53 Days Until 35: Introspective for a Kinda, Sorta Milestone
I took count of the days until my birthday on Saturday. If hindsight were 20/20, Barbara Walters would host the weekly investigative news show again and I probably wouldn’t be writing this. My life has been a cautionary tale of what happens with inconsistent focus and discipline mired with occasional episodes of depression. When I was focused and disciplined, I achieved a few things such as completing a post-secondary program or running a whole events team while working at the Georgetown Apple Store and was the only person on said team. Some of the lessons I was supposed to learn in the pitfalls I’ve experienced weren’t timely in arrival. Some of these lessons didn’t come until a few days ago.
It was this mysterious ambiguity, this delay of disaster that defined money for me. Lack of money was an always present but never culminated fear. This is why money never felt real to me. Raised in a house where the main source of income was a drug-addict carpenter, money never existed as a stable, reasonable thing to me but was instead mysterious and vengeful. Money never seemed like an object, something that was a resource that could be tabulated and managed. Instead it was and is an omnipotent force that surrounds me, like gravity or time, that is unexplainable (physics not my strong suit), affecting my life while remaining outside of my grasp and control. — Jordan Foisy (For the record, my father is a proud West Indian man and would’ve never stooped to the level of using hard drugs as a coping mechanism, but if you had a bottle of Bacardi…)
I read a Vice article entitled The Harsh Reality of Being Broke while stressing out about a pressing debt, helping me come to the full realization of 1) Where I subconsciously picked up some of my poor habits 2) Why I continued displaying these habits and 3) What will happen if I don’t fix them. This excerpt made it all clear to me: I internalized money as the site of trauma. One thing I’ve learned in therapy is how we are constantly recreating the circumstances that we are most comfortable in, even if those circumstances are anxiety-provoking. This is me with money: It’s why I’m constantly spending it until I hit the zero zone. I only know and understand money as a continual traumatic act, a focal point for all my terror and sadness. Being broke and uncertain about my future is exhausting and depressing, but it’s where I want to be. I’d rather be cursing about the cruel gods of finances than taking a breath and telling myself, ‘Maybe no pot this week for you, you crustbucket.’ Unlike the author, I wasn’t spending all my money on weed but I have spent countless funds at restaurants, bars, a couple bad investments, quitting jobs [college] with no financial plan or safety net, and then some — This has been happening since I was eighteen. My mother often told me if you don’t set yourself up now, it will be hard for you to do so later — A saying ranking high up on the Your Parents Are Always Right list, right next to friends come and go. The point, however, when this became a real issue was a few months before my 24th birthday in 2006. I was on a clear path to starting an audio engineering career upon finishing a program at the Institute of Audio Research. I worked at the front desk of a high profile audio post-production facility in Manhattan’s Flatiron district and had already been guaranteed a job in the machine room, which was the trajectory taken by every engineer who started there. This was the plan until I was distracted by my participation in a wellness network marketing company named Agel with my team’s leader and network being based in the DC area. I used to frequent gogo music discussion boards years ago as a way to stay abreast of what was happening at home. I saw the banner ad for Agel in my then team leader’s profile. Because I’ve always looked for ways to supplement my income, I hit him up to learn I could get involved for as low as $250. I figured a $250 investment was a small enough start up cost for something that could actually work. On the contrary, I foolishly thought this would make me more money and I’d get audio work in the DC area in the meantime. I left New York City upon completion of audio school and returned to my mother’s house in PG County.
There was no one around to ask me, “Are you dumb?” Please believe if someone had asked this, I would’ve taken this into consideration and stayed in New York. Listen man, when I tell you I was in over my head, this is no tale. No diss to the company, network marketing as a business structure, or my team leader but I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t sign up a soul and only got one customer to buy the product — My father, who canceled his subscription shortly after because he couldn’t afford it despite the health benefits he experienced. The apple too often doesn’t fall far from the tree. A wise man told me while presenting him with the Agel business opportunity sitting in a booth at Ben’s Chili Bowl this work wasn’t what I was meant for me because I was destined for greater things. Where was he six months prior to ask me “Are you dumb?” It took years for me to get over this decision and even when given additional chances to return to New York City and build careers in other industries, I became distracted and ended up returning home each time. My ability to do work has never been the problem, but my inability to stay focused on the ultimate goal and feel a need for some outside financial validation has always been the issue. I wanted to feel some type of comfort. I didn’t want my family or close friends to worry. I had to always do something to make myself at least appear to be okay. I did it at eighteen, twenty-three to twenty-seven, and thirty to July 12, 2017.
Ditching the scarcity mindset for an abundant one is a daily effort because there are still many people in my life who operate in scarcity. Scarcity is what I knew because I grew up in a household which existed in this. I’ve subconsciously taken all of this poor messaging with me through life. As my understanding of money grows, I’ve lately found it difficult to entertain conversations with people who haven’t reached any type of understanding. I’m in no place to provide financial advice to anyone and very much still in the learning stage, however progressive energy begets progressive actions. I need to spend my time with these types of people, not the former. I’ve also taken considerable interest in group economics and wealth building, always approaching potential business endeavors thinking how I can partner with those like myself to share resources. But I won’t be able to participate in any of this without making wise financial decisions from this day forth, along with correcting any red marks in my personal finances. Here’s where patience comes in because this growth is incremental, but even without experiencing it for myself I know the end result will be worth each step taken.
There are adults my age and older who if they knew my current standing in life would judge me. There are probably twenty-somethings who’d also judge me. Most of us judge others everyday and shouldn’t even be judges in pie-eating contests. Regardless, I let these opinions roll off me as I never heard them. My one redeeming quality in this is never blaming others for my lot in life. I have no developmental issues and I’m fully capable of making sensible decisions. Although, holding yourself accountable only matters when your actions show you’ve taken your own advice. Fifty-three days from age 35 possessing none of the symbols and independence indicative of someone my age and it all hit me where I went wrong. All the while, my creative work is being noticed again and based on recent conversations this time around may net financial rewards. Funny how life works, right? Do I regret leaving New York in 2006? Not anymore but had I stayed and been focused on my goals, I wouldn’t have financially struggled over the years and would have by now experienced adulthood the way I always envisioned it — As a self-reliant, independent adult. But like the Buddhists say, be present in the moment. Today I know better and I’m even grateful for my network marketing experience because it forced me to develop a skill I need today working on the public-facing side of media. Prior to 2006, I was an introvert and happy with staying to myself — So I thought. Having 20/20 hindsight, I was a beta with aspirations to work in an alpha industry. Perhaps I would’ve evolved into the same sigma male I am today much sooner had I stayed the course. Once again, as the Buddhists say, be present in the moment. I’m even better than I was two months before my 34th birthday because I was still tricking off the little money I made on restaurants, bars, and who knows what else. Two months before my 35th birthday, I’m now present in the moment to prepare for an abundant future in order to have no more past regrets.