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Thanks to SoFi for sponsoring The Financial Confessions. Go to http://sofi.com/million to enter SoFi’s Forget Your Student Debt Sweepstakes and view official rules. Void where prohibited.

Chelsea speaks with writer and producer Franchesca Ramsey about going through a divorce in the public eye, monetizing your life amidst the Try Guys PR fiasco, and how to create an online brand that doesn't infringe on your actual life.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

It's me, your host, Chelsea Fagan, founder and CEO of The Financial Diet and woman who loves to talk about money. And today I'm really, really excited to be here with someone who I have known for pretty much the entirety of my career making content on the internet.

She's someone who experienced viral recognition and all of the good and bad that comes with it over a decade. Over a decade? Yeah.

Over a decade now, which as we in internet times is a century, and since then has gone through so many personal and professional transformations and has remained, I have to say, quite admirably candid about the whole experience. Again, as we talk about often on the channel, a lot of times when you see content creators from a distance, their lives seem pretty universally aspirational. And it's also easy to conflate things like viral success with making a lot of money.

As we've discussed also before on the channel, both of those perceptions are often incorrect, which is why it's so refreshing when guests like the one I have on today take a little bit more of a peek behind the curtain and allow people to understand that while this can be an incredibly fulfilling industry to work in and that sharing your life can have awesome benefits, it can also have huge limitations and drawbacks. She's also someone who's comfortable enough talking about a topic that we'll often talk about more in generalities here on the channel when we're speaking with lawyers and therapists and people like that but from a more personal level, and that's her divorce, which she has also been admirably candid about on her personal channels as well. So without further ado, I am so excited to welcome my guest today, writer, producer, creator, and all around fantastic person, Franchesca Ramsey.

Oh, thank you. That was a wonderful introduction. Yay, and I only messed it up like twice.

No, no teleprompter? I mean, I am impressed. I'm a teleprompter queen, so the professionalism, it's there.

And thanks to SoFi for supporting The Financial Confessions. To learn about refinancing and for a chance to have your student loans paid off, visit sofi.com/million. I think I've known you for about 10 years now.

Yeah, you interviewed me I would say I guess it was around 2012. Maybe I had just gone viral. And we talked-- For Thought Catalog.

For Thought Catalog. And we talked on the phone and we talked for hours. And we didn't even-- we talked about stuff for the interview, but then we also just talked as if we had been friends, which I really appreciated.

And since I've been interviewed a number of times, I found it really refreshing, because it was super easy to talk to you and we had a great conversation. We did. And we went to brunch at that place in Midtown East, which is for those of you who know New York, kind of one of the stranger neighborhoods in New York City, but it was a fabulous brunch as well.

Yeah. And so for those who may not know, can you just quickly set up what kind of made you go viral back in 2012 and the sort of immediate changes that represented for your life? Sure.

So up until that time, I had been making YouTube videos for about six years. I started when I was in college. And so I had a viral video called ""[BLEEP] White Girls Say to Black Girls" in 2012.

I had been working as a graphic designer. I worked at Ann Taylor at the time retouching Demi Moore's face. She was our girl of the moment at the time.

Oh my gosh. And soaking up that discount. This is not sponsored.

I wish it was. I wish it was. And so I had this incredible opportunity where I suddenly was having agents reach out to me.

I was getting asked to speak at companies and colleges. And so I was fortunate enough to have made a nice chunk of money off of that viral video. So I quit my day job and started pursuing entertainment, and I have not gone back to a regular job since then.

And I find it to be-- I'm very fortunate that I've been able to create a career for myself, especially considering there is not one specific roadmap of what to do once you go viral. How do you make a living out of this? That is very true.

And so do you mind sharing how much you made off of that video? Sure. I made $45,000.

Wow. And for context, those numbers are not possible now. And I often talk about the fact that while going viral was huge for my career at that time, it's not really a big deal anymore, especially because of platforms like TikTok where it's almost democratized the process of going viral.

And again, that's not a bad thing. But because of that, the ad rates are a lot lower. Everybody has had a viral TikTok or a viral tweet.

And even on YouTube, the rates have changed significantly over time. There have been creators that have said things that are racist and so then brands say we don't want to advertise on there and then the advertising rates have changed. So at the time, that was huge.

Now I think people say 12 million views, it's not a big deal, but it was truly life changing for me. That's interesting you say that. I feel like in the past two or three weeks, I've had multiple tweets that have had hundreds of thousands of likes.

I don't see a dime from that. Not that I ever expected to. I don't think anyone goes onto Twitter to monetize that.

But it is funny looking back and I'm like, wow, this is a lot of engagement for this platform and it's not even a question that as a creator I see none of that. Yeah, I mean on Twitter, I think we've all just accepted that we're not making money off of Twitter. No.

But Twitter does open doors for people professionally. That's true. But I don't think it's at the same rate that it was when it was fresh, shiny, and new.

Now it just is like, yeah, I've had some tweets that have gone viral. And I think now because it's happened to so many of our friends or we've seen it happen to ourselves, it's just not as special. And again, that's not to say that if you have a viral piece of content that you're not a good creator.

It's just that I kind of think about Andy Warhol saying in the future we'll all have 15 minutes of fame. It's true. Everybody can say one time people were talking about me on the internet, and then that time passes and people move on.

So as I mentioned in my intro, so I think what has made your-- and I hate to use such a phrase as personal brand, but I think it's just we got to use it. It is what it is. The fact that your personal brand has remained as relevant as it has, because I think a lot of people, if we look back at the "Shit X Say" creators, and granted, some of them I think just made a video for fun and had no intention of pursuing that as a job.

But the vast majority of people who made those videos and who experienced that wave of virality are no longer relevant in the same way. And I think, as I mentioned in the intro, that a huge part of the reason why your personal brand has had such staying power, obviously aside from the work that you've done well outside of the internet space, has been a level of candor and transparency with regards to the industry, with regards to the money, with regards to a lot of the drawbacks of having a very visible life. And I wonder as someone who, and we'll get into this in more detail, has gone through things like, for example, a divorce in a very, very public way with someone who you were very associated with, can you talk a little bit about your personal sort of judgment calls around balancing being transparent and honest about these things with sort of protecting your own privacy and mental health?

Oh. [LAUGHS] That's a great question and truly one that I still struggle with. I don't necessarily always feel like I get it right, but I do think it's a combination of practice. And also when I went viral, I was 28.

So I was a little bit older. I was still in my 20's, but I'm so thankful that it happened later in life so that I had a little bit of perspective as to what my career goals were. And also at the time, I was frustrated that my YouTube career was not achieving the levels of success that some of my peers were.

But in hindsight, I'm actually very thankful for that, because it kept me grounded and it kept me scrappy. And I always was looking for multiple ways to create income. The highs and lows of, wow, I got a huge check from YouTube this month and then next month my numbers were really down and I didn't have that check.

So making sure that I was always trying to look at different ways to create opportunities and income for myself I think was really important, because I never got to a place where I was like, I'm untouchable. This is never going away. I'm perfect.

I'm without flaws. And so because of that, I also was able to just build a really great team and really surround myself with people that keep me in check and keep me humble and make sure that if I have messed up, they're honest with me and I can step back and look at how to navigate forward from that. But in terms of protecting myself, again, it's hard.

There are moments where I think I wish that I had not, for example, monetized my relationship. I created a podcast with my ex-husband. And while I don't regret that, I realized that when our relationship ended, our audience and my fans felt entitled to know what happened, because we had opened that door, and then you can't close it.

And so I think because I had that lesson early in my career with certain things, I was able to say, I'm not going to make that mistake again. And so there are things going on in my life right now that my audience doesn't know about. And I think that I've really found a way to navigate being honest and being transparent in a way that protects myself.

So I don't necessarily always react in the moment. I give myself a little bit of time and distance before I share things. And so while it might feel like I'm having those experiences in real time, in reality it's like, this happened a month ago and now I feel more secure and comfortable talking about this in a public scale.

That's well said. And I mean, it's something that even I, I've never had-- my husband, for example, has never been on any of my content stuff. But even on my personal channels where it's not at the level that you're at, but I do have a decent amount of people who follow my personal accounts, not The Financial Diet's, to the extent that over the past year and a half, I've stopped posting friends.

I don't really post my family. Obviously any kids, I cover up their faces or anything. But even that feeling of-- it's not even like-- I love these people.

I'm not ashamed of them, obviously. It's not that I don't want-- that I would be embarrassed about it. But it's also well, A, I don't necessarily want a bunch of people I don't know going over to their pages and Lord knows what.

But also I think there is, I think, like you said, a sort of never ending expectation of access and openness. And the more you make your sort of public facing and whatever it is that you do, in your case it's a lot of editorial content, but maybe someone is a chef or maybe they're a designer or what have you. The more you make the things you're putting out sort of predicated on your personal life and self, the more you're sort of opening yourself up to, A, people always wanting more, but also, like in the case of what happened to your podcast, having to make a personal decision of you're having to apologize to a bunch of strangers about it.

Yeah, and I think it's this feeling of transparency and authenticity that is while on some level truthful, it's not the full picture. When you're seeing someone's life on social media or someone's career or someone's talent, you're getting a very small, pre-produced slice of that. There's still a whole other story happening.

And I'm guilty of this too where I forget it. And I think it has to do with a lot of things. But I theorize that even just the orientation of the phone and seeing someone's full face in the frame speaking directly to you, it feels like you have a relationship with that person.

They're not saying on this week's episode of the show. They're saying, hey guys, I'm going to bring you along with me. You and I.

And it suddenly feels like, oh, this person is my friend. And I'm sure you've had this too, where people have said things to me that I'm like, I would never say this to a stranger. Sometimes it's personal information.

Which I'm so flattered that people feel like they can share things or they want my advice on certain things. But there are often times where I think, this makes me really sad, because obviously you don't have somebody to reach out to because you do not know me. And your personal information is safe with me, but if you had shared this with someone else, you could be putting yourself in a really compromising position.

But I do think that social media has created this loop where the audience is part of the content and they feel as if the content is part of their lives and it's something that they look forward to. And so it is a really delicate balance. And again, I have friends in the business who I think, wow, if I could go back, I would do it like them, because I have friends who nobody knew they were married or they pulled a Beyonce and suddenly they had a baby.

And you're like, you had a baby? What's going on? And I think to myself, oh, I wish I had done that.

I wish y'all didn't know anything. I know. That's so funny you said that.

I had last week a call with a friend of mine who's a writer in London. And I had emailed her because I just wanted to catch up about the industry and stuff like that. And she was like, oh yes, also I adopted a little boy.

So I have a little bit less of a free schedule. And I was like, oh my God. When did that happen?

I love that I follow you, that I know the work that you do, and that your work being beloved and successful is not at all predicated on people having access to the fact that you by yourself adopted a child. And I think that that's also something that has really gotten lost is does the work speak for itself to the extent that you can really not make it about who you are? It's about what you're creating.

Yeah, and I think that that is a matter of deciding for yourself what your ultimate goals are. And you used personal brand and I know that some people feel icky about that, but really deciding what do I want people to associate with my brand? When they come to my profiles, when they come to my channel, when they watch my work, what is it that they're going to get?

And I do think that what often happens is you accidentally stumble on a new venture where you show one thing and then suddenly people latch on to that thing and then you just follow that path rather than saying, OK, I opened the door a little bit to this thing, but that's actually not what my content is about. I'm glad you enjoyed it, but this is what we're doing. And I think oftentimes, again, I've been guilty of it myself, we just follow the thing that's doing well without actually zooming out and saying, I know the fans are enjoying this, but this is not what I want to keep doing forever and ever.

Yeah. That forever and ever. I mean, there's definitely that feeling of-- especially I think it's really underrated that-- and by the way, the personal brand thing, if you have a LinkedIn and are trying to get hired at any old job, you have a personal brand to an extent.

So I think that's something that gets, I think, a little bit underrated. But talking about the forever and ever aspect of it, I think what a lot of people don't understand about YouTube in particular is that for a huge amount of channels, especially ones from the slightly earlier days of YouTube before it was adopted to the extent that it has been, their audiences are very, very, very young. And that was something that always really stuck out to me when I went to VidCon, for example, was how much a lot of these creators were-- someone I think once, I can't remember who it was, sorry I'm forgetting you, but they referred to YouTube as being full of 30 year old 15 year olds.

Yeah. [LAUGHS] That's funny. Which if you go to a VidCon type event, you're like, oh, that's 1,000% accurate. These are full grown adults who are in many ways acting like children.

And part of that is because they perhaps started creating content when they were. But they're following what's successful. Exactly.

And to that point, I think that's why a number of people have not been able to transition to other platforms or they've seen their content stagnate. Because while your content's not changing, your audience is growing. Your audience is getting older, and they're going to start being interested in new things and questioning certain things that they liked before and having a more critical eye to the content that they are consuming.

And if you're continuing to make content for that very specific audience and not growing and changing and pushing yourself to explore new things, not necessarily just doing what the fans want. I think that there has to be this delicate balance of I'm in control and you are the audience. And you might think you know what you want, but I ultimately have to decide what's right for me and what's right for this channel.

And if you need to move on, you're going to move on, and I'm going to be OK with that. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don't learn that lesson or they learn it too late. And you think, oh my gosh, they've been doing the same eat weird things challenge for 10 years.

It's like, girl, how many times can you eat a weird thing? Aren't you bored? I'm bored watching it.

Sometimes they do look good. I've seen a lot of people eat those ranch pickles and I'm like, mm. I might dump a ranch packet into my pickles.

But OK, so you mentioned it and I'm really-- I know that we're all a little exhausted by this topic, but I actually really want your opinion on it as someone who I think is really well placed. You mentioned earlier the extent to which you not regret necessarily but have let's just say complicated feelings about having monetized your relationship, as you put it, and having tied up a fair amount of your sort of professional persona with your marriage and kind of by definition, your ex-husband. We have talked a little bit, a tiny bit on the channel about what happened with The Try Guys.

Yeah. I was thinking about them too, honestly. Yeah.

And my kind of general take on it was I think that probably we-- I think we may end up taking the wrong lessons from what happened there in the sense of the lesson may end up being that this was just a uniquely bad guy who did something bad to his wife with an employee and all of that kind of stuff, which is true. I think that's a lesson to take. But when you look back at the content that their company was making, I mean, aside from the fact that all the spouses have their own shows on the network, the company itself is making all these compilations of them being couple goals and him saying my wife.

But it's the exact same thing of I watched BuzzFeed's content and they were really in a content mill where people were just cranking stuff out, cranking stuff out. And you're trying any and everything and if one thing hits, you just follow that thing. And so I believe that that's what happened to Ned.

He was one of the people in that group that was in a serious relationship probably earlier than others, got married young, and then the audience was really enjoying him talking about his wife, him showing his wife, and so he became the wife guy. And then you can't go back. And this is not to excuse what happened in their relationship.

Relationships are complicated. But what happened in that relationship happens in lots of places, but it felt more hurtful and more personal to their audience because they were like, you are the wife guy. OK, but he's also a multidimensional person and that is one aspect of his personality that you know about.

And obviously there was lots of other aspects of his personality that we didn't know about. But again, because we have these parasocial relationships in which creators and fans are benefiting from, twofold, the audience really feels as if they've been personally affronted because of something that happened in his marriage. Again, I watched it.

It was basically my Super Bowl for three weeks. But at the same time, I had to say to myself, again, I've been in not the same situation, but it's like something deeply personal is happening and there is no way for us to know all of the details. But because you have opened the door and because you have marketed yourself in this way, of course we all want to know.

Of course we all want to follow it. And I really did feel bad for the entire group, because when you have created a brand around being family friendly, a lot of their content is very PG, PG-13, something like that, that type of scandal was a huge hit for them. And they kind of were very honest about the financial hit that they took as a result, which I really appreciated, because I don't think I've seen other creators talk about that element of the business.

Totally. But I think the takeaway that you're describing, which is that this is ultimately his brand being formed around being a guy who loves his wife is just even in the best of cases, it's a precarious place to be because even couples that don't necessarily have affairs, they have fights. There could be all kinds of things that happen in that relationship.

And I think perhaps there will be a shift in the marketing and positioning as someone whose essentially full time brand and persona is loving their spouse. Or when it comes to a family vlogger having a perfect family, perhaps that will abate somewhat. But it actually doesn't seem super likely that that's the lesson that people are going to take, which is that this was probably not sustainable in the first place.

No, I absolutely don't think it's sustainable. And I think if you look at any creator who has had success, you will notice that they pivot. They're doing one thing and then they start doing another thing and then they do another thing.

And they branch out, they try different things. They have things that don't work out and then they make adjustments accordingly. It's really, really difficult to sustain one specific brand outside of being a content creator and any career goal, especially if you're in entertainment and you yourself are the product.

You are going to get burnt out. You're going to get bored and your audience is going to get bored at some point and they're going to crave something different even if they're telling you otherwise. And we've seen that a lot where they're like more of this, more of this.

I use Issa Rae as an example. If it was up to the fans, she would have made Awkward Black Girl forever. And she stopped making it and then she gave us Insecure and we love Insecure.

But when Awkward Black Girl ended, people were like, no, give us Awkward Black Girl. And it's like, I don't want to speak for her, but it's clear she wanted to do more and she was capable of more. I use Quinta Brunson as an example.

People were so confused when she left BuzzFeed. You are this huge viral star. There are memes of you everywhere.

You are so successful. Why would you stop doing the thing that has made you this cultural phenomenon? Well, she wanted to do more and she was clearly built for more.

And I think unfortunately, a lot of creators have this scarcity mindset of if I stop doing the thing that people love me for that I'm going to fade into irrelevancy. And I think zooming out and really saying, what's your ultimate goal, what's the thing that you really want to be doing, is crucial to make sure that you follow and navigate that path instead of moving from a place of fear. If I don't do this, I'm not going to be successful.

My fans are going to be mad if I don't put out a video or if I stop talking about A, B, and C. And again, I say all of this from a perspective of someone that has learned that lesson the hard way. But every time I've learned the lesson, I've said, OK, cool.

I'm going to do something different. And I think that that's helped me continue to remain successful. Well said.

You mentioned, like Issa Rae and Quinta and there's been a few others from the early '10s internet era, the BuzzFeed industrial complex type era, who have achieved what I think most people would probably regard as the highest possible level of traditional success in the field. Headlining-- do they write those shows? Yeah.

They both write. OK, so writing, starring. You're not going to get better than that really.

Part of me always wonders, because that doesn't happen to be my particular channel of where I would consider the highest level of success. But when it comes to navigating, you mentioned earlier feeling back when you were doing more YouTube kind of a sense of inadequacy about not having your channel where you necessarily would want it to be. And then obviously, we can look around and see a few of these very specific examples of people who've achieved this.

On both sides, how do you not compare yourself to other people in your space who may be doing things that you want to do or even, let's be honest, not these two girls, but people who are doing high level stuff that you don't think is very good or that you are not respecting editorially. So how do you kind of avoid that feeling of it's not even envy necessarily, but I think it perhaps goes back to inadequacy and then kind of beyond that. When you achieve these things that it may not be a network television show, but you've clearly achieved things that yourself of a few years previously would have thought unimaginable.

But I imagine when you achieve them, they don't feel quite the same as you imagined. So how do you sort of even when it is going exactly as you want it kind of prevent that lifestyle creep of then needing the next big thing? Yeah.

I mean, I've told this story a number of times. But when I was early in my YouTube career, I think it was after ""[BLEEP] White Girls Say," I went to South by Southwest, and there was a YouTuber that I was very envious of. Her channel had millions of subscribers.

I mean, she was absolutely crushing it. And I really kind of had this chip on my shoulder as why is she-- I don't even think she's that great. How is she doing all this stuff?

So I met her at a party and she was delightful. She was so nice. Oh no.

I was like, I hate her. She was so nice and she was giving me advice about my channel and what I could be doing differently. And what I was really struck by was that even though she had all of these things that I wanted, she still had her own challenges.

She was explaining to me that she was going through some contract stuff and her financial things were kind of difficult for her and she was unable to do certain things because of her contractual obligations. And I was like, whoa, this is so weird. From the outside, you have every single thing that I want.

But in reality, there are challenges that you're going through that I have no idea about. And similarly, I'm sure there are people looking at me and having same feelings about where I'm at. So that was really eye opening.

And then another thing that she said that I continuously hold on to is that she said that she had essentially created a contract with herself where she said, here's what my job is. Here's what I'm trying to achieve this week or this month or this year. And as long as I do that, then I believe that I'm successful.

It's not about how many views I get. It's not how many brand deals I get. It's not about being able to buy a house or a car or whatever.

I've set out this month I want to write 10 new sketches. I want to finish my screenplay. I want to read 30 books.

I mean, some of her goals were not even related to her career. And I thought that was such an empowered way to look at taking ownership of where you're at in life and especially for me in a career where so much is out of my control. I don't necessarily always know where my next job is coming from.

I'm sometimes competing with other people, I don't even know how many people, for the same job. Especially when you're doing brand deals and you get 1/3 up front and then you get 1/3 on the next. You're like, OK, the deadline keeps moving.

I don't know what's going to happen. But if I can say, well, the thing that I'm working towards is finishing my first feature. Or I'm going to take a class or I'm going to-- I really want to mentor someone.

I can control those things and that has been really perspective shifting for me. I think you're always going to have moments where you compare yourself to others, especially in a career like mine where so much of success is predicated on somebody else telling you that you're successful. It's not like I'm an accountant and I can say I hit this percentage of sales or I have this many new whatever.

I can't tangibly put it in numbers and say, I got this many new clients, so I'm successful. No, I need someone to hire me and tell me that I'm successful. The show needs to get x amount of views.

It needs to get picked up for another season. I can't control those things. And so when I do feel jealousy, I try to ask myself, what is this really highlighting for me?

What is that person doing or what does that person have that I wish that I had? And how can I actually move towards that? Or just reminding myself they probably have some challenges too that I just don't know about.

Yeah. I think that that's very wise, honestly, especially as you put it, in an industry where nothing is truly quantifiable in terms of what is success. But something that always struck me about you when I met you through the years is I think a lot of people can be a bit self deprecating when it comes to what their goals are.

And something that always stuck out to me about you is that when you express what your goals, they were always massive. You were like, I want to be Oprah. I think you actually said those words.

And you had this level of aspiration for yourself that I think a lot of people don't allow themselves. And I think to me, there's a very powerful sort of manifester energy in that of I don't limit what I think is possible for myself. But I also always wondered hearing you say these things in a way that I found very aspirational was how do you balance having these really, really kind of lofty goals for yourself with not constantly chasing after something that, as you put it, may not even be in your own hands to get?

Setting yourself up for the potential to fall short of that, which I think a lot of people are very afraid of. Yeah. I mean, I have to give a shout out to my parents, especially my mom, because I realized that I'm very fortunate in the sense that I have parents that have always encouraged me to just go for what I want.

And I realized that that's something that a lot of people do not have, especially in the arts. A lot of creative people's parents will say, well, when are you going to get a real job? And my parents have never said that to me.

They've always been like, OK, as long as you do the best that you can, we're here for it. So I feel very fortunate in that respect. But also I think when you met me at that time, yeah, I'm sure being Oprah really was on my to do list.

But as I've gotten older, I have really had to step back and say, it is OK to be open to my path shifting and changing. And that, again, there's certain things that I cannot control and I have to be OK with that. And really drilling down on what I can do every single day or every month.

I'm very data driven. I love to journal. I love to bullet, habit track.

And I love being able to look at the end of the month and say, wow, I did 10,000 steps every day this month or I played tennis 15 times this month or whatever it is. And so looking at my life in that way has been really helpful for me. And then I think just the other thing is being open to the possibility of the thing that you're supposed to be doing or the thing that's going to really fulfill you might not even exist yet.

And that was really something that I realized after finding success on YouTube. I went to college and I thought I was going to be an actress and then I went to graphic design school. I didn't know that I was going to have a viral video.

I didn't know that I was going to turn into a television writer and speak at colleges. And I feel really fulfilled by those things, but those are not things that I set out and said these are the goals that I'm working towards. The company you're supposed to be working for might not exist yet, the thing that ends up lighting your fire.

I also think about the fact that I've been stuck in development on these projects for two years and I have been pitching them with certain actresses in mind. They don't know that. They're probably being like, God, I just really need another audition.

And here I am in a room going, if you guys make this show, here's who I want to put in it. Here's who I want to put in it. So your name might be spoken in rooms that you don't even know about.

There are people who want to work with you or that have some passion project and you are the perfect person for it and they're just waiting to get funding. They're just waiting to crush that meeting or meet with the right producers or whatever it might be. And so thinking about opportunities in that way has been really helpful for me to say that the things that are meant for me and the things that I am ignited by, they're coming to me whether I know it or not.

And so all I can do is focus on what's right in front of me and what I can control, because I can't determine when those people or those things are going to come into my life. Damn, this is all so healthy. [LAUGHTER] Also shout out to my therapist. I was gonna say.

Honestly, I swear, I wish she got commission every time I mentioned her, because homegirl would have a second house because of me. I am always talking about her. I cannot recommend really making a practice of having somebody that you can talk to judgment free.

And it's frustrating because I know mental health and therapy are not easily accessible to everyone. Totally. And there is still a level of stigma.

But I am so thankful that we're in a place where more people seem to be comfortable talking about their therapist and their mental health journeys. But it has been really, really transformative for me. I also love therapy.

I'm not in therapy at moment, but I've been in therapy over the past several years at different times. It's a man, actually. It's rare that I talk to a man, but he's a great guy.

You know what's so funny? I can't believe-- he's not watching this. I hope not.

But I remember when I was first looking for a therapist, I was like, I sort of because my company is all women and most of my friends are women, I obviously do have some men in my life, but for the most part, I don't really interact with men very much. And so I was like, I kind of want a man because I sort of perceive them as less real. And I feel like I will be more uninhibited versus a woman who is too much of a real person.

That's funny. Thanks to our friends at SoFi for supporting this episode of The Financial Confessions. In case you haven't heard, the student loan repayment pauses ending June 30, 2023.

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Void where prohibited. To learn about refinancing and for a chance to have your student loans paid off, visit sofi.com/million. On that note though, this is something we talk a lot about on TFD is the sort of commodification of mental health in a way and sort of the self care-ification of it on the internet, which I think is often pretty counterproductive.

And I mean, listen, there are therapists on TikTok and shit that I'm like, OK, you should lose your license and you're like out here making these TikToks. Because some of them I think are very misleading. Some of them I think are giving advice that feels good in the short term.

A lot of the self care talk that I think was really big, especially over the past few years, is really kind of centering I think a vision of wellness that is very sort of immediate gratification and what feels good in the moment and all of those things. And I've personally found, and I'm curious as to what you think, that a lot of the real meaningful stuff that often comes out of therapy is the stuff that is very delayed gratification, is the stuff that's out of your hands, is the stuff that doesn't necessarily feel great in the moment. And I'm kind of curious the way that you view and have come to integrate mental health care in your life through your own therapeutic experience versus the way you approached it before getting into that.

Yeah, I mean, I went into therapy because I knew I was struggling. So I really got-- I did therapy in college and then I took a long break. I didn't have health care.

And then in 2017 leading up to my book coming out, I was really stressed. I was so terrified that my book was going to come out and it was going to be this big failure or people were going to read it and they were going to be mad at me and I didn't say certain things correctly. And I was just putting so much pressure on myself.

And so I found a therapist. And I think what really was perspective shifting for me through our relationship was the idea that you can't control everything. You can only control how you respond to it and really setting intentions for yourself of here's how I'm going to navigate this situation for better or for worse rather than I need a spa treatment.

And that's going to make me feel better because I'm sad. And also accepting that it's OK to be sad. That is a natural thing.

There's going to be peaks and valleys. I definitely had times where I was going to therapy every week and I would have a string of good weeks and I'm like, I'm great. I don't need therapy anymore.

I could do once a month. And then the next week I'd be like, ah, something terrible happened. I can't deal with this.

And so making sure that I had strategies in place so that when I feel down, I can honor those feelings, but then I can also work towards moving through them in a productive way. And also that zooming out thing. One of the things that my therapist gave me that I think has truly been a big game changer for me is what she calls a wins jar.

I write down on a little piece of paper when something good happens. And it can be big or small. And I keep it on my desk.

And when I'm having a bad day, I go through the jar and I look at things in there. And I remember, oh, these are all accomplishments that I could feel really good about. Even though I'm having a tough time right now, this tough time is not going to last forever.

I'm going to have good days and bad days. It's just a natural part of my journey. And so having that as a constant, especially when things are going bad, I can go, you know what?

I'm going to put this away, because I'm going to therapy on Saturday and that is when I will talk about this. I don't have time right now. One of my favorite phrases in that genre that I actually got from a Real Housewives podcast-- listen, insights can come from anywhere.

But one of the guests was like, she had taken on this new practice, had taken on this practice of she was like, it's her framing of not taking this on right now. She was like, certain bad things will happen that are not game changers. But there are things that often become unpleasant, lead people to spiral, get into their head about it, especially in a way that's not productive.

In a situation where you can't necessarily do anything about it. And so she was like, my kind of mantra about this is I'm just not taking that on right now. I don't identify with it.

That's not the person. I'm just not-- this is not. I will put this in a box and bring it out later when I can do something about it.

And it's not always totally achievable, but I have tried to do that before, and it really I think does-- there's something I think very powerful like you're saying and accepting that there are going to be moments that don't feel good. But there's also I think power in sort of allowing yourself to ride those waves without necessarily prolonging them by trying to deny them, which I think a lot of the sort of relentless positivity talk encourages us to do. Even something like body positivity.

I think there's now been more and more of a growing kind of pushback of I don't want to have to be positive about my body all the time. I'm not positive about my body. You're allowed to have complicated feelings about your body.

And there are going to be some days where you're like, I look amazing. And there are going to be days where you're like, I don't really feel very great. Totally.

And that is totally normal and OK. Also sometimes you just feel [BLEEP] in your body. And that's OK too.

Sometimes you're just like, I feel physically not great. And it's not I think healthy or wise to constantly want to force yourself to reframe that in a positive way. Which kind of brings me to, and I want to thank you up front for being willing to speak candidly about divorce, especially from the sort of financial business side of it.

I think as someone who did have your marriage as part of your business, you had a podcast together, you did a lot of work together, you co-wrote, I believe, and you obviously had a lot of therefore financial entanglements beyond just the marriage. But also that being such a part of your public persona I can only imagine then became whether or not you would have wanted to take that on a part of your public perception of success and achievement. And so I would really love to hear about how you navigated that publicly, both from a financial business perspective and an emotional one while not or maybe at times allowing yourself to view it as some kind of a personal failure, especially being a public figure.

Yeah. It's really interesting. The framing that you're using is really speaking to me.

Because this idea of a marriage being successful or a failure is one that I've had to grapple with. And I even recently had a tweet that was viral about this where someone said, if you get a divorce, that means your marriage was a failure. And I said, you know what?

I'm going to push back and say I realize that I am biased in this instance, but I also think that we have to-- or what has been helpful for me is to change my idea of what success is and making sure that I can define it for myself. And while my marriage ended, it doesn't mean that my marriage was all bad. There were some really great moments in there.

And I have a lot of great memories and a lot of great people were brought into my life because of that. And it ending does not mean that I'm a bad person or my ex is a bad person. It means that we needed to close that chapter and move forward.

Again, therapy has been crucial for me in getting to this place, because now here I am, three years out from my divorce. I would not have been able to talk about it in this way three years ago. If you had asked me to speak at length negatively about my ex, I would.

I'm not in that place now. And again, it's just been a practice that I've had to really work on. And on the topic of talking about it publicly, I realized once I was honest about it how many people it was helping.

And that's been something that I've noticed throughout my career is that when I've been transparent and honest with things in my life, while I don't think that that makes me special, it is rare. And I find that my audience, it really resonates with them. So I get lots of messages from people that are like, I'm going through a divorce and I see where you're at after you've gone over the hump and it makes me think, I'm going to be OK.

I can get there too. And so that was really important for me to say, look, this was a challenging time. It was one of the hardest times in my life.

It did not break me. My world did not end. My life has gone on.

I feel resolute in my decision to end my marriage. I wish nothing but the best for my ex-husband. And I feel like I'm in a really great place in my life that I could not be at if I had not made that difficult choice.

And we have to make difficult choices in our lives all of the time. When it came to the financial aspect, another reason that I was excited to have this conversation, and candidly a little nervous, because I haven't talked about it in this scale, is I have found that many people, myself included, did not understand the realities of a divorce settlement. And for me, my ex and I always had separate bank accounts.

We always filed our taxes separately because we had different scales of pay and my ex had debt that he didn't want to have to be responsible for if we had a joint income. It's like, oh, well now you can pay a higher amount in your student loans or your credit cards. So we always did all those things separately.

So to me I was like, OK, the marriage is over. This is going to be no problem. But legally all of that is still seen as a marital asset.

So that was a huge mind blower to me. I was like, what are you talking about? Our accounts are separate.

It's like, that doesn't matter. I had no idea. And then there's also just the misconception that alimony or divorce settlements are gendered.

Often people think about The First Wives Club and you think of I'm going to take him for everything he has. And while that has historically I think people associate it with that, because you think of women who forgo their careers to raise children or don't go to college or at a time when women couldn't have bank accounts, yes, those things often did lean in the favor towards the female partner in hetero relationships. PS, I'll add that.

But in reality, it's the spouse who makes more money is going to be the person who is paying to make sure that the other spouse can maintain a quality of life that they had during their partnership. And also even if you don't have kids, even if you have not forgone your career, there are always compromises made in every relationship. You choose to live in this state.

You choose to take a job that maybe you wouldn't have taken. You choose to live in a certain apartment, whatever it may be. And so those compromises are assessed when it's time for the relationship to end.

And that's what that alimony, that's what that settlement is about. Here I was being like, well, we don't have kids. We don't own any property.

Why do I have to pay a settlement? And so understanding that, while it was difficult, I'm in a place now that I can say, OK, you know what? That does make sense.

And I think for me having this conversation, it was important to share it because I know a lot if people don't know that. Every time I talk to, it's usually women, and I disclose that I paid a settlement to my ex, they're like, what are you talking about? What?

I'm like, yeah, this is probably something that you should know. And I think it is because we often go into marriage thinking about the dress and the party and the ring and not thinking about that this is a legal contract. I didn't have a prenup and most people I know don't have prenups.

Yeah, that was going to be my next question. In my experience, people that have prenups are people that have money, their parents have money, and/or they've been married, divorced prior. That should not be the case, by the way.

And it shouldn't. It totally shouldn't. But I think, again, it is so difficult to talk about money.

And that is one of the top reasons that marriages dissolve is because of financial issues. And a prenup essentially demands that you and your partner have a really honest conversation about your finances. Not just about if you end your marriage.

Having joint bank accounts. Who pays for what? Who's responsible for what?

If you guys end up having kids, what does their college fund look like? All of those things can be in your prenuptial agreement, and they serve as a contract so that when you have challenges within your marriage, you can refer back to that document and say, well, here is what we decided that we were going to do from the jump. And again, I'm guilty of not thinking about marriage in that way, because I was thinking about all the fun of it and not actually thinking about the day to day challenges and how finances play a big role in that.

Well, again, I have to hats off to you for being so candid. One of our most popular interviews we ever did on this show is back in I want to say season one with James Sexton, with a divorce lawyer, who also I just think he could have been talking about any old thing and he was just a very interesting person to listen talk. But he's a divorce lawyer and a very high powered divorce lawyer in Manhattan.

So you can only imagine the type of divorces that this man is involved in. And of course, there were a lot of salacious anecdotes and crazy stories. And he gave a lot of good advice.

But one of the things that he really kind of illustrated, which was not shocking, when you hear it, you understand it, but it's not something that I think people would intuitively know if they haven't been through it is he talked about how almost in every case, once the divorce is in any way complicated financially, which it often is especially if there's no prenup, it's very difficult to avoid getting on a kind of negative feedback loop of pettiness, of spending thousands on lawyers' fees to save a few hundred dollars of personal property or whatever it may be, retaliation, completely losing a sense of mutual ownership, all of that. Which I can only imagine is possibly compounded if you are having to unexpectedly pay the other party a settlement. So I want to hear about what that process was like from, first of all, the emotions of having to pay that settlement, but also navigating a divorce without perhaps necessarily getting into that really atrocious and expensive tit for tat.

Yeah. So we actually went to a mediator, which I highly recommend. What is that?

So mediation is when instead of having two separate lawyers where you are then fighting it out with your spouse, you work with one usually family attorney to make a decision about your settlement together. And it's so funny, because I truly am the divorce guru in my friend group. We are now in that age where everyone's getting a divorce.

I did it first, and everyone's coming to me. And they're like, what do I do? And I always say go to a mediator.

Because I'm sure this attorney talked to you about this, but the average divorce takes at least three years. Wow. And these are all things that I learned during my divorce.

But during that time, the spouse who makes more money has to pay the legal fees of the other spouse, and often they have to pay alimony. And so what ends up happening sometimes is that one spouse's lawyer will draw things out in order to continue collecting funds. Also any money that you make during that time while you're still married are considered marital assets.

So if you get a divorce or you've separated and it's not finalized, then you get a new job and you're making a lot more money, all of that money goes into the pot that your soon to be ex-spouse can claim. So I actually sat down with my financial advisor and my business manager and I was like, I'm getting a divorce. What do I do?

And my business manager was like, I know a really great mediator. And so that was the suggestion that they made. I was able to get-- we were able to get divorced in seven months, which is really fast.

And again, hindsight is 20/20, because it was the year before the pandemic. And if we hadn't done that, the pandemic would have exacerbated and all the courts were closed. So I highly recommend the mediator, because what the mediator does is say, let's all put everything on the table.

Let's look at all of our finances together. Versus when you normally get a lawyer, you have people hiding accounts and hiding money and not disclosing to the other partner how much money they have or business assets and the like. With a mediator, it's like, no, we're going to talk about everything and we are going to work to find an amount that works for both of us.

I will never forget. My mediator said this and I thought it was so funny. She said, I know I've done my job when one person thinks they paid too much and the other person doesn't think they got enough.

And that's what happened with us. So good job. Because essentially, there's always going to be one party who thinks kind of how this attorney was saying that they're entitled to more.

And it really does come down to you've had a relationship with this person and you're grieving the partnership. You're grieving the future that you thought you were supposed to have together. Just the stigma of being a divorced person.

It's a lot to deal with, and I find for myself I know that there were times that I said things that I regret. And I heard the quote once if you want to know who you married, get a divorce. And I think that it's very true.

Because when you are in challenging times is when you really see people push through their limits and parts of their personality kind of are revealed that maybe aren't favorable. And so having a mediator, having a neutral party who's able to say, listen, I know you're really pissed off, but I have dealt with bajillionaires and this is not a lot of money. Or you don't want to go down this route because this is going to cost you in the end.

There was a moment where we both thought, well, gee, we were having a hard time coming to an agreement on the number. And it was like, well, we could go to court. And our mediator was able to say, if you go to court, this is going to drag out for years.

Because you don't get to decide when you go to court. And you are also putting this in the hands of someone that doesn't know you, someone who's just going to look at the numbers, and they're just going to make a decision. They're not going to take into account where you are in your career and where you live and you support your parents and you have this much student loan debt and here's X, Y, and Z reasons why you didn't work at this time.

They're not going to look at all of that. They're just going to go, yeah, sure, here. And you're not going to actually have a say.

So I'm very thankful that we worked with the mediator. And then we also went to a therapist to talk through some of the feelings that we were having about the ending of our partnership. And it was a man, which I was very thankful for.

And so that was really helpful, especially because there were often times where one of the things he made us do that was so frustrating to me but it was actually really important is any time you wanted to respond, you had to reiterate what the other person had said before you were allowed to respond. And it was really important for us to actually hear what the other person was saying rather than just listening to respond and getting to a place where I could say, look, I don't necessarily agree with you, but I understand why you feel that way and why you have come to this place. And just feeling like we could disclose things with an impartial party who is going to be able to just give us perspective that if it was just us, I don't necessarily know we would have always been comfortable saying those things.

You're worried about hurting someone or you're worried about it being misinterpreted and now you have this other person there who can really push back and say, OK, but that's actually not what he said. I've been guilty of this where it's like, oh, so what you really mean is. No, I am now projecting my own feelings onto what you just said.

Here is what you actually did say. And so that was really helpful for us, and I highly recommend that. Wow.

I was pretty emotional. I was like, am I going to cry at parts of that? That is really I think-- that saying about if you want to know who you married, get divorced.

I think there's a lot of truth, but I also think in some ways there's a bit of unfairness to it in the sense of I think, obviously this probably wasn't your case, make no assumptions, but in the case of to go back to a Ned situation, maybe they won't get divorced, who knows. But if they did and you're an aggrieved spouse who's been cheated on in such a public and horrible way on top of the violation of power and all that stuff, if you act in a way that is unbecoming, let's say, that may not be the most accurate reflection of you. And I think what you said about having things that you regret having said and done but kind of forgiving yourself for having done it and knowing that you were in a situation that was so stressful and that anyone pushed to these points is probably-- no one wants to be filmed during that time.

Let's put it that way. I think that's also really healthy too. You mentioned that you're-- doing the math, 37, 38?

Yeah, I'm 38. I'm turning 39. Drop the skin care routine. [LAUGHTER] So you were mentioning that you're kind of in this phase of your life where people around you are getting divorced.

We have interviewed while here an author and activist named Eve Rodsky, who wrote a book called Fair Play, which was a big bestseller, became a documentary, all of this. And it's basically predicated on basically the concept of the book is that we've had this revolution that put women into the workplace, which has had mixed results, let's say, And has not been the same success for all women and all of that. But even in the best case scenario of that happening where women are breaking glass ceilings and so forth, we have not had a comparable revolution of men in heterosexual relationships entering the domestic sort of sphere in the same way.

They are not in any way doing a comparable amount of domestic labor, especially when it pertains to child care. So women are really expected to be full time mothers and full time workers. And now because of depressed wages and higher cost of living, even if a woman doesn't necessarily want to work, it's very rare to be able to sustain children on a single income.

So a lot of women-- and the data from her book was so fascinating about how almost universal it is in these married couples, especially with children, for women to be completely burned out, to be overworked, to have her labor totally undervalued, and for this just to be normalized, completely banal. And this is having all kinds of negative health impacts on women. It's leading women to self medicate, all this stuff.

And even when we talked in my interview with her, even in I think most women's anecdotal lives, we can look around at a lot of heterosexual marriages around us and being like, girl, you are getting the short end of this stick, especially as children come into the picture. And we talked about how in some cases, now the goal if you want to stay with your partner, and that's kind of the purpose of her book, is to get to a place where this is more of equitable and these responsibilities are shared. But for a lot of women, and it is women who initiate the vast majority of divorces, separation often becomes the preferable option because at least then there are days where you truly don't share these responsibilities.

And there's a lot more clarity about fairness and all that stuff. When you look around at the relationships that other women are in, the women who follow you, I'm sure you got enormous amounts of women reaching out to you, what role do you think kind of de-stigmatizing divorce plays in if not necessarily ending relationships that maybe should be ended at least kind of empowering women to demand better for themselves rather than to sort of just accept that marriage is inevitable and this very skewed kind of domestic shakeout that we see in marriages is also inevitable? Yeah.

I mean, I think one of the nice things about so many women choosing themselves in these situations is it does have a trickle down where people are able to say, oh, I see someone else that has done it. I talked to my mother when I was going through my divorce. And we've always had a really close relationship, but our relationship got closer because she talked to me about her divorce and things that I didn't know.

And she really talks about the fact that when she was getting a divorce, which oh my gosh, I guess this was in the early '90s. I'm going to say like '93. She was saying her friends, she was the only one.

And so her friends were like, what are you doing? He has a good job. On paper, he is good in all of these ways.

We don't understand why you want to end this marriage. And she was saying it was really difficult because she had nobody to look towards to say, oh, that is what a divorcee who's gone on and had a career resurgence or another marriage or whatever it may be that I want, that I could actually have for my own life. And now we have examples of that everywhere Where we can say, oh, there are women that I know or a Real Housewife or a celebrity that I like.

Mary J Blige, she paid her husband a settlement. And I was like yes, I do not have Mary J Blige money, but I feel you. I was like, I know what this is like.

Kelly Clarkson, Adele. These are very public stories and high profile divorces. And we're able to see, oh, this is not life ending for these people.

And so I think that that is really important. And kind of a lot of the things that we've been talking about. The prevalence of us having these conversations about mental health and having a therapist.

Most of my friends are in therapy. And when people reach out to me and say, I'm thinking about getting divorced, which I do, I always say, you have to get in the therapy. You need somebody to talk to about this, because there is a grieving process.

It is like a death in many ways. And I think because for me personally and lots of friends that I know, there was such a high value placed on marriage that the idea of your marriage ending felt like this is the worst thing that I can do. I'm going to be so embarrassed.

People are going to just think so poorly of me. And I don't want to tell people. And I had some friends where it felt like I couldn't talk to them about my divorce.

It was almost as if they felt like it was contagious. Like I would start talking about it and they were like, I got to go. There are things that you are talking about in your relationship that are bringing up things for me.

And it was a very lonely time. And so I'm so glad that I had my therapist to talk to. And actually one of my best girlfriends also went through divorce at the exact same time.

So we were kind of-- Twins. I know. We really were having these parallel journeys.

We had the same mediator. And I was like, do I get a discount for bringing her? I know.

My mediator was like no. I do not need your help. Lots of people want to get divorced.

You are not helping my business at all. So I definitely think that seeing models of successful women going forward after their divorce has been really important. And that was also just really important for me to be really honest about it and say, yeah, I'm having a hard time, but I'm getting through it, and I'm doing the work to make peace with my choice and build a life for myself that I really want and deserve.

And I'm truly so flattered when people tell me you really helped me get through this challenging time and that's why I've been so committed to talking about it and an honest way. You touched on something I think is really, really valuable, not just in the case of potentially ending a relationship or a marriage, but kind of in everything we do that I think most people, and this is something that I really struggle with even to this day to interrogate in myself and to really separate in myself, and I imagine obviously in the case of your divorce, it was at a scale that most people can't even imagine, but it's something everyone goes through, which is separating your own feelings on something from what you perceive to be others' feelings or what their perception might be of you or the judgments they might make on you. And a lot of the choices that we make in life I feel, or don't make, often have relatively little to do with how we feel about them internally.

And I think about different aspects of my personal and professional life and I think is this something I really want or is this just something that I think other people will be impressed by or validate or think of as normal? Or on the flip side, is this something that I want to do but won't because of how other people perceive it? And obviously, as someone who has been through that at such a large scale of visibility and open to so many people's perceptions of it in a way that goes well beyond your own family and friends, how do you kind of in life frame your decision making about these things for all of your various choices in a way that is very much about centering your own feelings?

And obviously you want to-- your mom probably has some good advice, friends, and everything like that. But making sure that it is ultimately about what's right for you and not for them. Yeah, I mean I got to be honest, that's just been a lifelong challenge and something that I have gotten better at as time has gone on.

But I haven't always been great at that. And I do think there is this pressure to get on I call it the relationship escalator. I'm sure someone else has coined that.

But this idea of, OK, well, you've been dating for a long time. When are you going to move in together? When are you going to get married?

When are you going to have a kid? When are you going to buy a house? And that pressure is coming from everywhere.

I mean, I remember one time getting in an Uber and my Uber driver being like, are you married? Do you have kids? And I was like, sir, JFK, JetBlue.

Why are you asking me these very invasive questions about my reproductive health? I mean, it was truly so invasive. But then you start putting that pressure on yourself because you're like, well, everybody else is doing this and this is what is expected of me.

And so what I've really tried to focus on, and again, therapy has been a huge part of this journey, is at the end of the day, my happiness is what's most important. The people who enjoy my work or follow me on social media, they do not pay my bills. They sure don't.

They do not go to bed at night with me. I'm the only person that is in control of those things. And again, that has taken a lot of time and self reflection and also is a privilege.

I don't have kids. I am self sufficient. I'm very fortunate that I'm able to take care of myself and live the life that I want.

And not everybody is in that position. Maybe you live with your parents or you have children or your finances are tied up in different ways with your partner. And so making choices about your livelihood, it's not just about you.

So again, I realize that I'm very fortunate that I can say you don't pay no bills around here, so I'm going to paint this wall or I'm going to go on this trip or I'm going to wear this flashy thing that I spent too much money on but it makes me feel good. But I have not always been in that place. And I think especially because I do have a career that my audience is a big part of that, redefining my relationship with social media has been really important.

Taking lots of time off. I have my time limits on and I really stick to them. Good for you.

I mean, I have my times where I'm like, OK, 15 more minutes, but I really have pushed myself to stay on top of them. I have parental controls on my computer. I'm really serious.

I'm like, if I don't have a parental control on Seamless, I'm going to order Seamless all the time. And I have a block site where you can put a time limit. So I can say Twitter, five hours.

I can't look at it while I'm working on this project. And it really has made a difference. And not even just for people who have a public profile.

Sometimes just seeing what everybody else is doing puts this undue pressure. Everyone's having fun, everyone's getting married, everyone's booking all these jobs, everyone's going on these trips. And then you start thinking, why am I not doing that?

And I don't believe that we were meant to know what everybody is doing at the same time. We are not meant-- No. It's just completely unnatural.

We're not supposed to be able to talk to hundreds of thousands of people at once. It is truly made it easier to connect with people, which is wonderful. I think social media has also eroded our perspective on what's a big deal and what's not a big deal.

True that. I found myself sometimes thinking, oh my god, 5,000 people retweeted this. But 5,000 people is not a lot of people.

It feels like a lot of people. And especially when everybody on Twitter is talking about something. And one of my best girlfriends is very not online and it's always so eye opening to me when I tell her, oh my God, did you hear about such and such?

And her response is, no, I have no idea what you're talking about. And I have to remember, oh, the average person does not know who everybody's mad at on Twitter or what everybody has decided is uncool this week. Or people were mad at the girl who drank coffee with her husband in a garden or something.

It makes no sense, but it seems like a really big deal. But then when you zoom out and you talk to a regular person on the street, they're like, I have no idea what you're talking about. And it feels so loud.

And I often remind myself that we are really vocal about the things that we don't like, but we're not as vocal about the things that we do like. So it feels really overwhelming when you go on social media and everyone is like, this is bad, and if you do this, you're a terrible person. And you have low morals and you have blah, blah, blah.

But they're not having that same fervor for things that they're excited and they feel empowered and inspired by. So by that same token, you're then using that as a metric for success for yourself. Everybody thinks that it's bad that I have a middle part or whatever it is.

It's like, what are you talking about? You are talking about a very specific group of people. And you're not talking about everyone's reality.

That might be real for some people, but it's not real for everybody. And ultimately, these strangers should not have that much control over your happiness in your life. And again, that has not always been the way that I've approached things.

But over time, I definitely had to say the way that I am navigating my career is not working and I have to change what I'm doing in order to stay happy and make this sustainable for myself. Otherwise I'm just going to fall apart and that's not going to be helpful for myself or any of the people in my family that I love and that care about me. I mean, 100% to all of that.

I have to say it's one of my all time life hacks is having a spouse who is very offline. Because it really is I do think having that grounding force on a day to day basis of what anyone is even aware of is a powerful thing. It always boggles my mind.

And why was I going to say this? That was your case. It's like having two people who are very plugged in a marriage.

I can only imagine, I'm not saying it's universally a negative, but there have to be ways in which it doesn't help to both be so plugged in to the same things. Yeah, I mean and candidly, we weren't both super plugged in. I was super plugged in and I think he tried to be more so in order for us to connect on that.

But I definitely found that there were times where we were not seeing eye to eye. Because I'm like, everyone is talking about this thing and how do you not know about it? And he had a regular job.

He is still a lawyer. And so that means that there's large swaths of time that he was not able to sit on the internet and argue with people or go down the rabbit hole about whatever story was happening. And with my best friend who is very offline, what I often find interesting is if it's a really important story, it'll get to her by a week or two.

So then I'm like, the things that are important, she'll find out about it at some point. But all of the weird one off niche stories, which truly I love, I'm just fascinated by whoever the main character is and what unites us for better or for worse, I just think that stuff's really interesting. It also is a giant time suck.

And I often will look up and realize, oh my God, I have been thinking about somebody else's personal business for way too long and I have things to do. The number of brain cells that I lost thinking about there are two emu girls. One is not problematic, one is racist and was making out with her emu that has avian flu and potentially starting the second COVID.

I was like, how do I have room for this? Ancient man could only handle hunting and gathering. But I can't remember my Netflix password.

And I'm like, why do I know all of this random stuff? These are things that I actually need to know or would be helpful in my day to day. And instead I'm just reading all of the receipts on emu girl or what specific emu girl, because-- There's multiple emu girls.

There's multiple. There's a Stephen King novel called Dreamcatcher where he visualizes the human brain as being a huge sort of archival library. And in order to add new things, you're getting rid of a bunch of other [BLEEP]..

And I'm like, what files did I burn to retain the information about the different emu girls? So that I think I need to step back from from time to time. But it's interesting that you said earlier that your talking about your divorce was really difficult for some of your friends and potentially even alienating.

And I think just kind of as a last note on separating yourself from others thing, this is something that I've been dealing with quite a lot as someone who's become more and more kind of resolute and also open about being childfree. And listen, let's be clear. I'm not about to have a child for other people's expectations.

That is obviously not something I'm going to do. Although I do think some people do do it and I think that's really a terrible outcome. But it has been interesting to see how being firm in that decision-- I think a lot of times in our own relationships and perhaps especially on the internet, making a very strong decision in one way is often kind of taken almost as an indictment of someone else's different choices.

And I think I was a little bit naive about how in some ways alienating it can be to make these strong life choices that others are maybe not familiar with, they're afraid of, maybe they've considered themselves and don't allow themselves to, or maybe can't even-- like people, for example, in my family or my husband's family, it is genuinely not possible for them I think in a lot of ways to conceive of a happy, fulfilled life that doesn't include the same choices they made. And I feel like for a lot of people, it's a very big struggle. And I think we all deal with it to some extent of if someone else can be happy and fulfilled in this totally different choice, what does that mean for my own choices?

And how can I still feel kind of strongly? And I'd love to know like with some of those women for whom it was so difficult, did you ever talk about that with them? Or did that ever lead to any kind of higher awakening on either party's part?

Yeah. I mean, the thing is that we see it all the time. I always use the example of I stopped drinking alcohol.

And it wasn't because I felt like I needed to reassess my relationship with alcohol. I truly was just like, as I'm getting older, this makes me feel crappier. I want to feel better about my body and I want to take my health seriously.

But then there were often times where I would say to someone, oh, I'm not drinking, and they were like, well, is it OK that I drink? Are you OK with this? Oh my God, you think I'm such a lush.

And I'm like, no, you are projecting all of those things. This is truly a personal choice. And so I think kind of to your earlier point, when people make choices about their life that don't align with what you're doing, it sometimes forces us to reassess the choices that we've made and confront if we're actually happy with those choices.

And I think that was what was happening with some of my friends. And I know one in particular, she really made the decision to go into therapy with her husband because of some of the things that I talked about that I was frustrated in my marriage. And she saw those as red flags of like, nope, I don't want to get divorced.

I got to nip this in the bud now. Because unfortunately, what happens, and this is in platonic relationships too, if you don't actually confront a problem, it just gets worse. And then at some point, you're too far down the road to fix the problem.

And so I think to that same token, I had some friends who were clearly uncomfortable. And now that they've got a divorce, they were like, oh my God, that conversation that we had was really eye opening for me and it was making me uncomfortable because this is something I'd been thinking about but I wasn't ready to confront. And oftentimes when you see somebody else living the life that you want or doing the things that you've always dreamed about, I do think that that jealousy or that discomfort is really an opportunity to reflect and say what is this telling me?

So I definitely had two versions of that experience with my friends. But I also think that it strengthened relationships, because it forced me to say to people, hey, I really need you to show up right now. I'm having a really hard time and I need you.

I need somebody to just listen. I don't need advice. I just need someone to hang out with me.

I just need to go out and take my mind off of this thing. And really be transparent about the ways in which my friends and my family could be there for me. And again, I truly wish that I had commission for my therapist, because those are things that she worked on with me.

And even sometimes just roleplaying those conversations so that I would be comfortable when the situations arise. Because inevitably, I'm going to run into somebody who doesn't know that I got a divorce and they're going to ask about my ex. Or one I get a lot is, oh my God, I'm so sorry.

And so I have to be prepared to navigate those things because-- God, I was at a wedding one time and someone was like, oh, you're divorced? And I was like, we're not doing this. We're literally at a wedding.

And so thank goodness I had worked on those great little one liners that I could say. Don't say sorry, say congratulations. It was the right thing to do.

Let's move on. Because inevitably, those things are going to come up. And so I found in that specific instance, it was really helpful for me.

But I use it in other parts of my life too. And you just cannot anticipate when they're going to come up, but at least if I'm prepared, I can navigate them when I encounter it. Well, I think that's a perfect note for us to say goodbye on.

This has just genuinely been such a pleasure, this conversation. And it's so genuinely heartening to see someone who I've known since forever ago in internet days just really be living such a great and fulfilled life. Thank you.

That means a lot. And I truly, I feel the same way about you. It's been so inspiring to watch your brand grow and you expand into all these really important venues.

And I think our conversations around finances, especially for women, are not as transparent as they should be. And so I really commend you for creating a space to have the conversations that you thought we should be having. Oh my gosh.

Well thank you. Yes absolutely. I got to give you your flowers.

Absolutely. We're all just like throwing flowers on the couch. Where can people go to find more of what you do?

So my handle is ChescaLeigh across social media, C-H-E-S-C-A-L-E-I-G-H. I'm also on TikTok, which has been a really fun experiment. But I'm FranchescaLeigh on TikTok.

And yeah, you can find me across social media as ChescaLeigh or on my website, franchesca.net. Amazing. And we will see you back here next Monday for an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

Bye. [MUSIC PLAYING]