Self-Worth

photo

 

 

When I moved to L.A. I had about $500, a CapitalOne credit card, and an old (1978 Dodge Aspen station wagon) car I’d paid about $150 for in PA. I started doing background work, earning (after taxes) maybe $35 a day. $50 on a good day. You know, I have it written down in a journal, packed away in storage. I suddenly felt wonderful about myself. I had more money than I’d ever had before. I was having fun, I was working, I was on set. I was on my way up. And after a few months, I could afford to get an apartment with a friend. It was only $750 a month for the two-bedroom in Winnetka. We lived simply, but not stress-free. At one point I was overdrawn in my bank account, and I determined never to let that happen again. And other than one time several years later when the IRS froze my account and sucked it dry (thanks guys. I love how my government really cares about how I’m going to survive with no money in my bank account. Oh, and US banks – really? Charging me a fee? And how do you think I’m going to pay that. You’re my bank. It should be clear to you how much money I have), I’ve kept to that goal. OK, except this week again, when it wasn’t my fault (thanks hacker, I love how you really care how your fellow human beings are going to survive without any money in their bank account. But thank you French banks, for not charging a fee).

The year after, I joined SAG and got a regular stand-in gig on Buffy. Suddenly I was earning twice as much. I saved enough money to take a weeklong trip to Rome, staying in a dirty little hotel and loving the adventure. I was 18 when I arrived in L.A. and 20 when I started on Buffy. I felt like I was doing well for my age. I was on the right track.

After that, I lived on unemployment while trying to get auditions for plays, short films, anything. I received a $9000 inheritance which helped me out that year and also bought me my first Mac (Powerbook) after my 10 year old PC died. I went along, selling things on eBay, painting houses, doing more background work… getting by. Maybe not what I had in mind, but I was happy in my personal life and the man I was with rarely made me feel bad about my petite little income.

Then I got into Adsense, through a wonderful friend of mine. We’d been experimenting at the same time, but he was having more success than I. This came at a good time for me, as my relationship was falling apart and I was able to take time away for myself and at the same time start preparing (not consciously, just able to put money in the bank) to be on my own. And once I was on my own…. well, I was doing great financially and barely had to worry about anything. I loved it. I felt so free. I could take the classes I wanted to take,  eat fresh food, travel, afford rent and even pay more than my fair share of it to help out my brother, who had moved to L.A. and was finding himself and his purpose.

Over the past 3 years, it’s been a slow downward slide financially. I’d hoped that by this point I wouldn’t be relying on Google to pay my bills and that I’d be getting paid to do what I love to do. Well, that just didn’t happen. At the same point I began to really move forward in producing my own things and learning to network, I had to start watching my purse. Unsympathetic men (you know who you are) in my life would whine if I bowed out of having drinks at night because I just couldn’t afford the luxury. I would order the cheapest thing on a menu and no drink but water, and protest if he tried to split the bill after ordering a meaty dish and an alcoholic beverage. I was not in the carefree place in life anymore.

As I watched the savings I’d been proud of dwindle, I began to feel insecure about myself and my worth. And now I wonder…. why do I feel ashamed of myself because I have less money in the bank? I’m the same person. It’s me. My worth isn’t determined by how much I make or how much I’ve got, so why do I feel like it is? I’m staying in a tiny chambre de bonne (a nice way of saying – a tiny room on the top floor with a toilet in the hall) with a mysterious odor I try to cover up with lavender oil, and an alarming lack of storage space for my essentials. I’m not comfortable here and all I can think about is the comfort I used to be able to afford and wish I could afford now. Sure, it’s temporary – I hope – but it makes me feel awful about myself. Instead of moving forward, I’m moving backward.

I enjoy the challenges of life, figuring out how to solve problems and all…. I learn and grow through everything…. but I just can’t seem to shake this feeling of embarrassment. I’m 31 and living like a college student. A huge bag of rice sits on my tiny fridge, and I ponder what I can mix with it today. I don’t want to be thinking about this. I want to be thinking about my projects, my travel, and enjoying life. I want to have my beach hut and my plentiful fruit, my cat chasing birds and lizards, my dog laying in the sun. Then I want to stay in a flat made for humans in Paris in the summer and work my butt off on creative projects while staying well-nourished and groomed (this shower is just messed up, I miss being able to enjoy a shower).

I was always one for deals and discounts. I’ve been a fan and user of Groupon, Living Social, and others for years. So it’s not like I was absolutely frivolous with my money. But I wonder where it went. Where did it go, while I was living life…. and do I regret it? I don’t know. Maybe there were some purchases I didn’t have to make. Oh, like the little rose gold and diamond (so tiny) ring I bought discounted online…. I just took it to Crédit Municipale yesterday to see how much I could get for it…. I was hoping at least 500€. I did a double take when the guy at the counter offered 50€. 50€?!?! Pass.

I suppose it’s a chance right now to find my self-worth apart from my income or savings. But I’m not sure how to do that. Some days I don’t know what I have to offer the world. I don’t know my worth. Yes, I’m told we’re priceless to God, but that doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better. So…. how do you find your self-worth? And how can I find mine?

8 comments

  1. Stuey98

    Try not to allow your sense of ‘self worth’ to be damaged by the problems you’re having with your ‘net worth’. I know that is difficult to do in light of the setback’s you’ve had this last week.
    I’m interested to know what your bank was able to do for you yesterday. I know all about banks, (having worked for one for many years), and how they deal/treat customers. The watchwords they use are always about security, and safeguarding our deposits from fraud. That usually means their funds first, then maybe they will think about the customer’s convenience. How did it go?
    And, in your latest video today, you mentioned a disturbing phone call, I hope it wasn’t more bad news.

    Self-worth is so much more then how much money you have in the bank, or your address, or the model of car you drive. Unfortunately, in this materialistic society we live in, many people judge each other on that basis. What is the first thing people often say when meeting someone for the first time…’Oh hi, Kendal, how are you, and what do you do?” I know, in many parts of Europe, and France in particularly, it’s considered ‘gauche’ to ask people what they do for a living. It isn’t that important to them.
    I agree with you in thinking that your ‘worth’ should not be about money, but about you, your values and outlook on life, what you are passionate about, your accomplishments, and your relationships with others.
    The ‘self-worth’ part is how you see yourself in the above criteria. From what I have seen, (and that is from never having met you in person), I’d say you rank high in all areas; you’ve accomplished a lot in the industry; are certainly passionate about life, a dreamer of ideas, and trying to create new/better projects, and have obviously made many friends.
    The main problem is the nature of the film industry, which from an employment standpoint is at best hit and miss for many budding actors.
    I watched a doc. this week called ‘Camp Hollywood’, about a group of struggling actors, many from Canada, who live at the Highland Gardens Hotel on Franklin St in Hollywood. It was a real eye opener, about people who were just waiting for their next BIG break, often without any real success, but nevertheless, were not about to give up on their dreams.
    Kendal, don’t give up on your dreams either, or on yourself or your goals. Just regroup a little, and zero in on the main ones to get you through this, present crisis.
    If possible get out of the city for a little while, with some friends, and smell the roses….play music, feel better.
    Suggestion – visit Giverny, home of Claude Monet. It should be lovely at this time of year.
    Or, if you’re stuck in the city, Luxembourg Gardens with Meily, and a book. Beautiful !!
    Real test of your self-worth – look into Meily’s eyes, see how she sees you. 🙂

  2. Kendal

    It went well at the bank, I think. A friend joined me to be my translator. lol. But I should have a new card in the mail soon, and a refund of the money within 15 days. I hope they don’t charge me anything for being overdrawn (I think they charge you interest at the end of the money for money you “borrow”).
    Disturbing call… let’s just say it was some rejection.
    And thank you for the pep talk. I feel like we judge each other and ourselves on such odd things…. money, jobs, looks, whatever…. it’s hard to escape.
    Camp Hollywood… maybe I’ll watch it sometime. So much to watch. I still haven’t watched Downton Abbey (is that how it’s spelled?).
    I really do want to spend some more time with music and working on the creative things. I did some music yesterday but today I was interrupted to deal with a broken water heater. I just need to get in a flow, you know? Otherwise I can go weeks without doing what I really want to do.
    I need to plan my summer, too. The sublet is up at the end of July and I don’t feel like doing the apartment search again. I’d rather travel and spend the money that way. So. I’m thinking Ghana. 😛
    Meily… haha. Meily sees me as a source of foooooood. 😀

    • Stuey98

      I’m glad the bank is sorted, and the reimbursement is coming.
      WofW Be very careful of your card. There are eyes watching us when we don’t expect it.
      And, Kendal, you must find time to watch Downton Abbey. The best period drama I have ever seen. The acting is simply superb !
      If you loved the two Audreys (Hepburn and Tautou), you will love Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery).

      • Kendal

        Yeah I’m baffled as to what happened… any suggestions as to what to avoid? I haven’t ordered anything online in months, and as for going out… I don’t know, I should check my account… I don’t think I even used it at restaurants lately.
        I have to get through the new Arrested Development. Then maybe DA (haha, after AD…) will be next. 🙂

        • Chan Bennitt

          OK ! Since you asked, here are my suggestions to prevent ‘identity theft’ recurring.
          Please forgive me if I sound preachy, I don’t mean to be.
          1. If you need cash, go to the bank to use the debit card. Avoid some random ATM in a mini mart.
          2. Purchases at department stores, theatres, restaurants, gas stations, should be made with your credit card. The reason being that villains who steal your credit card can’t wipe your account clean. Your credit card doesn’t have access your bank accounts.
          It is separate from them, and needs you to verify the transactions (either listed on your statement or by viewing them online), before you decide to pay them. If anything looks suspicious, you can alert the credit card company.
          If you have online banking (and I think you said you do), then it’s easy to transfer funds whenever you wish. That way the balance owing on your credit card doesn’t get too high. You don’t have to wait for the statement to come in the mail to do that.
          3. When you are out and about, partying or whatever, keep your ‘cards’ to a minimum and on your person at all times, or better still at home. Many people leave their purse or wallet unattended, with cards (and PINs written down), inside.

          I have been thinking of scenarios to explain how someone got to your card and your PIN. Did the bank show you the transactions that put your account into overdraft ?
          One thought I had was during the filming of ‘The Fall’. It’s easy to leave coat, purse, wallet while you’re busy directing and starring in the film.
          It’s sad, but there are people watching for us to make a mistake. All big cities are the same, and Paris is definitely no exception. I left a camera unattended in Paris, and a jacket in Edinburgh, each for about 10 min, and they were snatched. Will I never learn ? 🙁

          • thedreamer

            Thanks. 🙂 I always go to the bank, I go inside because it’s the only way to transfer money from my US account to my French account. Withdraw, then deposit. And I keep some cash out.
            By credit card what do you mean…? Like the American credit card? They don’t have credit cards here and I don’t want the big international fee for using one. I tend to use cash as much as I can, then my debit card, because it’s the only card I have here that’s guaranteed to work. It’s got “the chip”. I can’t even refuel my Navigo pass for the metro with any US card. Anyway… they don’t have credit cards here. Any credit card would be attached to your bank account.
            I don’t carry many cards, usually just my French one and my American one. Because the credit cards cost a fortune to use, and some don’t even work.
            I do try to keep an eye on my things if I have to put them down. I’m very nervous about that sort of thing. I had to warn a visiting photographer yesterday to not keep his backpack (with my purse in it) so far from us. I like to keep my things within my range of sight if I put them down. I’m sure there were gaps in my watchfulness during filming…. anything is possible. But unless it was someone on our crew…. I don’t know. I mean for the indoor scenes I just wouldn’t expect anyone to do something like that but…. do you think they would? Outdoor scenes I think we would have noticed if someone was hovering over our bags. I mean they weren’t far from us.
            I found the transactions after trying to buy dog food online and the card wouldn’t work. So I went to see what was up with my account (one time they put some sort of limit on it and I couldn’t spend, for no reason at all) and saw that I was way overdrawn. So I alerted the bank.

  3. Stuey98

    I am beginning to understand your situation as a ‘resident’, compared to me, thinking as a traveler/tourist. Therefore, my idea probably wouldn’t work. I was suggesting using your American credit card (VISA or MC).
    I realize now what you are saying that if you did that you could incur inter’l fees & currency conversion costs, which could be expensive.
    So…it sounds like you are doing everything you can to be safe.
    As to the perpetrator, I also thought it could be someone in your crew, but who knows, right ! Unfortunately, he/she got away with it.
    All we can do is be vigilant.

    • thedreamer

      I alerted two websites about the fraud, and although they’re going to look into it, they can’t give me any information. Which is weird because hello, it was on my card. I wonder what they bought….

      Why on earth do I have to verify my replies on here. It’s MY board! lol

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>