This isn’t about economics. This isn’t about politics. This is me letting you know what it feels like when you tell me not to be scared.
Last night, much of the world got a lesson in stock market futures. Now that I’ve had this personal finance thing under my belt for a while, I actually knew what that meant. Well, at least sort of. Maybe. The market was nervous. Investors were nervous. I was nervous.
I still am.
When you tell me not to be scared, I’m reminded of the fact that I am not an expert. I don’t have all the answers. I have weathered several notable downturns since I first started investing. In fact, as far as timing the market goes, I probably couldn’t do worse. I added to my Roth IRA two days ago. True story. You know what to do. I don’t. That’s what I hear you saying.
When you tell me not be scared, I get confused. I know that you’re trying to help me stay the course and keep emotions out of investing. But I can’t help but wonder why the rest of the market doesn’t do the same. It seems that we’re in this current financial mess–and it is a mess–because people got nervous yesterday. It seems to me that entire careers are fashioned out of being nervous. Who tells those people they are wrong?
When you tell me not to be scared, I realize we don’t have much in common. You’re telling me that our perspectives don’t align. And let’s be clear. They don’t, at least not in this moment. I can’t see it your way either right now. But you spoke first. And it sounds like you’re telling me the way I see it isn’t as valid. You’re telling me the way that I’m looking at things is all wrong.
When you tell me not to be scared, I wonder how many voices you are silencing. I wonder how many people feel like they can’t speak up because they’ve already been told not to. I wonder if this doesn’t go deeper than money and if maybe for once, we should try to make sure that everyone feels heard.
When you tell me not to be scared, I hope you’re right. I want to believe you. I want to do what my mind tells me is sensible. But the truth is, I can’t make heads or tales out of the stock market on a good day. And this is not a good day for the stock market.
When you tell me not to be scared, I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that this whirlwind of emotions isn’t right. This, too, shall pass. I went to bed early this morning thinking that these feelings would subside. Things always look better in the morning, I told myself. Then, I woke up. And I’m still scared. I want to be wrong. I need to be wrong. We all need this fear to be wrong.
When you tell me not to be scared, I hope you’re listening. Don’t shut yourself off. Don’t hole yourself up. Cross economic lines. Cross political lines. Think about the fact that so many people are leery at best and downright terrified at worst. What does that mean for them? What does that mean for you?
When you tell me not to be scared, you’re not telling me that we’re in this together.
You’re telling me that I’m going this alone.
That isn’t the message you mean.
At the end of the day, money matters so much. And people matter more. Regardless of how anyone balances their portfolio, of how anyone voted. I’m trying to do as you say. I’m trying to take your advice. I’m trying to understand your perspective. Will you try to understand mine?