If you’ve accumulated a decent amount of wealth in life, you’ve probably run across the idea of “stealth wealth”.
It’s exactly what it sounds like.
This is a concept that advocates being covert about your wealth. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it promotes falsehood, but actively avoiding being too direct or open about your financial state is certainly encouraged.
The reasoning for this is quite simple.
People around you won’t understand you, or your money will change how they view you. This could create unforeseen problems. And so it’s better to avoid these potential headaches by purposely being secretive about your money.
Money is a big part of life. It ends up influencing our opportunities, outcomes, experiences, and societal standing. As such, how much money you have (or don’t have) will have a lot to say about your identity and how people view you.
I can see why those with a certain financial position would choose stealth wealth. It’s easier than the alternative.
However, I’ve never chosen the easy way out. And I never liked the idea of stealth.
I’ll tell you why…
I Want Real Relationships
Honesty is the best policy.
I would much rather know exactly who is with me and who is not.
The real me. Not a pretend me.
I want real relationships.
Playing games and hiding behind a wall so that I can placate other people’s delicate feelings about whatever inferiority complex or envy they might develop as a result of their comparisons to me, is not a very good way to go about building and maintaining healthy and true relationships.
If I have to pretend to be something I’m not in order to be in good standing with others, these relationships aren’t worth having. They’re not based on reality. They’re not real.
If someone likes me for something I’m not, they don’t really like me at all. They like someone else. And it’s not real.
I’ve Lost Relationships Over This
I’m not just talking the talk. I walk the walk on this one.
I lost a good chunk of my family over my refusal to be stealthy about who I really am.
This goes back to the summer of 2014. My two younger sisters, upon fully realizing my financial position in life, started to act differently toward me.
They built up unrealistic expectations about me. Inexplicably, they thought it was fair that I start helping them in a financial capacity, all while simultaneously taking digs at my success and outwardly expressing resentment.
They were young, able adults. But the unwise choices they made in life led them to being in a poor financial position.
This was a perfect opportunity for me to teach them, or so I thought.
I once was in their same exact spot. I, too, made terrible financial choices in my youth and found myself deeply in debt and living in my parents’ basement in my late 20s. They were obviously completely aware of this, as they were present for it.
And so I saw myself as a potential mentor.
However, they didn’t see it that way at all. They saw me as a bank.
Now, I could have gone all stealth wealth on them. Could have flew in like a Stealth B-52 with my money and camouflaged the entire thing. It would have been way easier. And I might even still have my sisters in my life today.
But would that be better? Would I be happier knowing that the only way these people would still be in my life is because they didn’t know who I really was? Is a relationship built on a lie better than no relationship at all?
No. Nope. Negative.
I’m glad this happened. I was truthful about who I really was. And they showed me who they really are. We laid our cards on the table.
As adults, we then had to make choices about whether or not we accept each other based on the reality of the situation.
I decided that I would go on to be happier and more successful without people like this in my life. Here we are five years later. And I’m definitely happier and more successful than I was five years ago.
Put simply, I prefer authentic relationships over fake relationships. Even if that means less relationships.
Money ends up accounting for a great deal of our identity. Particularly in the West, which is one of the reasons I don’t enjoy living in America anymore.
People put you in a box. They immediately judge you based on the size of your paycheck, the brand of car you drive, the area of the city you live in, etc. It’s human nature.
But money isn’t the only aspect of our identity.
People judge us based on our weight, the clothes we wear, our hairstyle, the attractiveness of our partner, our vocabulary, our sexuality, etc.
If stealth wealth is put forth as a possible solution to keeping relationships, it stands to reason that one should just be stealthy about everything else.
Why not hide who you really are across your entire life?
For example, I spend a great deal of time and energy staying fit. I live the kind of lifestyle that promotes physical fitness just as much as it promotes financial fitness. I’m just as interested in and proud of my physical self as I am my financial self. Indeed, I see the two as inextricably linked.
Should I hide my body, too? What about “stealth health”? Should I actively try to avoid making other people upset or envious about my physical success?
I don’t think so!
In my view, that’s a defeatist attitude that caves in to a crab mentality. It’s like pretending you’re still in the bucket with the rest of the crabs so that they continue to like you.
I’m not a crab. If others reveal themselves to be crabs, I simply move on and find non-shellfish lifeforms with which to form adult relationships. Life is too short to pretend. We have to grow up.
Don’t Be Boastful
All this said, I’m not advocating boastfulness.
There’s nothing admirable about throwing success of any kind in others’ faces.
Just as much as I believe not actively hiding who I really am, I believe in not actively forcing my views or success on anyone.
If someone approaches me at the gym, compliments me on my workout, and asks me for tips, I’m all too happy to share a few pointers.
But I’m not going to dress in a big sweater to cover up who I really am, nor will I go in there and start flexing in front of everyone.
Likewise, I don’t go out of my way to flash my money. I reside in a minimalist apartment, don’t own a car, and live a very modest lifestyle.
However, I won’t ever shy away from discussing who I really am, how hard I worked to get here, how proud I am of what I’ve accomplished, and how best to achieve a certain degree of financial success and freedom in life.
I don’t believe in stealth wealth any more than I believe in stealth health or stealth anything else in life.
If you have to be stealthy and hide who you really are, you’re not spending time with the right people. If they’re going to be envious of you and try to bring you down because of your success relative to them, I think the best approach to that is getting in that Stealth B-52 and flying out of there. There’s no reason to be around people like that.
Honesty is the best relationship test. Showing your true colors allows others to show their true colors. Then you can both be adults and make go-forward decisions about that relationship. People seem too afraid of being authentic, in fear of confrontation or headaches. Nobody wants to man up and be real. It’s a shame.
I feel great about my life and the relationships in it because they’re based on mutual respect and understanding. They’re based on reality. I’ve never hidden myself. Thus, I know they love me for who I really am. I’d much rather have these few, authentic relationships than more, fake relationships.
What do you think? Do you believe in “stealth wealth”? Believe in hiding who you really are in any other aspect of your life? Or do you prefer honesty?
Thanks for reading.
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