Happy Holidays from your Favorite Agnostic Jew!

It’s that time of the year again. Wasn’t it just Chanukah / Christmas 2010? I swear I was just writing my “2010 wrap-up” post yesterday. In any case, it’s somehow almost 2012. I’ve made it through another year. So has the world. Huzzah! 

The past year has been one of incredible growth professionally and personally, a few (ok… one) major mistakes, and new doors opening to great opportunities. I really feel like I’m getting older, not just in terms of how long my feet can handle mini stilettos, but also in how I’m relating to the world.

I went to my 10 year reunion in November — I can’t remember if I wrote about that here or not — and saw a bunch of old classmates who hadn’t changed. They were still living in the same town, for better or worse, and I had been away — for 10 years. It was just a little over 10 years ago when I left home and went to the midwest for college, and then packed my bags to move to San Francisco with a barely-paid internship and absolute terror over what the future might hold, and every possible morsel self doubt one could swallow. 

What has changed? Well, I’m continuing to fake it until I make it, and what has changed is that some days I don’t feel like I’m faking it anymore. I’m still the same insecure girl I was when I was 5, 10, 12, and 20, but I believe that I’ve learned enough on the way to have something reasonably meaningful to offer to the world.

I’ve also found my goals in life have shifted. Ten years ago, I wanted to be famous, a Hollywood celebrity with thousands of admiring fans. Today, I wouldn’t mind a life as a relative unknown. Fame no longer seems like the answer to my problems, only an accelerant to their stinging flame. I dreamed of wealth, but it wasn’t until my mid-20s when I came up with a definition of wealth that made sense in the context of what would actually make me happy…

It’s a challenge to be in a relationship with a bleeding-heart liberal who believes desire is the source of all evil and unhappiness, but deep down I believe the same thing. That said, I still have my capitalist desire, which motivates me in my drive to be a (multi?)millionaire by 35. The difference between my concept of being a millionaire now versus ten years ago is vast. Today, if I had a million dollars, I would not feel rich at all, but I would feel stable enough to start investing in actual adulthood — a house, a family, etc. Now, wealth is freedom. Freedom to be able to go for a two-hour walk in the middle of the day because I own my hours, and I can do my work whenever I choose.

If my boyfriend had a million dollars he’d move to a little house by a lake somewhere in the middle of nowhere and spend his life reading and watching the sun rise and set. I’d be bored to tears by that life. If I had a million dollars, I’d be able to live the life I expected I would have — the life I was told I would have from when I was a kid — a continuation of my middle class life.

In the meantime, more than anything, I want to find a way to give back to society. These days I’m so busy it’s tough to find time to volunteer, but I would like to make charity work a huge part of my family activities when I have children and they are old enough to help out. It’s not that I need wealth to do that, but I do need time. And that time comes with wealth. Until then I’ll be working 70+ hours a week, in a quest for that dream of financial quasi-independence.

It’s such an introspective time of year, even for me. I’ll follow up with more thoughts later, and a look ahead to what I hope to accomplish, from a net worth perspective, in 2012. It’s funny, I realized I don’t like writing about personal finance now that I’ve obtained a $100k networth and am making a little less than six figures a year. I’m still embarrassed and ashamed of this. I feel like I don’t deserve it. Yet I want to be a millionaire! I’m a walking contradiction. But I do feel so ashamed of wanting wealth, and wanting to make good money. And I hate, absolutely hate, asking for anything more. But that’s the only way to reach my goals beyond sheer luck.




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