“That’ll be $12”, the bearded hipster said.
“Twelve dollars for two coffees?" I said. “That can’t be right.”
But it was right. Some cold brew iced coffee actually more expensive than espresso because blah blah I wasn’t listening because I was too annoyed at having to listen to the explanation and what that meant about me as someone who entertaining (and who did) buy it.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have even listened to how much my designer coffee was costing. I'd blindly tap and scroll my phone. But I’ve been working on my relationship, or lack of attachment, to money, lately.
"I’m feeling anxious", I told a friend recently.
"I’ve got lots of expensive things coming up and I can’t save to save myself. Every time I get money, I want to give it away or spend it on something. It’s like I can’t hold onto it", I rambled to her.
She told me she’d be my money sponsor. "You’re going to fill in a spreadsheet every day", she said to me, like an addict who knows the first step is admitting you have a problem. "You’re going to keep all your receipts, and, at the end of the day, tally how much you’ve spent each day."
A few days later, dutifully, smugly, I filled out her spreadsheet.
Day One: $600. Day Two: $150. Day Three: $8.50.
"That can’t be right", I thought. "How the hell did I spend $600 in one day?"
Sucked into an Internet Banking loop of last years bank statements, I discovered my greatest weakness. It wasn’t fancy shoes or designer coffee.
It was UBERS. Twice most days, every day for most weeks.
"Fucking jesus", I whispered to myself.
Last year, keeping tabs on my outgoings wasn’t really my #1 priority.
Happiness Concierge went from a fun little project into a business with customers, which meant money started coming in - but I hadn’t switched mentally from ‘awesome hobby’ to ‘actual business’ in my head, or my bank balance.
Truth is, I was still in shock that people wanted to pay me to do something I exploded with excitement to do every day.
It felt like I should have to suffer for it, like I'd done for years, getting underpaid and overworking myself. As a mentor said to me recently when I said how Happiness Concierge was going - and growing - she said "Rach, money doesn't have to be hard, you know."
But I figured, as long as I was moving forward, that ‘one day’ I’d get my shit together and organise my inability to save for a mortgage.
In Sydney this week I tried exercising restraint to see what would happen if I made more time for living frugally.
I public transported my ass around Sydney and stared lustfully at the Ubers that passed me. And I was sitting on bus en route to a meeting when a girlfriend called.
‘I just saw you’re off to Singapore!, she exclaimed. ‘You’re killing it!’
I munched on my complimentary bread that came with the takeaway salad I had with me. ‘Mmm’, I said.
"I’m actually eating my packed lunch on a bus", I told her. "I’ve been spending four times the amount of cash on Ubers than going to the gym last year so I figured I better get my shit together."
"Duuuuude’, she said. "I used Ubers as my excuse to to run late all of last year."
"God listen to us’, I said. "How middle class is this conversation."
"Mnyeah", she said. "But at least we’re not boring".
That was reassuring. I mean, my passport was about to expire just before an international trip, my Medicare card was three YEARS out of date, and, as my beautician recently schooled me, apparently my bikini line is out of date, too.
("Nobody do triangle anymore", she said back then, frowning. "Oval now. Everybody do oval".)
Well, at least I have an Oval bikini line now. I’m not completely boring, I guess.
I realised I’d spent 2016 thinking I didn’t deserve the money people paid me.
I felt like I was good at what I did, that had the ability to do it, that I was qualified, and so on. But what I didn’t have, until this year, was the inner, sub conscious belief, that inner confidence of: I DESERVE THIS.
I mean, it wasn't luck that created Happiness Concierge, nor did opportunities to speak and travel fall from the sky. It was a series of decisions, I made, based on my belief systems about who I am as a person, my values and what’s important to me, that got me on that plane every other month to a new city. That got me speaking to a crowd completely terrified. That made me write all of my feelings and blast it out to the world.
For the first time since I started Concierge, I started to realise, yes, I had what I wanted, I knew what I was capable of, but I hadn't yet felt like I DESERVED IT.
That's white middle class guilt for you though, I guess.
I had made a choice to be completely oblivious to money for most of my adult life.
I focussed on how to get money to pay the bills, but not how to keep it.
I realised I had become anxious that day, talking to my friend about saving cash, because I was realising something about myself that I was ready to address, or change.
I wonder whether our anxieties tell us something about ourselves that we’re ready to tackle head on, before our brains can catch up and tell us we’re about to have a break through.
I suppose it’s kind of like that moment before you throw up. When your brain hasn't yet told you to bolt over to the toilet bowl.
Maybe those feelings of panic, those moments of night sweats, or those subconscious terrors move into our conscious because our brains have finally reached the maturity and confidence to deal with our ugly, uncomfortable shit.
Maybe the lesson in all this is teaching our conflicted, tired, hard on our self selves that, all the good stuff that comes our way doesn't come for free. Otherwise we would have aced, it - right?
The good stuff as we know, comes because of the small, incremental decisions we make every day, based on our values and beliefs about ourselves. What we want. What we feel we can do. And what we feel we deserve.
What if we looked at anxiety as a positive thing, as our bodies, brain and subconscious all talking to one another. That they're like the awkward teenagers at the disco trying to figure out how to talk to each other. It just comes out as verbal diarrhoea at first.
What if, when presented with an attack of the panics, instead of hiding it inside, we told a friend about it.
What if we felt cool about asking for help and instead, said, "hey, I'm feeling this ball in my chest. Can you help me work through it?"
I do not love spreadsheets.
But what I do love, is the feeling that I have a friend who cares so much she would give me the gift of a very, very boring spreadsheet.
She's not boring, by the way, in case you're wondering. She is very, very, far from boring and SHE has her shit together.