In a special episode of Counting Zeros we interrupt normal weekly services to bring you this question from the very sassy Danielle LaPorte , a champion of “white hot truth”.
I suspect this post is longer than my norm not only because I found Danielle’s question tricky but also because I’m not proud of my answer.
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Given that I’m on my 17th consecutive week of writing about my relationship with money (here on the blog & within the pages of my work-in-progress money memoir), you’d think I’d have known what my answer to this question was.
But I didn’t. It took me a long while and whole bunch of back-burner mulling it over.
The issue was that my first instinct is to blame all my financial fuckwittery on myself so I haven’t been aware that I have any lingering money resentments that I might pin on someone or something else. But it turns out that I do indeed harbour a certain amount of ill-will…
I once had a job that contained a healthy dose of HR and the worst aspect of this was handling salary complaints. Those who had a case worth complaining about so rarely did … instead all the noise came from those who did not. I found it hard to mask my disdain in the face of this sort of entitlement.
It seriously pisses me off in a way I can’t quite explain. The way some people think they deserve more than others, that is — for that’s always been my not-entirely-logical interpretation of such behaviour.
I felt this same surprisingly virulent form of annoyance when I was finalizing an employment contract for someone who had left our company, worked somewhere else for a couple of years and had asked to come back.
In quibbling over the contract with me, he campaigned for benefits that he would have accrued had he not left the company years earlier.
I presented his request to the-powers-that-be as neutrally as possible. This person wants [insert: Unreasonable Ask, not to be stated in case said person reads this blog]. I’ve written it into his contract. Let me know by Friday if you’ve concerns.
Knowing that the-powers-that-be are too busy, I designed my manouevre to get him what he wanted. And it worked. But I got what I wanted too — which was the approval of my boss because I’d managed to finally fill a position that no one else had been able to fill.
In the years subsequent to his re-hire, no matter how many good qualities this person possessed, I never forgot how petty I found his behaviour. I noticed it in other things that he did too. He fought hard for a promotion and when he got it, he then complained bitterly for several months that he needed to hit the higher targets that came with the role? Even though these had been made clear by people who were surprised he wanted these extra responsibilities in the first place. My take? He never wanted the more senior position, he just felt he deserved the better title and pay that went with it.
BUT HONESTLY — WHY DO I CARE?!
Why not stick to my own failings rather than complain about other people’s?
For someone with a vague recollection of so many things, how is it that I have total recall of these surely minor incidents in my life? Why am I being so petty? So unforgiving with respect to people I regard as self-important, grandiose, entitled, child-like, bratty … I could go on.
What’s it got to do with me?
I’m just as prickly when I have to listen to people get angry about other types of status claims —
- that they’re unjustly single
- or why hasn’t their first novel picked up a publisher yet
- or how is it more clients aren’t beating down their door?
I just do not get these resentments.
I understand being upset about these things. I understand wondering why these things may be so.
But angry? Indignant? Blaming the world at large or other people? As if they are owed something?
To help soothe the ego, I might reply along the lines of
- maybe it’s just this soulless city
- the fiction market these days…
- a simple marketing issue
When what I really want to say is I RECKON IT’S YOU, BUDDY!
But, why so angry, Natikins? Is what my own friends might ask me right now.
Again, I don’t know. Doesn’t everyone dislike this sort of behaviour? I guess so … but not everyone gets their knickers in a twist about it.
More secure people don’t react so strongly. They shrug it off. They find it amusing or silly or sad for that person. Or they appreciate this is just one sliver of the character before them who has many other fine qualities. And to give myself credit, I too can be one of these detached, sane people. If the circumstances are right, the stars and the planets aligned.
Perhaps some part of me deep down thinks: I am not good enough. I am not entitled to more pay or for CIGNA to reimburse me my dental costs or for that person I’ve met 10 times to acknowledge my existence. And perhaps this is why I resent Entitled People … because their behaviour makes me feel bad about myself. Not worthless, but worth less.
Maybe somewhere along the way, back in the forests of time, I mis-interpreted someone’s self-promotion to mean “I am special. You are not.”
The irony is that narcissistic people are rarely judging you / us / me. It’s all about THEM. No one else. Their behaviour is an assertion that they matter because for whatever reason they worry that maybe they don’t. Me? You? They weren’t even thinking about us!!
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I read in a magazine recently that all disagreements can be boiled down to one thing: one or both parties feel dis-respected by the other.
This strikes me as a profound observation. As in straight-forwardly simple but somehow all-compassingly correct. I reckon perceived or actual disrespect explains everything from terrible atrocities to the fight with your landlord to the argument with your best friend to road rage.
But back to me and Danielle’s question.
In what way is feeling threatened by Entitled People a money issue for me?
Now that I’ve vented, the answer has revealed itself to me: I’m not comfortable being assertive about my own value. I cannot do what entitled people do without even blinking. It may be that I don’t know how to price my time or my skills. Or it may be that even if I do, I just don’t want to appear to be self-important or grabby.
But before I sign myself off as some sort of humble, non-entitled soul (thank you dear friends, you do not need to confirm how untrue this would be), I’ve always known that it serves me not to appear “entitled”. I’d much rather that people like me. That’s the currency I value more.
But oh what happy coincidences … it has actually served me financially and professionally not to assert myself. Other people have made the case that I be paid more and / or promoted. That’s pretty convenient. I’ve rarely had the squirmy stress of putting myself out there, making the case for myself, risking rejection and worse — disapproval.
This blog confession may be wholly mis-guided. It smacks of The Lady Doth Protest Too Much. Maybe I am too blind to admit my own brat-like tendencies.
I don’t know!
The only things I can conclude for sure are that
- this is one very tough money question (at least for me)
- that people are complicated
- and that money is never ever as simple as adding up numbers.
And for those of you who have read to the end, and are wondering what your own money resentment might be, check out Danielle’s MUCH briefer example of one here.