What if you were granted every conceivable luxury of life, financial freedom and even more, but it came with expectations that made your soul miserable? Would you let the money dictate your life or would you be willing to let it all go for a different type of freedom? This is the battle that Liz endured. She was forced to make a decision she never imagined. Here is her story:
Everything I Had
My childhood was one of fairy tales. I grew up in a mansion with staff attending to my every need. My every desire was granted. This was all thanks to my father’s success.
My father has a business empire that sprawls across the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, China, and Singapore. As I grew up, my father enticed me in taking an interest in helming his empire. I started traveling with him to all these exotic places, marveling first-hand at all his business acquisitions. We stayed in the fanciest hotels and enjoyed the most luxurious transportation. Nothing was off limits. I certainly saw the benefit in joining my father’s business empire!
Before I could join my father in running his business, he insisted that I go to law school and work at a top law firm for a few years. I completely understood and entered law school without hesitation. One semester in, however, I found my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t enjoy what I was learning and I was terrified of the cut throat culture. I ended up crying myself to sleep most nights, dreaming of becoming an author, a musician, or a linguist. Although I dreamed of pursuing a different career, the thing I desired most was making my dad proud. With this as my priority, I buried my dreams and persevered. Not only was I going to join his business empire, I was also sitting on a 9-digit inheritance.
Losing It All
While I was pushing myself forward through law school, I fell in love. This relationship meant the world to me, but I was nervous to share this part of my life with my parents. I was afraid they wouldn’t be accepting of my partner - a beautiful girl with the heartiest laugh and warmest embrace.
Before telling my parents, my partner and I came out to our closest friends. I was nervous introducing my partner to my Christian friends. I even expected resistance, but there was none. Their warm response gave me the courage to talk to my parents.
My parents’ initial resistance to my relationship didn’t surprise me, but I thought they would come around to accepting us. Instead, they tried to manipulate me into ending my relationship. They took away my allowance, my credit cards, and forced me to return the $250,000 that they had previously gifted me for my 21st birthday. Then they wrote me out of their wills, leaving a nominal sum to prevent me from contesting their wills.
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That was hard to endure, but it continued to get uglier. They told me I was no longer fit to helm my dad’s empire. They felt that I was now poor and would have the inclination to steal their riches. They kicked me out of their home and accused me of being a “useless f*cking daughter”. All this just because I started dating someone they didn’t approve of. All the effort I had made in trying to make them proud of me was discounted.
I became a homeless, penniless 22 year old with no future. All the love and support I once had from my parents became non-existent. The loss I felt was more than I could endure. I became depressed with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia, and thoughts of suicide took over. My once-perfect life had vanished.
The next two years of my life were a struggle for survival. For every step I tried taking forward, I felt like I was pushed back a step or two. I graduated from law school with dismal grades. This resulted in only 1 out of the 200 jobs I applied for taking a chance on me. Unfortunately, that employer took complete advantage of my desperation, paying me very little for my hard work.
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The money I made wasn’t enough to cover all my expenses. Luckily, my partner’s father opened his house to me when I became homeless. My parents didn’t like this and insisted that I move back home. I agreed, hoping we could salvage our relationship, but it only made things worse. My relationship with my parents got so toxic that my partner told me that I needed to break up with her. She knew that I had a lot to lose, and she thought that maybe, this relationship wasn’t worth all of that. That broke my heart, but no matter how tough things got, my partner and I always found a way back to each other.
Eventually, I got to the point where I couldn’t keep living this tug-of-war. I could no longer try to salvage my relationship with my parents and find happiness. No longer could I keep trying to succeed in a career that made me miserable. If I was going to pull myself out of my depression, I needed to change my focus.
So I started focusing on what I had left, not what I had lost. I had a loving partner, the freedom to pursue something different, and the ability to change my future. I was finally ready to let go of trying to make my parents proud of me. It took me two years, but I was ready to start pursuing my own life, my own dreams.
My parents had taught me that a life without riches is a sad life. For a very long time, I had believed them. Until the day I became utterly broke - financially and mentally. But in the midst of all that, I realized that I had amazing friends and a partner that loved me as I was. That gave me the strength to fight for myself. So I started fighting for my own happiness. No longer was I going to look to my parents as the only source of acceptance.
I saw for the first time that I could have a wonderful life without a 9-digit inheritance. Better yet, I saw that I could have a wonderful life without much money at all! I only needed enough money to pay for shelter and food. I could find joy in spending time with the people who loved me. I found joy in writing, reading, and making music. I enjoy the sunshine and walking through the park. I started seeing joy in the very simple things in life. And I’ve come to realise that, as cliché as it sounds, some of the best things in life are absolutely free. All the money I had before had blinded me from this truth. But I’m happy to have found a life beyond power, business empires, and millions of dollars.
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These days I’m working as a lowly analyst in a small company. I don’t get paid a lot, and I don’t love what I do, but it allows me to take care of myself and build a comfortable amount of savings. After everything I’ve gone through, I’ve learned the importance of having money set aside for the unexpected. And I’m learning to be proud of myself for accomplishing this much despite all the pain in my life.
While I don’t have the luxurious life that had been planned for me, I have a life of my own. I have a life with unconditional love and a simple joy that money could never buy. I’ve even started to focus on pursuing one of my dream careers on the side, by writing and trying to inspire others on my blog. It’s only a matter of time before I quit my job and start chasing all my dreams. I may have foolishly buried these dreams before, but no longer will they stay buried in my new life.
If there’s one thing I can say for sure, it’s this - My new life is a blessing I never could have imagined before.
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