For a long time, I had a thought buried deep in my conscious and subconscious minds. “I am poor. I will always be poor.” This thought was something I grew up with. It was something my parents reinforced subconsciously. We didn’t have enough money to pay the bills or to buy what we needed, much less what we wanted. “We don’t have enough money” was a frequent theme in our house and I took that theme and made it my own.
I remember one year when I was thirteen or so, we were at a particularly low spot financially. Mom handed my brother and me a copy of the Fingerhut book about a month before Christmas and said we could have any one item from that book. That item would be our only Christmas gift that year.
I, being aware that we didn’t have money, chose a practical gift for myself. I chose a winter coat. My brother chose a Nintendo, a completely impractical item. I always thought my brother’s choice was a bit ridiculous. We didn’t have money, why would he choose a game? Why didn’t he choose a practical gift, something useful?
I look back now and have a different perspective on that choice. I wonder why didn’t I choose a gift that would make me happy, too? Something I truly wanted, not something I needed. When did I decide that because I was poor, I couldn’t be happy?
I carried that I’m-poor theme through to my adulthood. I never seemed to be able to make enough to live comfortably. It didn’t have anything to do with wasting money. My mother used to tell me I could squeeze a penny until it screamed. It had to do with my mindset, with my thought process. I looked at other people and saw how they had opportunities that I would never have and the only difference I saw was they had money and I didn’t. Because I believed in my soul I was poor, I let that label limit my potential.
While in college, I took a self defense class for PE credits. I really enjoyed the class and signed up for the next class, not because I needed more credits, but because I just liked the class. The instructors saw some potential in me, potential I didn’t see in myself. I’m a big girl and they had aspirations of putting me in competitions where my size would be an advantage.
They told me they would train me and I asked how much it would cost. “We’ll work that out,” they said. I immediately went back to how much it would cost me. In the end, focusing on the money cost me the opportunity. They let it drop and so did I, because after all, I was poor, I couldn’t afford to take martial arts classes. The idea was as ridiculous as that old Nintendo.
I used to know I was poor, but now . . . well now, I’m not so sure. I have realized that what I know is simply the denial of other realities, other possibilities. I wonder how many other opportunities I missed because I focused on something that didn’t really matter? How many times have I let an opportunity pass because of some restriction in my head?
As of this moment, I vow to be open to those other possibilities. I will see them when they come to me and I will use them as the stepping stones in my life.
The only thing I know now, is that anything is possible if I am open to those possibilities.