I get to teach personal finance to a little over 2,000 college students each year at a large state university northeast of Hotlanta.
My students come from all walks of life. Some come from households where "money" is always the topic of conversation. In contrast, others have never had any meaningful conversations about money. I have students who associate money with access and opportunity and a contingent that views money as a source of stress and anxiety. As you can imagine, I have to be tactful in teaching my course - much in the same way I write these blog posts with you in mind.
There is, however, one element of my teaching style that I am less cautious about. I am fairly forceful when I encourage my students to 'Own it!'
What is "it"?
"It" is whatever you choose. I am not in the business of helping people find their happiness. Happiness is as unique as a fingerprint. Who am I tell them or you how to be happy? Happiness, joy, and contentment are uniquely personal experiences and should be cherished as such. Their happiness, your joy, should not be influenced by my view of what makes you smile.
It is yours to define - own it!
In fact, if you need a co-signor to secure your joy, then you do not own it. The co-signor does. And as a consequence, you are co-singed to others' opinions, views, and critiques about your "it" - your "Why!".
That's what I call real bondage. Credit card debt has nothing on living life feeling like you are always running a psychological and emotional deficit. In fact, maybe credit card debt is the manifestation of this more deeply seeded ill? But I digress.
Your surest path to true financial peace and contentment is to be unapologetically you. When you believe that you are enough, then your "it" or "its" will be enough as well.
In the past, I have had Black men share with me in secret that they desired nothing more than to read a good book over the weekend than to be out in the streets. I have had other Black men share with me, in confidence, that they love the arts. And that they could spend all day at a museum standing in awe while studying the amazing pieces of work on full display.
I can go on and on about Black men expressing that somehow their "it" is not or has not been appreciated or accepted by Black culture. Black culture, my friend, does not define you. You define it. You are its essence. You are the manifestation of its diverse richness:
If you love to dance, own it!
If you love Romcoms, own it!
If you love Anime, own it!
If you love hiking, own it!
If you love theatre, own it!
If you love volunteering at the animal shelter, own it!
If you love God, own it!
If you love learning about insects, own it!
Embrace being authentically you. Then, and only then, will you find the joy, peace, contentment, and freedom that no amount of money can buy.
Whatever you choose - own it!
Black culture has no bounds. You are enough.