Accepting Wealth: What Acquiring Money Feels Like After A Lifetime Of Being A Starving Artist

Ali Kaukas
Ali Kaukas

There’s something I need to break the ice about–for the first time in my life as an artist, I’m not struggling.

I’ve been broke as fuck the last three years since quitting my crutch jobs.

I’ve had sixty bucks to last a week.

I’ve had to make the choice to either fill my propane tank, or buy groceries.

I’ve rented out my bed on Airbnb and slept in my car.

I’ve fought to get paid anything in an online writing world where publications think access to their following will pay the rent.

I realized recently that I was making the choice to struggle.

Say whaaaaat?

Oh yeah, we do that.

Scarcity is often born from the belief of unworthiness.

If we feel unworthy that shows up everywhere in our life–including the money in the bank.

I’ve been working actively at letting go of unworthy and as I do, I am able to not only receive but ask for bigger abundance.

We choose our struggling more than we choose growth.

I realized that yesterday.

I used to believe that good people couldn’t have a lot of money.

I used to believe that artists have to starve.

I once heard a quote that said, “We don’t process joy, we process pain” and I decided that most good art was written from a place of pain, struggle and dilemma.

So that’s where I lived with my pen.

I remember moving to Costa Rica and thinking, what the fuck am I going to write about?

“Oh I woke up today and walked down to check the surf, saw some monkeys on my walk, surfed green waves beside giant sea turtles and drank a coconut in the sunshine after?”

Who the fuck wants to read that?

People much more prefer my poems I wrote at my cabin, where I was broke as hell and swearing at the man.

I was staying at a really nice hotel in Newport last month–a hotel where rooms cost the rent I’ve paid most of my life for one night’s board.

I woke up in this massive bed with pillows that Jesus may have made on Sundays and felt really uncomfortable.

I needed a toothbrush so I sauntered half awake in a crumpled indie Shakti shirt downstairs to the reception.

I was met by men in crisp suits with combed perfect hair and $400 dollar shoes that shined so bright they hurt my eyes–I felt completely out of place.

Almost like a fraud.

This isn’t me, I’ve written poems making fun of the people in these suits.

I’m the girl chopping wood for my wood stove, hustling to get by and pay rent.

I know struggle with money, not success.

The concept of having money as an artist never occurred to me–my story that sabotaged me in many ways was that writers don’t make money.

Well, I’m making money and I guess I have to let that story go.

For the first time in my life I’m not just surviving, I’m thriving.

And part of me is afraid to say it out loud to you, and to myself.

Because once I let go of the choice to struggle with money and abandon unworthiness and scarcity that means I need to grow differently.

It might mean my writing will change.

And I’m afraid if I write joy, rather than struggle, people won’t like it.

I’m afraid of making lots of money, and I’m afraid of success.

I used to think lots of money and success meant my art would go to bollocks.

I used scarcity and struggles with money as an excuse and limitation to not play big.

We build ceilings that limit our success and for a long time my ceiling was scarcity.

If I didn’t have money, I could use that as a reason to not take all the risks I truly desired.

Now I’m sitting on top of that ceiling, drinking sparkling water, not tap.

I am excited to share new art as I enter a different chapter where struggle is not the main ingredient in my art and work.

I hope you guys will join me up here for some sparkling water and some new stories. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Janne Robinson

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