Updated: Dec 13, 2021
I was shamed….at least I think I was.
It’s hard to tell if it’s just a flippant comment or someone praying on my Imposter Syndrome.
There’s body shaming (people using your size against you), or slut shaming (a way of people telling you they are uncomfortable with your overt sexuality). There’s pet-shaming, child-shaming, parent-shaming..sigh….let’s face it…anything you want to silent the critics on and slap a label on it, just add Shaming to the end of it.
Is there such a thing as money-shaming? There must be.
Let’s see…there’s having money - which lends itself to labels such as ‘rich bitch’ or ‘must be stuck up’. Or not having money - ‘struggling’, ‘not good with money’ are phrases thrown around, normally behind backs or whispered in undertones. Then there’s shameless spending- ‘irresponsible’, ‘not careful’. What about not spending money, which makes you ‘cheap’, ‘tight’ or as nice as it gets: ‘careful’?
I’ve been hit both ways. This particular exchange was wanting money or in my case earning money, on my own accord. I believe I fell victim to this phenomenon at an awards night, about a month ago, and it’s not the first time either. I just couldn’t put a name to it.
‘It’s basically anything that makes you feel like dog pooh stuck to the bottom of your shoe. It’s the things that make you hate yourself. It is something that makes you feel unworthy of anything good’ - says Jane Patton writing in Quora
And that’s exactly what it’s meant to do. To keep you in your lane. To pull into check ‘deviant’ behaviour deemed inappropriate by an individual or group.
Which I think is deviating from the actual feeling or sense.
It was one Easter, I was very young but old enough to know better. We were in our living room, long, green, shag carpet and all, on our chocolate egg hunt. While in the frenzy of hunting I didn’t realise that Dad was sneaking the eggs out of the basket and re-hiding them. The hunt went on for-ev-er. 🙄
And then I caught him.
I was enraged!
I was so blinded by the greed of the hunt, that I failed to see the fun and joke in it all. And in my anger, I pushed him. Enough to put him off balance. Enough to see the look in his eyes go dark….. dark with disappointment. Enough for him to not say a word, turn, and walk out the door and not speak to me the whole day.
It is the first time I felt shame, and unfortunately not the last, but hopefully, the only time he was ashamed of me, or at least my behaviour.
I’ve always used this memory as a measuring stick or reminder that I don’t want to feel that way ever again. And although my temper and quick mouth can get me into trouble, even embarrass myself and those close to me, I do not ever want to hurt someone that deep again.
Back to the shaming incident: I attended a function, alone, as Neil was away. I did it as much for the pleasure of seeing people I haven’t seen during the lockdowns as much as I deemed it a networking exercise, as it’s a great chance to have unguarded, real conversations and discuss issues that we, as a company, could possibly help solve. If even just to get to know people better.
And maybe that’s where I’m wrong. Maybe it should have been just a social evening, but I looked around, sitting at the table musing over what just happened, and I saw all sorts of wheeling and dealing going on.
What happened was I went over to congratulate the other person in this exchange. The discussion turned to how to help, how to use our (mine & Neil’s) skills and know-how to this particular group to up their game.
“Great idea,” I said on the particular strategy presented to me. “You know we’re always open to a discussion on this.”
“Yes, always there to make a buck, eh Niki.”
My quick, probably enabling, laughing, but not really, remark was, “yes well I don’t get out of bed for less than five.”
There must have been a flicker of the anger and hurt in my eye, because they added,
“I always know where I stand with you, Niki”
“Well that’s something at least,” I said and walked away after the obligatory ‘see you soon’.
Usually that would slide off my back but it has happened twice in as many weekend functions, so I had to stop and think. I had to bring out my Easter lesson measuring stick.
Am I too ambitious?
Am I too linked to money?
What am I really looking for?
Is it money, success or is it validation and respect?
Should I feel bad about this?
And although I loath to go there…. If I was a man would the statement have been made at all?
I had to look from where I was sitting to from where I had come.
Was I always like this? Was the ghost of Easter past coming back? My family have always labelled me ‘the one bad with money’. Are they right?
The answer is no. My attitude towards money has been moulded, hammered, smelted into shape. My attitude towards work and self-betterment has always been concrete. I was taught by my parents that you work hard for what you want.
And that is what I do.
I was a small town farm girl looking to be the best she could be in a sport and when that ended, faced with the ‘now what?’
I was a full time athlete and part time student living on a $350/month sport grant when my rent was $250 of that.
I took the risk and moved to a foreign country to be with the love of my life and slept on a foam on our office floor.
Glamping at its finest.
I have watched my husband when he walked into a Job Centre to sign on for our family after being made redundant from a life-long career. Where I sat waiting, with our 1 yr old daughter in a car seat, beside a woman surrounded by 12 kids and who pulled out a wad of cash telling her 15 yr old to get her some fags (cigarettes) and ice cream for the little ones.
I have moved my family from this country to that country and back again just to get a foothold and start rebuilding.
So yeah, now I’m always there to make a buck. Call it survival instinct. I will never again feel that helpless in a Job Centre, waiting for others to tells us what’s next.
I will keep pushing to keep us going forward and help whomever I can and whomever rightfully asks for it.
Ironically, I had a conversation with a friend at the same function about Imposter Syndrome and how we really need to charge what we are worth. A former elite athlete themselves, they were struggling about asking for a fair market value of what they had to offer.
Time is currency, not necessarily always hard cash, but worth something all the same. In actual fact, I shouldn’t have to ask to be paid, I should be made an offer, because our skills, delivery and passion to the task at hand has not wavered from our competing days, when ambition and waving a flag proudly was acceptable and expected.
I also see this as the crux of our problem within our sport.
Talk about Imposter Syndrome!
As Judo was dispersed from Japan in a religious and church like model - disciples and all, it hasn’t ever, really cut the apron strings and pleads poverty at the gates of the national funding bodies. This has filtered down to the clubs where we are so desperate for members and the funding they bring, in turn serving a national criteria, we have indoctrinated clubs and coaches to sell their services and our sport below par.
So it’s not really money shaming, as I don’t have the money to try and buy a seat at that particular table. It’s enterprise-shaming, really.
What people fail to realise is the raw determination, grit and oily back of it all to make your own way in the world without depending on someone telling you what you’re worth, and keeping you there with a monthly allowance, feigning it as ‘security’.
It’s not that I don’t understand that responsibilities play a massive part and sometimes we need to take on a job to get by. But just because you’ve chosen that way and that path of stress, do not belittle my way - the acceptance of my own stress but control over my schedule and my outcome, my destiny, an attitude which I admit, now makes me virtually unemployable.
So that Easter, so far back, was it really greed that spurred on the angry reaction?
Or rather was I ambitious, even at that young age, fighting against the injustice of someone taking what I had worked for and purposely keeping me from going forward or winning, keeping me in the lane subscribed for me?
So what I should have replied to the enterprise-shamer, the one who said, ‘anything for a buck, right Niki?’ is
‘you know where to find me when you’re ready to move forward.’