Why a thirty-something who was set for life decided to give it all up and start from scratch.
There’s the Ivanka Trumps and Jared Kushners of the world, and then there’s me. I was 30-something years old, the child of hardworking Russian immigrants. I had a very clear path laid out for me: Go into the family jewelry business and be set for life in Beverly Hills. Instead, I chose to walk away from it, leaving me broke and waiting tables to make ends meet while friends bought houses with pools.
Here’s how it all played out, and why if I had the choice to do it all over again, I’d make the same decision.
In 2013, I was living in New York, working the late night shift and grabbing temp work whenever I could find it. It was barely enough cash to buy a sandwich in the East Village, much less live or function in a relationship. By the time my ex-girlfriend dumped me, she was paying the whole rent, and I was so ashamed that I left NYC, and shacked up at my father’s place in Beverly Hills to escape the embarrassment. I left all of my belongings in New York, and was living in my father’s old Fila wardrobe, tracksuits and tennis shoes, sinking deeper into financial debt, and depression. At that moment, the lowest point of my life, I was offered work in the family business. It was a decent job managing jewelry stores, work that would’ve paid well, and gotten me back on my feet financially. But to do it would also require all of my attention, and that meant not being able to develop my writing.
(XIV Karats in Beverly Hills sold jewelry that my family manufactured)
Financially, it would’ve been a silver bullet, something to put me back on the right track, as my father said, yet somewhere deep down inside, the poet in me was rebelling. No matter how much I tried to make it work, I simply could not manage the work while also concentrating on my artistic pursuits. I tried to explain that to my father, but the longer we talked the more strained the conversation became. Finally, I was given an ultimatum: Take the job or get nothing.
Ultimately, it was my desire to live the life I wanted that pushed me to take nothing. As soon as I made the decision I knew I was on my own. I could never ask anyone in my family for another penny. I would continue to develop my writing, but now without a dollar to my name, no job prospects, and zero skills in the job market. I would have to figure out how to live in the real world on my own. I was 33-years-old and I had just officially cut myself off. I took a suitcase of Fila clothes with me, and started living without help for the very first time in my life. The struggle has been a real bitch at times, but nothing in comparison to the the overwhelming pride I feel for choosing a path in line with who I am as a human being. Sometimes there’s pride in going broke.
Tune in next week to find out how Allen brought his riches to rags story to the small screen.
Allen E. Landver is the creator and star of Broke A$$ Rich Kid, a comedic web series based on his own riches to rags story in Beverly Hills. Broke A$$ Rich Kid is premiering at the New Media Film Festival on June 17. For updates on the series’ launch, follow @brokeassrichkid on Instagram or subscribe to the newsletter.