Money Does Not Imply Manners!

It has been a very long time since I have truly written anything personal on this blog.  I am not sure why.  I think it’s because I have been so busy with school.  Graduate school requires a tremendous amount of research, writing, and reading and this has occupied a lot of my time.  I thought it was time to sit down and do what I used to do.  Self-reflect and listen to myself and share those thoughts and feelings on paper (or screen in this case).  The personal writing on here is as much for my own benefit as it is for others to ponder.  Actually, writing is a very therapeutic process as well as a way to purge oneself of a lot of baggage.  When I write it puts things into perspective and often times things that I have been harboring for months come to the surface.  I hope that some of my ranting and ravings help others who might have the same issues or thoughts.
Tonight I watched an hour long interview with Lady Gaga and Howard Stern.  First off, Howard Stern can be a bit over the top with his interviews.  I know this because I have listened to Howard for probably the last ten years.  At first I thought he was the most arrogant and bigoted pervert that I had ever heard but then he grew on me.  He grew on me because he is honest.  Lady Gaga, on the surface, comes off as being sort of weird and very superficial but I have listened to enough of her interviews and music to know that under that fa├žade there really is a brilliant and genuine person. 
In her interview she talked about how she still lives in her small apartment in Brooklyn and how that all the money really has not gone to her head.  She is happy because she can finally be herself.  I thought a lot about that. 
David and I are invited to go to dinner this Saturday.  The people that we are going with are very wealthy and can be a handful to deal with.  It seems that the rule is that the more money you have the less censored you have to be and it gives you automatic licensure to treat people with disrespect. The discussion of what to wear came up in conversation.  I thought to myself, you know what, fuck it.  I will wear what I want to wear and if someone doesn’t like it, too bad. 
In the past, and I fully admitted this to David, I was a bitch.  I was into the club scene and the gay scene. It was about dressing to kill, putting on appearances, acting like you were somebody better than everyone else, being critical and mean to others outside of your core group of friends (and even they would knife you when you weren’t looking), and in general worrying about what everyone else thought of you.  I thought that I was happy when in reality I didn’t even know who I was.  I was what everyone else wanted me to be.  I was what my family wanted me to be, what my friends wanted me to be, what my boyfriend at the time wanted me to be.  I was never who or what I wanted to be.  This has changed greatly for me in the last few years. 
I am so tired of worrying about fitting in or about what other people might think about me.  Now, at almost 40, its time to be who I want to be.  I explained to David, that I meant no disrespect to his friends but I am done with being fake.  Often, when we go out, I feel like I shrink down to nothing when I am with them.  I cower and act reserved and I hide  myself to fit in and often times I have to put up with rude comments and poor behavior.  In the past, it wouldn’t have been an issue. Now it’s a big issue. I feel like I am selling myself short when I do this.  I AM an intelligent person and I do have a lot to say and offer.  I am more than someone’s social toy of the moment and I refuse to be treated as one. I also have learned that money does not equal intelligence or social grace. I measure a person by who they are and what they have done with life, not by what they have in their bank account.  It is so juvenile and in poor taste to throw ones money in other’s faces.  I almost want to say “big deal, so you have a lot of money.  Have you helped anyone?  Did you cure cancer?  Did you design the rocket that went to the moon? Have you done ONE thing to help anyone other than yourself, not for social gain or manipulation, but just because you wanted to do something good?  No?  Then shut the fuck up about your money!”
 I always joke about some of the “benefit” parties that I have gone too.  The conversation always goes like this…”hi, nice to meet you.  Have you heard about all of my money?  Did I mention that I have money?  Can I tell you about all my money for hours and hours until you want to slit your wrists from sheer boredom? “If the conversation doesn’t revolve around them and money, it shifts to bitching, backstabbing, and clawing at others by whom they feel threatened. God forbid if they are upstaged.  Any attempt to have any sort of intellectual conversation (other than politics that revolve around money) will be quickly thwarted and the focus shifts back to talking about themselves, money, and how they HATE someone else because of their money.  The benefit is never beneficial to anyone other than the people there “donating” their money as some sort of political or social power move to attain status or financial gain. It’s sad and so so transparent.
Normally, when I meet someone I like to ask them about themselves.  What do they do?  What makes them passionate?  What kind of person are they?  In normal exchange, people reciprocate.  It’s normal to get to know one another to see if you click.  In the past, I have gone out with certain people with money and after an hour talking about their money and the aforementioned backstabbing and clawing, I was asked what I do.  I told them that I was a graduate student and explained what I do for my day job.  Normally, my response would have been “oh, tell me more about psychology” or “so, what made you want to do that?” “What do you aspire to do?” etc.  This never happens, the conversation shifts back to them and their money.  I am dismissed because I don’t fit into some sort of high society hierarchy. It is soooo infuriating!
I also had a conversation with my parents tonight which added fuel to the fire.  My Father was asking about school and how it was going and then went into finance mode.  He made a comment that sort of bothered me.  He said “well, I hope this all ends up getting you a job that finally makes some money.”  I know where he was coming from, but it still bothered me.  I finally, after 39 years, am dead sure about what I want to do.  I wanted to do this when I was 21 and let everyone else talk me out of it.  I want to help people and I want to be a clinical psychologist that works with the GLBT community.  There is a great lack of resources for our community and it is very frustrating.  I have always felt that this was my calling and I ignored it for many of the same reasons that I was worried about what to wear, or how to act. 
 This brings me to the Lady Gaga interview. I think that she speaks volumes and is honest.  She said one thing that rang truth to me….she said that you have to be very brave to be who you want to be.  Other people will criticize you, try to make you feel inadequate, and will make things rough for you.  I know exactly what she means.  For most of my life, I have never felt very understood.  My family never understood me because I was always different.  People in high school never understood me and often times my friends never did either.  I had two relationships, both of which were critical of me.  I was told that I didn’t make enough money, or that I didn’t have the right degree, or that I needed to do this and that and the other.  I realized that I am what matters and that I am all that I have in life.  It is up to me to succeed and to be what I want to be.  I learned that if you are not happy with yourself, that you will NEVER be happy with anything else.  Does money matter?  To some extent it does, because it sucks not being able to eat and pay the essentials.  Should it rule your life?  Absolutely not! I may never be a millionaire but when I die I will know that I did something good in life.  I helped other people and to me that means more than a giant bank account.
I also thought a lot about David and I shared this with him as well.  For the two years that I have known him he has NEVER criticized me, told me that I didn’t make enough money, or told me that I needed to change. At first, I took this as not caring and then I realized that this is how it’s supposed to work.  This is what true friendship is really about.  Accepting someone for who they are and letting them be free. I apologized to him because I have been the one saying you do this wrong and you need to change that.  I often times get upset because David is a very caring and generous person and a lot of the aforementioned people take pure advantage of that.  David is smart, even though he will argue that he is stupid, but he never gives himself any credit.  It makes me sad and angry at the same time to see someone that I care about feel like he has to put up with bad behavior and being taken advantage of to feel like he is accepted and that he is somebody.  I went through it…..now I realize how stupid it was at the time to sell myself short.  
Friendship and love are funny things.  It takes sometimes a lifetime to figure them out and some people never do.  It is so very important to enter into a relationship (friendship or otherwise) because you accept the person for who they are because they will most likely never change.  It took me years of banging my head off of a wall to realize that. 

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