Ever since I was younger I’ve had this irrational fear that we would lose it all. My mom is the cheapest woman I know (a trait I inherited), while my dad is very extravagant with his purchases. There was a huge disconnect, and I never really felt secure in how much wealth my family had. On one end there was my mom telling me that I wasn’t allowed to get the kids meal at Mcdonalds; one large fry order and we would all share. On the other end, my dad would take me on shopping sprees at Limited Too quite regularly. What’s the point of working if you can’t enjoy your life he always said.
I never understood why we were so blessed while so many people out there are struggling to make ends meet. Some background information: we owned a cosmetic dental office that did quite well, but when the economy tanked the last thing on anyone’s mind was getting fake pearly whites. Suddenly, I was trapped in my own version of Material Girls. I felt as though the universe was personally attacking me.
Plans that were once exciting began to feel like burdens. It was my own private hell, one where I was constantly being invited to birthday brunches I couldn’t afford. I had to keep this ridiculous facade going. I was finally living my dream of being in a clique novel but on the wrong end. I was Claire, and everyone else was Massie Block. What was once so nonchalant became taxing on my emotions; joint birthday gifts, a cracked iPhone, themed parties I needed outfits for. Cutting everyone off was the only answer that made sense to me. When everyone around you lives in excess it is so embarrassing admitting to weakness. I’m not even a prideful person, but this tested everything in me. So here’s a post on to cope when things aren’t looking too hot for you, but everyone else is still on fire.
A) Get a job. Financial independence will prevent you from feeling trapped. This one wasn’t feasible for me because I was swamped with school but it would’ve made a huge difference.
B) Let your friends know what’s up. If they’re unaware you will be painted as the annoying cheap friend who is always suggesting that we eat at home rather than go out.
C) Learn to say no. Live within your means. Don’t break your back pretending to be someone you’re not. It sucks. Get over it.
D) Don’t run away from your problems. I’m writing this post after a year and a half of contemplation. At the time I dealt with everything terribly. I didn’t want to go home because I wanted to pretend that nothing was going on. I was perfectly okay living in an imaginary bubble at school. I was very insensitive. My mindset was “you had one job to provide for us, and you failed.” Basically, I was a shit human being. This was a lesson I needed to learn in life. Your parents aren’t perfect, and it’s important not to knock people down when they are struggling. I have wonderful parents who would do anything for me, and I just needed to remember that.
E) Don’t let yourself get bitter. This one was the hardest for me considering everyone I know eats cash for breakfast. I had to remind myself that other people’s blessings don’t take away from your own. I found myself getting salty when people would talk about getting new cars, shoes, homes, etc.. but good for them! Be happy for others even when your own life is crashing around you. THEIR BLESSINGS DON’T TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR OWN. Chant it with me!
F) You’ll find yourself in awe watching how much people waste. There were times when I would see people order a $15 salad only to eat a few bites and THROW IT AWAY. It was painful.
G) Social media is a sham. Never forget that. I would post these exciting events on my snapchat, but no one knew that the same event caused me weeks of anxiety prior. I had learned how to fool the world into believing that I was this happy girl living a perfect life.
Things eventually got better, but it was definitely one of the hardest things I had gone through. It tested everything I had once known about life. All in all, I’m glad the experience happened because I now view life very differently. While I still enjoy material items, I appreciate experiences 100x more. As a family, we used to find happiness in trips to the Galleria and fancy restaurants. When all of that stopped we were forced to interact with each other on a more personal level. For me, it really is about the little things; fresh sheets, candles, movie nights. Remember to find happiness in your own home before you begin to search for it out in the world.
Brown people refuse to show any vulnerability. They will smile, brag, and go on with their day as if everything is always fine even though we all know their dad just got arrested or ammi left the family. The facade carries on, and everyone snickers behind closed doors. So here’s my attempt at breaking down minor walls in hopes to stir up some much-needed conversations.