by BrijBrand Contributor, Dr. Chris Hawkins
All of us at one point have wanted to act in movies. When I was young, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker or his sidekick Indiana Jones.
Oh, right actor, wrong movie. In my mind there was nothing like the idea of playing with light sabers or having a whip, a cool hat and looking for historical artifacts.
A few years ago I had an opportunity to be a stage actor in a couple of plays. It was an incredible experience.
In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking maybe I should go audition for another role. It’s an experience I suggest everyone try at some point. Why? There is something about playing the role of someone different.
I have had the opportunity to play Blackbeard the Pirate in a stage comedy and Hagrad in a Harry Potter spoof. I enjoyed looking for treasure or my three headed dog Fluffy.
What I’ve found is that many people, in fact most of us, are actors.
We present ourselves to be something, but behind the scenes we are totally different.
We wear clothes that make us look successful. We drive cars that make us look wealthy. We buy big homes that make us look like the rich people we see on TV.
Every professional actor and actress have personas they play on film, but off camera, they are real people.
It’s the characters they play we most often think of when we hear their name. Likewise, it is the person we play that most people associate us with.
In public, we present ourselves as if we are loaded.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Most American’s have less than a $1,000 in a savings account. In fact, most of us would have trouble coming up with $400 if an emergency occurred.
Most of us have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. In fact, many have saved nothing. We want our children to be able to go to college but we haven’t saved a dime to help them.
What is shown to the world is a character, not the real person.
We show the world what we want them to think about us. In essence, we act. We act so others will see us as successful. We act so we can fit in. We act so we don’t look different. We act so people will accept us. At least that is what we tell ourselves.
We think that people will judge us. We are afraid of being seen as a nobody so we play the part of a character named Somebody.
Somebody is a member of the mythical Jones’ family.
Traditionally the Jones’ were our neighbors but over decades they became our coworkers and today are our friends on social media.
When the Jones get a new car, we need a new car. When they go on a vacation to the Caribbean, we go on a vacation to the Caribbean. When they build a pool, we build a pool. Why? Because we don’t want others to see us as different. Thus we try and keep up with the Jones’. We try and become something we are not. Thus we are acting.
Here’s a little secret. If the Smith family knew how much trouble the Jones had keeping up with the bills, the Smith family wouldn’t try and keep up with the Jones.
Behind the facade is the true person.
We are up to our eyeballs in debt. We’ve borrowed for those new cars. We’ve borrowed for the nice clothes and vacations. We’ve borrowed to furnish the house.
All this debt is piled on top of the student loan debt we accumulated because someone told us it was good debt.
We’ve bought into the myth that student loan debt is the only way to pay for college. And then, playing the role of Somebody, we buy a house that is too big and too expensive.
Without thinking about it, we’ve written the script of our life and in this story, Somebody doesn’t have a happy ending.
This script is the tale of two lives. On the outside is a character who looks successful. They’ve got everything a person could want. They look successful. They look every bit the part of what we think success is. They are acting out the role of Somebody very well.
On the inside though is a person living in fear. They are scared. They have trouble sleeping at night. They have trouble focusing at work. The cars, houses, and clothes show the character but the mailbox, inbox, and checking account show the real person playing the character.
The irony is they have the empty feeling of knowing that in their effort to avoid being seen as nobody, they’ve played the role of Somebody, and while others see them as Somebody, they’ve turned out to be nobody.
Let me wrap up by issuing you a challenge.
Reject the notion you have to look rich and develop a mentality that will allow you to actually become rich.
Start by embracing being different. I’m not suggesting you become overly weird.
Don’t spend money trying to fit in or because you feel you will miss out on something.
Have the courage to live on less than you make and save.
Don’t feel your need to buy things to be cool.
Your friends aren’t going to abandon you if you say no. If they do, they probably weren’t friends worth having.
Only buy things when you can afford them. This means you have enough cash saved to pay for the item. Being able to make payments doesn’t qualify as being able to afford something.
Other things you can do are to eat at home more and hang out with your friends either at your place or theirs. Look for ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money.
When your friends make fun of you, take that as a good thing. It means you are on the right track. You will be playing the role of yourself in the best movie ever. The one that ends with you building wealth.
I believe you should be true to yourself; someone who believes it is important to have fun, but also understands fun is a function of one’s wealth.
By building wealth, the amount of fun one can have will increase over time. You will be able to have fun on a level that none of your peers who continue to act the role of Somebody will never be able to achieve.
I believe it is much more important to actually be somebody than to act the part of Somebody. I hope you do too.
Dr. Chris Hawkins is a financial writer, speaker, podcaster and coach who is passionate about helping people of all ages live a financially prosperous life. After turning his financial life around, he began teaching both students and adults how to send their financial problems on a permanent vacation. He is the face behind the brand Dr. Thrift, which focuses on providing both knowledge and hope for those looking to improve their financial situation.