So sorry I’ve been off the grid lately! If you follow me on twitter, or regularly read my blog for that matter, you may have pieced together that it’s been a rough summer for me. I struggled with whether to write about it or not. I struggled with whether I was divulging too much information.
I think in the blog world, there’s sort of this unspoken expectation that everything is sunshine and butterflies, and it can tend to be taboo to write about anything negative (personally, I hate it when people only write about their perfect existence. It pisses me off and makes me feel like I’m failing at life…).
So through the encouragement of a friend, I’ve decided to fill in the blanks of my summer for you and get it off my chest, then I can move forward with unicorns and cupcakes. 😉 Please bear with me, because I’m not sure where this is going to go, or where it’s going to end up!
The biggest insight of my summer involved a (small, superficial) insight into what poverty looks like in America. One of the scariest things we don’t talk about in this country is the frighteningly high number of people living without any sort of financial cushion. We make ugly assumptions about people with smartphones and a certain type of car, yet receiving government assistance (yes, there are moochers. This isn’t about them). What we don’t talk about is how quickly things can go wrong. How one setback snowballs.
I’m in the (arguably) fortunate position that I’m currently living rent-free, and I have people who were able to help me with necessities. But here’s a breakdown of how things can happen: First, some of you know that I was recently determined to be too poor (I’m a full time student) for Obamacare. Which means I’m uninsured.
May started with a fond farewell to my (slippery) pride, when my mom offered to pay for my Disney trip and explained it away as a graduation present (I graduate in a year). I knew things would be tight for awhile until I got my summer financial aid. I had no idea the adventure that was in store…
First, you stop making doctors appointments, because you have to pay cash for them. Next, you drop your vitamins. Shortly after that, your supplements go. You start really analyzing your grocery list. You dig through the makeup and toiletries you didn’t particularly like, but didn’t want to throw away, “just in case.” You use up the reserves on your credit card. The first month isn’t so bad- you think you can just catch up on your bills once your money comes.
Month two is still manageable. You haven’t had to drive too much, so you’ve been able to conserve your gas. You start getting calls from your bills, but they’re easy enough to avoid, and you figure their payment is right around the corner. It’s just a waiting game. Your prescriptions run out, and you can’t get them refilled because you’re paying out of pocket for them. You start to show signs of vitamin deficiencies. You’re feeling grateful that you have an entire reserve of hotel samples of shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner.
You sell something on etsy. The excitement is overpowered by the fact you have to pay the shipping cost and you need groceries. The healthy choices you’ve been making are out the window, replaced by things that will last the longest. Salads, lean proteins, and nuts go by the wayside and are replaced with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You find ways to only eat the “communal” household food instead of your own groceries. You finally have to borrow $20 to put gas in your car, but you’re due to get your money any time.
As month three approaches, you start to panic. All of your bills are now behind, you’re scared to death that your car insurance is going to be cancelled before you can pay it, you have images of your car being repossessed, and you just know your storage unit is going to go up for auction. You field a dozen phone calls a day from bill collectors. You panic when you get stuck in traffic because it’s sucking out your gas. When you need toiletries, you price out sample sizes instead of having to buy full size. You swallow any pride you have left to ask for a loan to buy a few things at the store. Every waking minute you’re worrying about how you’re ever going to get out of this mess- it feels like things will never change.
Finally, you get some money.
I was lucky. I had people to help me, and I paid them back very first thing, but frankly, at 38 years old, it’s humiliating to be in such a tough financial spot. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for people who DON’T have help to turn to. Who are doing fine one day, even if they’re living paycheck to paycheck, and then suddenly one thing goes off track and their whole lives are derailed.
Just try to think about that next time before you judge someone by assumptions you make about them. We never know the journey someone else is on.
For me, it was a serious breakdown in communication about my financial aid. I only got my payout a week ago. Thankfully, I’ve been able to pay some things current, and pay down the other stuff. Honestly though, I was ready to cut and run. I questioned whether I should even go on with my degree. I was just flat out DONE.
You read that right. 1,008. (The class was graded on a 1000 point scale). You should have seen my niece’s face when I told her I got a 1008 in the class. She looked at me like I was telling her that unicorns fly Santa’s sleigh…
I’m very proud of myself, probably more so this summer than any other semester, just simply because of the battle it felt like I was fighting; and I feel compelled to repeat my Abbyism: “Just because I make it look easy, doesn’t mean it is!” Workin’ my tailfeathers off here, people!
Between school stress, SERIOUS family stress (that I’ll not go into out of respect for my family), and financial woes, I let my workouts slack. As in, I dropped them. I’ve been so exhausted from the work and stress that I just flat out haven’t felt like putting out the exertion for it. Which stinks, because it probably would have been a good stress relief. I somehow dropped about 5 pounds, but I think that can probably be attributed to muscle atrophy…
Which also leads to my next summer problem. You may recall that I put forth a list of must-dos for my summer break. Well, suffice it to say I accomplished NOTHING on my list. 😦
My major takeaway message from my summer? I shouldn’t have come back from my Disney vacation. Everything went downhill after I got back from Florida!
And since I’m never one to shy away from corniness, I can honestly say that the bright spot of my summer was my friends and online community. It brings me so much happiness to be able to cheer on my community when good things are happening (and some of you have some very, very exciting things happening- SQEEEEE!!!!).
Y’all keep me sane and help me find my optimism. After all, I SURVIVED! I lived to tell the tale.
Now to remember how to breathe…
Next up: FALL ADVENTURES!
**DISCLAIMER: I fully admit that I shamelessly and recklessly used Harry Potterisms in this post, despite the fact that I am not a Harry Potter fan. What can I say, I’m a fan of mischief and mayhem…