What It Feels Like to Lose a Lot of Money Quickly

The first time I lost a lot of money back in 2007 isn’t a story that has any real substance to it, as I never really understood the nature of failure.  It was something that I could recover from quickly, and I did.  The second time was a little worse back in 2008 when the economy collapsed. Then there were few times I had short term situations where I didn’t have money, which were pretty bad, but nothing compares to 2010.

In 2010, I was living in a 2,600 square foot loft.  I had a Lexus GS 350, fully equipped with everything I could ever desire.  My navigation was so cool, as it left little bread crumbs over the destinations I went through.  I had absolutely no clue how to turn off this feature, but it was amazing!  (Yes, I used to work at Toyota, but that doesn’t mean I really knew how to use the navigation system…) It was like I was laying a trail for Pacman to eat up!  I miss playing Pacman…

I was going out every night drinking two bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label for a whole month.  I was managing an artist who I wanted to help excel in the music industry.  Everything was perfect.  I had more money, investors, connections, and I was able to do whatever I pleased whenever I want.

A side of the story I never decided to really share with anyone is that at the same time, I didn’t save a single penny I earned.  I was banking on investor money, so I was pretty sure I was set and secure.  Why save?  I had an endless piggybank I could pull from.  I could eat at Boa Steakhouse, I could afford to go out on dates with anyone I chose, I could party hard with all the models I knew… I could call out a limo and then have a photo shoot in the hills with some of the very best photographers in Los Angeles…  Life was great!

I didn’t lose my money in a traditional sense much like many others.  My reasoning was just out of pure stupidity.

I had this “friend” who saw that I was on top of the world.  One of the three people I had actually taught sales to.  He was someone who I took from working at a pool hall earning $10 an hour and helped show how to make a six figure income selling vehicles.  I knew him since 2006.  We used to always hang out a lot, but the more I got to know him, the more I was able to see his true colors.

At first, when I taught him how to successfully sell, he was very grateful and thanked me for helping him achieve success.  However, he let the power of persuasion get to his head.  Instead of utilizing his newly acquired talent to help better the lives of others, he used it for his own selfish needs.  I mean, I can’t really judge him for what he did, because I kind of did the same thing…

Sure, I crossed some borders here and there, but I also felt immense remorse for what I had done, so I made a commitment to never cross those lines again. I feared myself and decided to stop pursuing the skill set I had acquired, because I was scared of who I would become.

There’s a saying or something, along the lines of “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  I felt that if I kept down the path I was heading, that was how I would end up.  I didn’t want to sell my soul, so I decided to just find other areas to become good at, such as marketing.

Well, back to this fellow who was my so called friend.  As he had achieved his success, he would always invite me out with him to drink.  Sometimes I would be up, sometimes I would be down.  He always insisted that he would pay for everything when we went out, but when the bill actually came… He would always use the same techniques that I taught him, back at me, to get me into paying for a large portion of the bill.

I’m not the type of person who really gets into people’s faces nor displays how I feel, so I just gave him that glance of “Wow, you’re really doing this to me?!”, however I never voiced my concerns.  Inside, I grew a grudge against him.  He continued to do this for years and years.

As I was getting my life back on track, one day he had me pick him up in my Lexus.  He went upstairs to change, and I decided that I was sick and tired of being around a person like him, so I decided to just drive off while he was changing.  He called me and told me how messed up I was.  I just agreed and let him blow off steam, not even telling him how I felt about the years of disrespect he had shown me.

Like any angry person does, he went off and told everyone about what I did and started defaming my character.  I wasn’t even on the defensive.  I just let people talk, and when they told me about what he was saying, I would just say, “Oh, who cares”.

A few weeks went by.  One of my best friends was having a birthday party.  The following day, I had a meeting with my investors.  This friend of mine has always been and is still dear to my heart.  I’ve known her for the last twelve years of my life.  Back when we were sixteen, we used to ditch school together and drink randomly.  We were such horrible messes, but we were friends and will always be friends.  She’s one of the purest, most genuine people I know.  She’s pursuing a highly successful career now.

Here’s a picture of us at her birthday party this year, an 80’s themed party at a roller skating rink. Yay for rollerskating!  (Yes, I know… I look old… Don’t make fun of me.  I just bought a ton of skin care to try to recapture my youth!  I asked a question on Quora and people said I won’t look gay if I use it, so it’s been Quora Certified for me to use! Question can be seen here: Would you think a male who used skin care products was gay?)

What does it feel like to lose a lot of money quickly02

Well, anyway, I decided to show up at her party.  She was having it at a bar that no longer exists in Koreatown, which was called Matrieya.  She had hundreds of friends visit her.  Actually, it was an amazing event for her.  She had such an amazing time.

While I was there, I encountered a mutual friend of the person who disliked me.  He called me over to speak to him.  I was doing my best to be humble and sincere back then, so I decided to talk to him.  He called me to come outside of the building and to follow him.  I had that uneasy feeling in my stomach… I thought of calling one of my other friends out for protection, but kind of ignored that gut instinct I had.  Instead, I just followed, even though all my senses stated that I was entering a dangerous situation.

He pulled me over on the other side of the street.  He said he wanted to talk to me.  Out of nowhere, he started swinging at me.  He just swung and swung and swung.

I can’t fight.  I may have been in ten fights in my life.  In between me and whomever is reading this… I have a secret.

These ten fights I have been in during my life weren’t fights…

They were massacres and I was the victim.

I have no aim.  I couldn’t hit someone where I wanted to in my life depended on it.  If someone had stated that I would have to defeat another person or die, I’d probably just choose death.  I know for a fact, that there would be no way I could win, even if I was up against someone half my age, or even three times my age…

So he took off on me.  I was all bloody.  He walked off.  I called 911.  I waited in front of 7-11 for about an hour.  The police took pictures.  I filed a police report.  After I filed a police report, I called the person who was talking negatively about me and told him of what had happened.

His reaction was interesting.  I guess he didn’t really expect his friend to do something like that.  He attempted to make up for the situation, and at first I was going to forgive him.  Then the next day came…

I had my meetings all lined up.  In hindsight… This was one of the worst days of my life.

My first meeting went horrible.  I think I was fired from my job.  My second meeting was worse.  My investor backed out of funding everything.

I was basically told that if I couldn’t take care of myself, then I couldn’t do the job I was assigned to do nor manage the money that was allotted to me.  Overnight, I was dead broke.

I had no way to afford rent.  I had no way to afford my car.  I had no way to go out to do anything.

One event changed my whole life.

I was scared.  I froze up like a deer facing the headlights of an oncoming car.  I didn’t know what to do.  I reflected back upon all the times I had failed before.  I remembered how hard it was to overcome all my failures and get back on my feet.  I remembered the panic attacks I had because of how uncertain I was about tomorrow.  All these feelings were rushing straight to my head.

I had panic attacks.  I broke down.  I cried.  I lost hope.  I gave up.  I didn’t know what to do.

I knew I had to get out of the situation I was in, but after failing so many times in a row… I didn’t have it in me to do so.  I was a cat who died 8 times and I was on my last life… So instead, I just crawled up in a ball and hid.

I would only leave home to buy Jameson from Smart and Final so I could further drown myself into misery.  I don’t even know where I had the money to buy my alcohol to shelter myself from the pain I was feeling… But I always had a bottle by my side…  I watched movies endlessly, barely sleeping, just praying that time would stop and leave me alone.

My self esteem had faltered.  I no longer had any confidence in anything I did.  I knew I would start losing everything.  Then I did.

First, I watched as my car vanished.  A piece of me died.

Then, all I did was just sit around and wait for my eviction notice.  I knew where I was going.  I had no one to turn to.  My life was over.  This one mistake, not trusting my intuition in such a dangerous situation… Was going to cause me to end up living on the streets.

I was ready to just give up on everything and rot away under a bridge in Los Angeles.  I didn’t think I had a way out.  I just knew that there was no hope to move forward.  I accepted the position I was in and was ready to just be poor for the rest of my life.

Deep inside, I admitted failure and knew that I would never be able to achieve success again.  I tossed in the towel.  I lost at the game of life and I knew it.  My life was over…

I don’t know what happened, but I guess I told my mother about what had happened and she had told my grandmother.  My grandmother, after 10 years, had finally decided that she no longer wanted to disown me and allowed me to live in her home.  She saved me from spending the rest of my life on the street.

In the first month I lived with my grandmother… I knew I had become a failure.  I was so disappointed with myself, all I did was sleep and wake up to eat and play video games.  I was just over it all and didn’t even think I had a chance to get back on my feet.  I was thankful to have a place to live, but my ego was tarnished because I didn’t even have a home any longer.  I had to live under my grandmother’s roof and under her rules.

My freedom was lost.

I was so embarrassed by how far I fell, I refused to tell any of my friends where I lived.  I just hid and hid and hid.  Eventually, my grandmother had got tired of me staying at home and doing nothing, so she forced me to get a job.  I didn’t really have a motivation to work because of how I had felt, so I just took the first job that interviewed me.

I got paid a total $2,300 for the eight months I had worked with my new employer, even though I was promised at least $20,000 for that timeframe and a free iPad.  However, just the act of working and having a place go to helped me rebuild my confidence in myself.

I remembered that I did have what it took to recover.  I understood that love conquers all and that family will always help you when you need it.  I learned to become more trustworthy and humble. I learned how to slowly rebuild my life and unleashed myself from the shackles of self doubt that had trapped me as a prisoner in my own mind.

Slowly, I worked away at myself and recovered.  However, back to how it feels to lose everything….  There isn’t a moment of my life when I don’t reflect back to see how far I had fallen and how hopeless I had become…  It was as if the life was sucked out of my body and I no longer had a purpose to live.  I just gave up and tossed in the towel, without the slightest clue that I would be granted a second chance to live my life.

Today, I’m so grateful that I have fallen so far, as I would have never learned nor took the time to acquire the new skills I do have.  I refuse to let a day go by where I don’t express my humility or gratitude for just being alive and being able to breathe.  I’m grateful to live in a place with a roof over my head and having friends and family members who love me.  I have stopped being so close minded and have finally opened up my heart to share with the world…

Hopefully I won’t be judged for losing everything and becoming the loser I have grown into today.  Maybe, there is hope in humanity and I can continue on with my life without ever experiencing something as traumatizing as this was again.  Idealistically, my story may be able to help someone who has fallen much like I have, and inspire them to continue to move forward with their lives, much like how James’ story has inspired me.

However, I don’t expect anything from the future.  I just can only try to be as humble and genuine as possible.  I can do my best to remember to count my blessings and think of everything that I am grateful for.

Only time will tell what will happen from now…

To read a little more about my other failures, you’re more than welcome to view this link as well: Being on Top of the World, to Losing It All

Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.

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