money makes me anxious

No Parental Support Made Me Hungry, But It Also Made Me Anxious AF

The other day I was wasting time on Twitter and I came across a tweet that moved me. Not in an inspirational way, but more in a ‘uggg, yes but also NOOOOOOOO’ kind of way.

A fellow blogger tweeted an article about someone receiving parental support until age 29. Another blogger chimed in to share that there was nothing wrong with parental support, but that he had been ‘hungrier’ without it.

These two bloggers are wonderful people and I have no problem with their points. But it struck a chord in me that we were feeding two problematic narratives: first, that parental support makes you soft, and that independence breeds hunger and hustle.

Hustle is, of course, the ultimate goal. It’s what gets you to the life you want and it’s endlessly glorified. There’s no downside to hustle!

The personal finance world has a big problem when it comes to talking about privilege and accessibility. It’s all ‘bootstraps this’ or ‘latte factor’ that. People talk about their accomplishments, and people are happy to share financial lessons they learned that helped them achieve success.

But rarely do people want to talk about the emotional burdens that come with money, or acknowledge that certain people have financial privileges and access that others don’t. I find that this omission happens a lot, which is a large part of why Bravely exists. We talk about the full spectrum of money here: how to earn it, keep it, and what it does to us as people.

I can tell you a bootstraps narrative that is impressive. I grew up in a single-parent household, and money was tight for the majority of my childhood. In college, I paid for my own books and any fun I wanted to have. I worked all throughout college and held three jobs my senior year. Post college, I get a birthday check every year from my mother to the tune of $100.

I’ve never received financial support as an adult. (I did live rent free at home for my first year out of college.) I waited tables and paid for my own cell phone, car insurance, gas, going out money, and built enough savings to move from New England to Texas.

And that lack of support has in part motivated me to work harder, save more, and build financial security for myself. I paid off my student loan debt in three and a half years, while never making more than $32,000. In 2014 I lived off of $15,000 and still paid off $2,000 in debt.

I was responsible for myself. That knowledge has always made me volunteer for the extra shift, or turn down a night out in the name of building my savings. It’s pushed me to work more, negotiate more, and to start my own business. It has fueled my ambition and my hustle. 

It has also made me anxious as fuck at times. I didn’t deal with anxiety growing up. I’m not naturally an anxious person. Since graduating college, anxiety has become a part of my life, and it’s almost exclusively because of money. That bootstraps narrative is just one side of the coin.

Graduating with no job, $25,302 worth of debt, and into the worst recession ever was a huge financial burden. It’s one that I’ll probably never recover from, given stagnated wages and the rate of earning power for women and Millennials. Millennials are making just 43% of what Generation X made at our age. We’re starting from behind, and there’s just no enough time to catch up.

I’ve cried over money. I’ve gotten anxious over money. My student loan debt literally landed me in therapy for six months. The fact that I couldn’t make my payments made me feel like a failure who would be broke until the day I died. My entire life has revolved around money, sometimes in unhealthy ways. My relationship to money has literally shaped my current life.

I have been anxious about money since 2011. And a little parental support would have definitely changed that.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with accepting parental support after college. It can be a really rough road, and if your parent’s money makes it a little easier then I’m all for it. I think it’s important to be vocal about receiving support, and to understand not everyone has that. Don’t mask the support and make it seem like you’re doing it by yourself. That does everyone, including you, a disservice.

I think it’s crucial to develop financial and professional skills on your own and to work towards not relying on your parents. But if my mother had been able to send me a check every month, or to provide free housing in Austin for me, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. 

Feeling anxious sucks. If you’ve never experienced it it’s hard to really understand the toll it takes on you. Anxiety will wake you out of a dead sleep with a racing heart and your brain yelling ‘EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE.’ It will keep you in your house for three entire days in a row because the world is too much. It will settle into your stomach in a knot and refuse to let food in.

This is not an ode to unconditional parental support. This is a plea to everyone to acknowledge that our emotional relationship to money is a varied, changing thing. It comes with highs and lows, and no two experiences are the same. Let’s open the conversation up and talk about the full spectrum of dealing with money, rather than continuing to push one-sided narratives.

9 thoughts on “No Parental Support Made Me Hungry, But It Also Made Me Anxious AF”

  1. As the first blogger, I should clarify: my tweet was about how Business Insider is using that as fodder for traffic. I have nothing against support or privilege. I did think it was kind of crummy of the interviewee to say that his parents gave him “a little help”, though, The mom-to-be in me went all sorts of ouch when I realized he was looking at his parents footing the bill for two degrees as little! 😉

        1. 100% agreed! I just think that talking about money in more ways than ‘I have it/ I don’t have it’ or ‘i’m good with it/ i’m not good with it’ is SOOOO important.

    1. Oh, i knew exactly what you meant and I hope I haven’t offended you. Your tweet inspired me to go in a totally different direction, which is what I wanted to address here. That interviewee did have a very slanted idea of ‘a little help’, you’re 100% right. You’ve been wonderful about addressing privilege and I appreciate your writing a lot!

  2. Emotions are huge. Especially since not having money can actually make you worse with money — scarcity mindset. I was actually just listening to the Hidden Brain podcast about it — definitely recommend a listen.

    1. I definitely deal with a scarcity mindset still. It’s something I’m working on this year actually. Emotions and money go hand in hand, and I think it’s so important to talk about.

  3. To a reasonable degree, I think parental support is so necessary and important. But I have a weird thing about displaying lots and lots of support as a bootstraps story – it’s not!!

    I had the opposite of parental support as soon as I turned 17, I was supporting them, so I have a really weird relationship with money and accepting it as a gift or help from anyone. It’s take me years to get past it for myself, but I wouldn’t wish that experience on JuggerBaby. The knowledge I drew from it, and the motivation, yes, but I think there are other ways to impart both that don’t risk zir mental health and subject zir to emotional torment.

    1. Support can come in a lot of ways- I have a friend who doesn’t receive any money from parents, but who lives in his parents secondary house for free. It can also be emotional. I really feel you on independence being helpful but also overwhelming. I learned a LOT and I’m grateful for it, but I also carry scars. Sounds like you have a similar experience.

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