If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you may know my story. For the newbies here I’ll give you the quick take. Like many Black people in this country I grew up in a single parent home with a mother who did her absolute best. Some school years that meant going without new clothes, knowing the ins and outs of layaway, and experience with empty pantry’s. As an adult my life has changed but what has been difficult, getting over my scarcity mentality.
If we’ve learned anything as a society lately, it’s that mental blocks can be just as detrimental as physical road bumps. One thing I am focused on doing is giving people, especially women, information that may be useful to getting them to the places they dream of being.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that once they started making money, they found that they were riddled with feelings of guilt, worry, and more. Personally this year to date I’ve made the most money I ever have and it feels strange. I’m elated to not be in the place I was as a child but at the same time I’m still holding onto the same fears of my youth. The worries about whether there will be enough, or being bombarded with fears about where the next check will come from or how. The more I think about it, the more I recognize the residual trauma from my childhood is clouding my ability to be happy where I worked to be. The scarcity mentality is holding me back and I’m working to get past it. Hopefully through me, you can too.
Maintaining a fear of lack will keep you from experiencing the fullness of doing well…
There are certain things that have embedded themselves into my mainframe that are difficult to forget. For example I am now in the place where most people decide it’s time to become a homeowner. And while that is a perfectly normal thing to desire and even aim for, I find myself wondering is that what I really want or do I just want to check it off my to do list? The wounds from seeing eviction notices on my door as a child are still tender. Which is why although my rent is paid every month, I spent years being afraid my landlords were going to put me out of my home. That fear made me anxious and antsy every time the first of the month rolled around. It also put a lot of pressure on me to jump out and purchase something with the thought that it would “be mine.” Truthfully unless you purchase a home outright, it still belongs to the bank for the next thirty years. Yes, you have the freedom to tear down walls, paint, be creative and do what you will with your space, but the reality is – someone can still put you out.
Even as I write that I realize that comes from a place of cynicism. And worry. If you’ve been there you may recognize that. If you haven’t it may seem outrageous. Learning to overcome that fear of lack ultimately meant making my space feel like a home. I noticed that the trepidation I had surrounding settling into my house stayed with me until very recently. Being asked by Glitter Guide to do a home tour made me see that I had not added any character to my home. Because it my head it doesn’t belong to me. I’ve been hesitant to hang pictures, buy art, or put my stamp on the space at all. Scarcity will trap you, making you feel like a visitor in your home. It’s no way to live. Even if you’re renting currently – make your house a home, you deserve to feel welcomed when you get there. To put your feet up in a place that embraces you. I’m seeing that now.
Among the ways I’ve seen scarcity mentality rear its head in my life has been with money – obviously. Though I’m not living paycheck to paycheck any longer, and I have the means to enjoy the champagne tastes that plagued me for years, I still struggle to truly lavish in them. Some can look at me from the outside and say, “Leslie, it doesn’t seem like you have a problem spending.” But what they don’t see is the time I spend going over and over and over a purchase. Or the anxiety I feel after I’ve made it. Which is hard because I like shopping. Clothes, style and fashion are fun in many ways for me. But making purchases over a certain amount makes me cringe. Largely because I’m not accustomed to it and also because the guilt creeps in.
I think on the days when my mom had to tell us no or on the times I cried wanting something. I feel guilty now that I can do that. Feeling bad if I buy something when I still haven’t retired my mother or bought her a house. In that guilt is where scarcity screams its loudest. Telling you that if you don’t save up or if you make that purchase you may never get the chance to do for the people in your life. It tells you that it’s selfish to spend the money you’ve worked hard to earn. But isn’t that why we work? To live? If we inhibit ourselves from enjoying the fruits of our labor we’re not martyrs, we’re staying in the victim role.
outfit details: jumpsuit: Zara | sandals: Gucci | hair: boho locs | bag: Louis Vuitton
The act of growing out of thinking there isn’t enough to go around can take time. It’s about unlearning the lessons of our childhood and releasing ourselves from the wounds that have been inflicted on us because of our circumstances. I don’t think any of it is easy and I know firsthand it can be a daunting task. My desire for you as you read this is to know that there is another side. On it the the grass is greener because you know you are free to water it and give it attention. Scarcity and fear of lack isn’t just a personal battle. When you’re afraid to grow you’re keeping the world from experiencing your gift and why should it go without?
Photography: Kaye McCoy
What is the fear of lack holding you back from doing? Let’s let it go, today. I have your back.