Financial Struggles and Faith
As a writer, I’ve been financially struggling my entire adult life.
I chose a profession, writing, that I knew wouldn’t necessarily be lucrative or stable. But I knew from a young age, starting when I was editor-in-chief of my elementary school newspaper, that this is what I was meant to do.
So I followed my path. I majored in journalism in college, but got scared when no writing jobs were getting back to me following graduation. Out of fear, I took a job in television that gave me a stable $36,000 a year paycheck. I only lasted three months. There was no writing involved and I was suffering. I knew I had to follow my dreams instead.
I freelanced for a local newspaper, making $150 a week if I was lucky, and airbnbing out an extra room in my apartment. I’d often walk around with $6 in my bank account, not knowing where the next paycheck was coming from or how I’d afford rent or groceries.
I’d walk around with $6 in my bank account, not knowing how I’d afford rent or groceries.
This led to a lot of panic. I was living in New York City, and I couldn’t even afford to purchase a Metrocard. I’d often cry in the shower or on the subway when I was able to buy the fare. I would notice the more well-to-do people in the car – Wall Street stock brokers in suits, fancy Upper West Side women in expensive dresses – and feel so overwhelmed that I would never be like that. I wouldn’t fit into this city and things would not get better.
My financial anxiety was on my mind constantly. It was hard to function. I was stuck in a vicious cycle. I thought about my bad finances, and then I got too anxious to come up with a plan about how to make money. I’d calm myself down with food, which, even if it was cheap and from the local bodega, ended up being just another expense.
Around this time, I started dabbling in Judaism and questioning my lack of faith in God. I was previously an atheist until I met my boyfriend (now husband) Danny, who took me to a Chabad Friday night dinner that sparked a transformation of my religious views. I eventually converted to Judaism and started to utilize my faith to help me get through those hard times.
I figured out that instead of worrying, I was much better off if I just shut off my anxious thoughts and had faith that things would work out. Everything that was happening to me was for a good reason, even if I couldn’t see it.
I didn’t use my faith in God as an escape from taking responsibility. Attaining some extra peace of mind enabled me to work more productively. If I couldn’t afford to go buy a sandwich, I’d stay at home and write instead. I would come up with great pieces that ended up making me money. If my bank account were low, I’d give a little bit of what I could to charity.
I put effort into doing things that would strengthen my connection to God, like learn with a chavruta (study partner) or read books about Judaism, which would calm me down. Also, both of these activities were conveniently free. And I was getting back so much in return: Nourishment for my nervous soul and mind.
My financial anxiety has gotten better thanks to self-discipline and my faith in God, both continuous works in progress.
My financial anxiety has, over the years, gotten much better thanks to self-discipline and my faith in God, both continuous works in progress. My paychecks are still up and down, and sometimes I don’t know when I’ll be getting in money. But I’ve accepted that God gave me the talent to write for a reason and it would be wrong to do anything else. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be meaningful and sometimes meaning comes out of hardship.
When I am struggling financially, instead of slipping into negative thinking, which is the easiest thing to do, I think about why I might not be in a great situation right now. I come up with how I can prepare myself for the future for this, whether it means adding to my savings account, pitching more publications, or applying to writing jobs.
It’s not easy to be optimistic when it feels like your whole world is crashing down around you. But I know, in my heart, that God would never let that really happen to me. I have faith that I’ll be okay, and that just around the corner, something great is waiting for me.