that.”
Thankfully I grew up in a really rural fishing village on the coast of Maine, so there weren’t a lot of, “fancy” things to envious of. In high school, I, “figured out” that I could buy the things I wanted (GAP jeans, Tommy Girl perfume, nine west shoes etc.) by working odd jobs, babysitting and life-guarding.
When I went away to college, I met a whole new class of wealthy people that I didn’t even know existed. I also, “discovered” a world of new “stuff” to admire and desire.
My freshman year of college, I befriended a young woman who came from a very wealthy family. Her family’s, “summer cottage” in Kennebunkport was next to the Bush’s home (President Bush!) and her year-round home was a mansion (think Real Housewives of NJ). She drove a brand new Volkswagen Passat and dropped fat stacks of cash on clothes, shoes, makeup and handbags.
She was a sweet girl and I appreciate that she never made me feel, “less than” because I didn’t come from a wealthy family. Despite her best attempts to keep me from feeling like her, “poor friend”, there were definitely times when she was buying a $50 lip treatment at the Chanel counter that I was “hiding” at the Clinique counter, and thinking to myself, “must be nice”.
In times like that, I had to remind myself, (courtesy of Ms. Winfrey),
“Some people have that kind of money, but that ain’t you!”
Don’t get me wrong, I had no desire to spend $50 on a glorified lipstick, I’m a Burt’s Bees lipbalm kind of gal. But I did often wonder what it would feel like to be able to spend freely without worrying about money.
As an adult, I’ve come to terms with my finances and I’m incredibly thankful for the things that I do have. While I still can’t help but wonder what it might be like to never have to worry about money, I’m so grateful to be financially secure. Not only do I/we have a cute condo, a chunk of money in my retirement account, a good reliable used car and a fully-funded emergency fund, I also enjoy a host of comforts that many people do not have.
It’s no secret that when I was a kid we didn’t have a lot of money. I’m now fortunate to be able to travel when I want, buy what I want at the grocery store and even buy a few luxury goods here and there. What’s more important is I can give back to my family and my community. I don’t worry about money (OK I do worry a little… I think I always will) and I sleep soundly at night (except for when the cat sleeps on my head) because I don’t have to worry about if there’s money in my account or how I’m going to pay my bills.
I may never have “that kind of money”, but I’m very happy with what I do have.
Have you ever felt envious of “things” that other people have? Has the envy died down as you’ve grown older? How do you get the “green-eyed monster” in check?
Photo: Lwp Kommunikáció