Yesterday I received the upcoming term’s financial statement from my university. Because I’m a very nervous human being and sometimes would rather just remain in oblivion, I never, ever want to look at anything with any sort of numbers or dollar signs on it, not even my bank account statement after I’ve made a deposit. Just keep that stuff away from me.
I open my financial statement, and my eyes shoot straight to the line “TOTAL DUE.” I try to veer my gaze away from it, try to read through all the tedious details of technology fees, transportation fees, health fees, maintenance fees, living and breathing fees, etc., as though I can un-see what I have already seen, or put off the reality that my university now expects me to pay them significantly more than I have been. And that I can’t afford to.
My first reaction is to panic. “I’M GOING TO HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN EATING AND GRADUATING!!” It doesn’t help that my major requires the purchase of expensive model-building materials and includes course fees that could pay for three months’ worth of food. It also doesn’t help that my mental state is already fragile from listening to too much Bon Iver.
After indulging in my panic spree, my practical self takes over and starts emailing in a frenzy, comparing past financial statements, systematically checking through any and all records of payments. Somewhere in the midst of all this, I decide I’ll start selling blood plasma to make extra cash. A friend tells me that if we do it regularly, we can make up to three hundred dollars a month.
I realize that I’m not broke broke. As in, I’m not starving or living on the street or having to drop out of school. I can still afford to have a place to live and to pay for my cell phone bill and even to feed my terrible, unjustifiably ravenous closet. But I’m still, unfortunately, dependent on my parents, and this fills me with guilt. They spent an enormous part of their lives raising me, which I can guarantee was far from easy, and they shouldn’t have to support my broke, self-indulging ass anymore.
Maybe if I stopped complaining about being broke-but-not-really and then feeling guilty about doing so, I might be able to find a job.
In the end, I think we’re all sort of broke, in one way or another. We get used to living a certain way, with a certain level of comfort, and as soon as we don’t have the means to sustain that lifestyle anymore, we feel as though we’re up the creek without a paddle. Some of us may be monetarily broke, having to borrow money from our parents to get through the month. Others of us may be emotionally broke, having given all we can give and receiving nothing in return. We’re all trying to make the metaphorical ends meet.
The thing about being broke, though, about always running on almost-empty, is that it keeps us sharp. It keeps us, in some ways, in touch with the harsher realities of life; it somewhat prepares us for, God forbid, being actually broke. And it gives us something to complain about, because otherwise our lives are pretty much golden.