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Money Is Payment for ...

As a struggling actress, I knew that in order to feed/clothe myself and keep a roof over my head, I had to take as many day jobs as I had limbs. These day jobs equaled money, and comfort, and a Girls Night Out or two. Even though I was auditioning every spare second I had, and taking almost every acting job that was offered to me, those gigs never (I repeat: NEVER) paid the rent. When I think back on the five years post-college that I focusing on acting, there are only two jobs that I can recollect that actually paid my bills. One was eight months on a cruise ship, where the $500 or so I was getting paid a week seemed like $1,000,000, while the other was three months in Key West (although I did work as a waitress for a whole day—I left because I had to deliver food to the nudist bar in town and they didn’t even tip!). I didn’t have to supplement those jobs with any other jobs. I could live on them and them alone.

For the other gigs—the ones that didn’t pay the rent—I got paid in reviews. Or MetroCards. Or checks that came out to $100/wk (if I was lucky). Or in kind words. Or in the hope of a new connection. Or in fun and friends. I also got paid in blood, sweat, tears and embarrassment more than once (or twice or ten times). Probably the most financially rewarding gigs were the ones I did as an AFTRA extra, but those were unreliable. So, what did I rely on while I was pounding the pavement? Cashiering at Barnes and Noble, dressing up in big-headed costumes for events (I even appeared on Good Morning America as a life-size 1-800-FLOWERS gift box), being a hostess, an office manager, a casting assistant, a data entry person, a movie premiere usher/willcaller/greeter, another hostess, a waitress, a temp secretary, a temporary tattoo artist, an apartment show-er, a Carmen Miranda appearance person, a real estate agent...I think that’s it. If there are others, I must have blocked them out.

When I decided to stop pursuing acting, I took stable jobs I thought I would be good at and would like (I’ve had four thus far), but I would always be proved wrong. The position might be right, but the management might be wrong. In another role, it would be the reverse. 

Which brings me to today. Or last week, rather, talking to my coach about the challenge I’m having trusting that I can make a living (a comfortable, unstressful, heck, I’ll say it—a lucrative living!) as a life coach. I can’t trust that it’s going to come together, even though I can practically see my progress up to this point as well as the opportunities that are in front of me. I hear the same things echoed in the voices of some of my clients, most of them sitting in “comfortable” careers that they can’t imagine they can break away from without starving to death as the artist or spiritual coach or transportation engineer they want to become. 

After more questioning and clarifying, my coach said, “So, it sounds to me that you’ve never really been compensated for doing what you love. Do you see money as a payment for torture?” And while I knew it was a dramatic statement, I quickly, wholeheartedly, honestly, painfully answered, “YES!”

I’ve been out of college for ten years now. In all that time, I got comfortably compensated (no side jobs, no worry about paying bills, etc) for doing what I loved doing for a total of eleven months. That’s 10.9 percent of the entire time I’ve been on my own. It’s my truth now: I only get compensated for - if not torture (and some of it was), then, at a minimum, discontent and indifference. That’s been 89.1 percent of my experience in a grown-up world. 

As a coach, I love the safety net, and never encourage my clients to take a big leap if they’re not ready for the jump. Instead, we figure out ways to take tiny bitty baby steps until, days or weeks or months or years later, they’re standing on their two feet. I’m focusing now on taking itty bitty steps to build up my truth that, YES, not only can I make money doing something I love, but I will make money doing something that I love. Good money. Mortgage-paying money. It’s scary to start chipping away at this wall, but by not bulldozing it down all at once I can start building my trust back up. As uncomfortable as it is, I’m allowing myself to sit with this new truth when it arises, and not counter it with the vampire voice telling me not to become emotionally invested in this outcome. I’m hearing myself say, “I will be a financially successful coach”—both in my mind and out loud—and letting myself feel the emotions that come up with that. If I start the negative tape—both in my head and out loud—I notice it now, and I stop. The times that my mouth works faster than my brain, and I can’t stop myself, I now at least realize what I’m saying so I can stop myself the next time. I’m also allowing myself to visualize how my days will be when I’m a full-time coach, who I will meet and spend time with, how I’ll feel. I’m not kidding myself that it won’t be tough work, but I can actually see what I have to work towards and what the amazing payment—both financially and emotionally—will be like. 

Are you saying, “Money is payment for torture” or “Money is payment for what I have to offer the world”? 

Just think about that: Money is payment for what I have to offer the world. 

What do you have to offer?