The Narcissistic Show

Posted: May 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Social Media (and I will use this in a singular form) has an uncanny ability to make our lives look fancy. It highlights the good and skews the rest. Or, perhaps, it is us. It is us, users of the different modalities of social media, who tend to create an illusion, willfully or otherwise.

I came up with this reflection, once someone on Instagram commented about how “cute” my journey was from the east coast to California. I said thank you to that, but deep inside came this nagging urge to throw some rhetorics. But I held back and, thus, from that came this writing. (Note: This is not the first one I wrote on this topic. This is probably the 3rd attempt.)

My life, especially my journey from the east coast was not an easy one.

There were so many battles fought. And they were not “cute,” particularly, as we speak about how my financial state at the time was.

Here is the story:

I left New Jersey in March. March 18 to be precise. I tendered my resignation on March 1, 2019. It came after about only 2 weeks following an interview with managers at Stanford. As soon as I received the job offer and one quick sick call at my previous work place in Mount Sinai, I tendered my resignation on March 1st. Given the turn-around time between the date I first submitted my application for the job while I was in Amsterdam in January, the interview in February, and leaving in March, I really did not have time to prepare for the move. That, I admit.

However, if you know me, I am big on procrastination. And “winging” a lot of things.

Packing was done 2 days before I left, as I hauled everything into my Subaru. Material things were not what I was concerned about. That was nearly insignificant. What scared me more at the time was my financial state.

For those who follow me and my constant travels on Instagram but do not know me on a personal level, yes, my life does appear “sweet” and happy. It looked “cute” as I hopped from one European country to another or one US state to another in the past 3 years or so.

However, the fact was I left with only $700 in my pocket and 1 or 2 credit cards. I barely put aside any money in the bank. Even the little amount which I have at the time, I didn’t have access to because I could not, for the life of me, remember what the name of the bank was. I now recall it to be Goldman Sachs, where I purposely left whatever I saved because they didn’t have a “physical bank,” thus, the near-zero possibility of me easily taking money out. Then the little stocks that I invested, which, also for the life of me, I don’t want to sell because I didn’t know how to. In short, I really didn’t have any wiggle room to address future expenses.

Yet I left.

I was in a middle of some form of crisis, emotional and mental, at the time, that I just didn’t give a fuck about the rest. Not that I didn’t care because it really consumed me at that point. But I had mentally and emotionally checked out of the east coast at the time and all I wanted to do was leave that I didn’t anticipate what lay ahead.

Again, in short, I was not financially ready for the move. Yet I left.

Thankfully, my rent was paid for before I even began the journey. What I didn’t know, however, as someone who was mortgaging a condo in Jersy, was how the renting system goes. I had thought that once you rent, the money you put down covers you from the time you make the payment until the same date the following month. Wrong. Apparently, it only covers you until the end of the month then you make another payment at the beginning of the new month. That threw me off further. Much as I hated it, I borrowed money from my sister in Minnesota. Then I came up with other “smart ideas” to streamline my monthly expenditures, including the decision to let go of my Crosstrek and trading it in with another car, just so I can skip a month’s payment.

It was hard enough that I was unemployed and uninsured for a week. What made it worse was that my new job paid on a bi-weekly system– something that I was not used to working in New York, where I got paid weekly. It was a stretch of nearly 3 or 4 weeks of not having the income that I am accustomed to. I have not been not employed and not having soluble income was not my thing. Those 3 to 4 weeks were probably the longest 3-4 weeks in my life as I struggled at “adulting,” which I define as “paying for utilities, rent, insurance, food.” There had been times when I was scared I would not have anything to eat in the next days. Thankfully that did not happen, although there have, admittedly, been times when I felt I was in a “sorry” state.

The other day, someone on Facebook called me out on my position favoring charities and “free stuffs.” I deduced he was not in favor of these, citing that there can be ramifications if you do so. I contested by saying that there is nothing wrong with charity and receiving help. I used to be very “prideful.” Okay, I still am. However, given what I went through the past months, I learned to swallow all the pride, as I accepted help from people who knew my situation voluntarily extended help. Believe me, these help came in the form of plates and dishes, oven toasters, cutleries, and the like. But, rather than looking at these as straightforward “charities,” I figured I must have done something good in my life to deserve the gift of material things I needed to start a new life and more importantly, the gift of wonderful friends, who backed me up when I needed the push.

IMG_5142

This was a box from a package I received. I used this box as a table, while I waited for the right time to buy a small dining table.

 

Now I circle back to the question about what brought me to that financial downfall.

The answer is simple: I did not save and became too comfortable with my life. Plain and simple.

At the time, I figured that for as long as I worked, I did not have to worry about money coming in. I became too complacent. I failed at saving “Fuck You Money,” as my good friend, Lizette, describes that fund you set aside for when you decide to move on and out.

Also, as I mentioned, I traveled so much in the past 3 years. More than anything, I think that was where my money went– to all the plane tickets and hotels. Plus the fact that in the past 6 years or so, I have not been able to recover from the series of hounding from the IRS. I was audited for 2 years, was constantly paying additional income tax during filing season, and that biggest brouhaha that happened 7 years ago when I had to pay Uncle Sam $12,000 in tax money for some new rule that changed related to my immigration status.

Yes, I traveled so much. From France, to Italy, to Switzerland, to Denmark, to Finland, to Estonia, to Norway and Sweden, to the UK, back to France, Italy, and Switzerland, then Iceland. Greece. And back to the UK and The Netherlands and Prague. Those trips became my escape. A rather expensive diversion and reprieve that cost me, literally. It was therapy from my realities, as I smiled, or pretended to smile, while I bled on the inside.

I have to admit that I never had to ask myself if I ever regretted those travels. After all, it was and still is something I want to do– to see the world. Because while it lasted, it filled my soul, even if only momentarily. I always thought of myself as a wanderer. And I think that will always be inherent in me.

As I sit in the middle of the night, I am looking back at the past month or so and think that despite the challenges and anxiety, I have come a long way. I learned a lot of lessons and can only take comfort in knowing that I have gone to the “bottomest” pit and there is only one way to go and that is up. One big factor that also helped was the guidance from friends. I look at my friend, David Wiskowski, as my guidance guru. I am often reminded at the thought of him to “Let it go… and to let go of the idea of letting go.” Difficult as it was, I did that; with prayers, I let go of my fears about money and just let the universe take over. Much to my surprise, once I did that, a huge amount of money came in from something that I didn’t realize I saved, which eventually took care of my “adulting demands.” I am in awe of the power of “letting go.” Seriousness aside, I now own a couch and a table. And while many non-material things are missing, I am at a better place and in the process of rebuilding.

But to say that my journey was cute is a pure understatement of what I went through. Of those nights when I would wake up scared. While the financial issues were at a grander scheme of things, the emotional battles were even bigger– one that I would rather keep private at this time. I will talk of them one day, when the occasion deems it appropriate.

Unfortunately, you do not see that on Instagram or Facebook. What you see is a 5-foot, 1-inch and 104-lb nurse who is smiling, running, hiking trails, and “having a good time” in California. A “happy” person, essentially. It is an altered reality of my life, similar to the lives of many of today’s people, who portray their part in the biggest scam of today called social media.

 

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Comments
  1. Jonathan says:

    Kit Kat – you captivated me from opening paragraph through to the last. You write with such honesty and rawness that so many don’t have the courage to wield in public. Your journey of personal and global exploration is divine. Bravo!

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