“Esther goes to Paris to buy her earrings”.
The words are barely out of my friend’s mouth and I’m protesting, horrified that anyone would think I actually went to Paris just to buy earrings.
I could tell by my friend’s face she felt bad about her misplaced words, but as I told her afterwards, she had absolutely nothing to feel bad about. My reaction was a result of my own false, yet deeply ingrained attitude towards money and wealth.
I’ve been working on my money mindset, but it’s obvious I still have a lot more work to do.
Whilst I do buy my earrings in Paris, I don’t make special trips just to purchase jewellery. The point is; would it matter if I did? What would that say about me or more accurately, about the kind of person I am? I protested the statement, not because it wasn’t true, but because I didn’t want the people whose company I was in to jump to the conclusion that I’m wealthy.
Why? Because I didn’t want them to judge me, to think that I was bad or selfish or somehow different to them. Although I don’t even know what that means, I didn’t know any of those people at all. But since when does being wealthy make us bad or selfish? I know the reason I have this limiting belief is because of my upbringing, being repeatedly told, “Money is the root of all evil” will do that to you.
My reaction made me think hard about all the pieces of my life I keep hidden, for fear of being judged.
Despite a fairly humble upbringing, I’ve always had a richly abundant life. Whilst my family may not have been cash rich, my life growing up as one of seven children was full of love and laughter and we own a stunning farm in southern Tasmania. My nights were full of stars and the Southern Lights and my days were spent with my horses and sailing.
Throughout my life, I’ve always attracted abundance; I’ve been given cars and cheap rent in fancy apartments and within hours of arriving in London I landed myself a job where I regularly flew first class and stayed at some of the world’s leading hotels. Money has always turned up when I’ve needed it the most – and also when I haven’t. I don’t waste it, we own a modest car and home, but I don’t hesitate to spend it on things that will last for years to come, or give me immense pleasure, which includes giving it away. I frequently travel the world, stay in extraordinary places and eat in amazing restaurants. Who I share my life with and the ability to enjoy experiences has always been far more important to me than owning things.
Yet I hide so much of my life away.
David and I went to Lake Como for Easter and I felt embarrassed to share that I was away, again. This year I’ve been to Paris, I went to Australia for a month to visit my family and we recently spent a week in Norway cross-country skiing, it felt like too much to say, “We’re in Italy!”
But that night and the comment about my earrings made me realise that it’s time to own all of my life: Not just the pain, but the pleasure too. You can’t be half-authentic and only share your challenges and failures without sharing whatever brings you joy and your success as well. Being authentic doesn’t mean you only share your darkness, it means you share your light right alongside it.
Since noticing my unwillingness to own all of my life, I’ve noticed this in other women too. When I look around it feels like something we could all get better at: I’m surrounded by so many women doing amazing things and living incredible lives – many in deep service to others – who downplay their achievements or the beautiful ways in which they choose to live.
Sometimes I wonder if we’ve all become so obsessed with being authentic that we’re in danger of only sharing our pain, desperate to be admired for how ‘real’ we are, rather than for embracing a life of abundance and joy and for celebrating our successes – whatever success means to you.
So, I’m taking ownership of everything that life has given to me, and that includes all the painful things that have happened; the heartbreak and deep loneliness that came with the ending of my first marriage, the death of a loved one, my history of disordered eating, the periods of depression and the pain I know is yet to come. But if I’m going to own the pain, then I’m going to stand up and own the pleasure too. I want to be a living, breathing body of gratitude for all of it. I’ve created this life through the choices – both good and bad – and the sacrifices, I’ve made.
Please own your life, every single piece of it. For when you own all of your life, you give others permission to do the same.
Image credit: Bhav Sonigra Photography.
© 2017 Esther Zimmer