* There will be some venting and foul language in this post.
So, my beautiful new town has a flaw. I suppose I should have expected it since this is a college town where most people my age are in school and building a future for themselves. Still, I don’t understand the preoccupation with money and the road to riches. I don’t want to be “poor” or whatever for the rest of my life. I’m not someone who could be content without money or living paycheck to paycheck. That is just what my life is right now. It doesn’t mean I have no aspirations or goals for my future. I have more than I know what to do with. I just know my abilities and I know what I can manage at this stage of my life.
I see nothing wrong with working in housekeeping at the hotel, painting on the side and trying to sell my artwork, and not having a car. I now live in a place where I don’t need a car. I can ride my bike, walk or take the bus where I need to go. I have my best friend/roommate to drive me elsewhere if need be. I will enroll in the community college when the time is right. Yes, community college. I bet that will be another thing I get judged for.
I am managing my finances just fine. I keep a little extra in case I need anything. I have a bit set aside that I can dip in to and pay back later. I’m not worried about money, and even if I am technically “poor” I am not going to worry about money. April (my roommate) and I have each others’ backs in case one of us falls short in something. I’ve got my rent for the next three months covered. I won’t make much money at work, but my bills are covered for the next few months to give me time to settle into work and make money. I may not have extra cash lying around, but I made sure I moved here with enough to pay the bills and feed the cats. I’m perfectly confident in my ability to take care of myself. I saved every penny before moving- simple pet-sitting or babysitting jobs. I saved all year just to have that safety net for when I moved here. It’s not that much, but it’s there now if I need it. I have a little extra cash for occasional outings. I don’t ask people to pay for what I need or want. If someone offers, I’ll accept and cover them the next time. April and I always take turns when we go out.
I have never in my life called myself poor. I’ve been on food stamps, eaten at soup kitchens and received food from charities and food banks. Yet it never once occurred to me that I was actually poor. I’ve never taken anything from anyone that I didn’t need, and I have felt guilty when I have had to get food from charities. I have a list of everyone who has helped me because as soon as I can afford it I am going to make donations to them. There have been a lot of wonderful people and organizations who have helped me and people I know, so I will pay them back someday so they may continue helping people. I don’t know why I’ve never considered myself poor. I guess it’s because I know what the poorest of poor really is and I have always had a roof over my head and someone, somewhere, to help me out.
In my old town, everyone is “poor.” Maybe that’s why they didn’t judge me for not having money. I don’t know. This is just a bit of a shock to me. I didn’t realize I would be judged for not having a car, working a “poor” job or whatever. Especially since it was fully my choice not to have a car. I don’t like driving much, I don’t see the need for a car here, and since I don’t really want a car, I see no reason to take on the costs of owning one.
My mother looks poor, acts poor and announces to the world that she is poor. I am the opposite. I don’t care where I get my clothes from, but they are always nice clothes. I dress for the life I want to have, not the one I do have. I spend a little extra on makeup and hair-care when I can, and I always look nice. No one ever knew that I crawled out of the shitty trailer in the woods. I never looked like I belonged there. I didn’t tell people that I couldn’t afford the same things they could. I didn’t get jealous and make people feel bad when they splurged on something they wanted but didn’t really need. I didn’t bitch and groan about not having money. I knew people who did all those things and I refused to be one of them. Sure, I’d pick up a coin on the sidewalk to stick in my pocket, but I’d pick up trash to throw away, too. I have seen my mother dive in front of moving vehicles to grab a nickel in a parking lot. I am not that damn poor! That is just embarrassing.
I don’t look or act poor, but I am not going to be ashamed about where I work or the fact that I don’t have a car. I truly cannot believe that I am being judged by these aspects of my life. My finances do not make me who I am. They never have. Someday I will have money and I won’t struggle for anything, but right now I am just starting out. I moved here to make a better life for myself and I am doing just that. Everyone has to start somewhere; this is where I’m starting.
I guess I will only have “poor” friends here if everyone else is going to judge me by my income. My best friend, April, my neighbor, Jessica, and my coworkers, Michelle and Cathy- they are good people. They have varied incomes and I have no clue what “class” they are, no do I care in the least. They will be my friends, and anyone else who isn’t going to judge me.
I apologize for the anger and foul language of this post. I am truly blown away by how many people think a person’s income determines their worth here. It makes me angry. I’ve never encountered so much judgement all at once on this aspect of my life. I love this town, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s flawed and I’ll have to learn how to deal with it. No worries, though, I’m still thrilled to be here and my life is still as wonderful as ever. I just needed to vent a little bit after all the judgement lately. People must think “poorness” is contagious.