Dear Student Debt,
At the time, I thought you were inevitable. You said all the right things. You whispered “degree, financial stability, education…” in my ears. I thought that only through you would I be shown the path to success. In the end, you did give me some of the things you promised. You gave me a degree. You gave me an education. But you didn’t hold up on your financial promises.
Public school told me you have to go to college to get a good job. My grades showed that I was a promising candidate for college. I was seduced by A’s and outstanding remarks. I looked for guidance… “study what you love and never work a day in your life,” they told me. No one mentioned you, student loan debt. No one talked about what you would do to me.
I thought at 23 I would have it all figured it out. I pictured myself driving a shiny fuel efficient Subaru Forester, living in a house with high ceilings and big windows, spouting off the poetry I learned in school, and buying organic avocados. Instead I work full time at odd hours during the week, and for minimum wage on weekends to try to cover expenses. I drown in the debt.
Groceries and gas seem like luxuries now. Student debt, when I found out I needed serious dental work done, it was you who I cursed. I found my niche in the world, in public libraries, but my niche isn’t hiring. I’m just another millennial with another case of “woe is me,” as my elders see it. What they can’t see is the budgets I scribble on the back of post-it notes. How I bite at my nails during my commute to work praying to a God I don’t even believe in that I get a raise, I win the lottery, I get hit by a semi-truck, and my student debt is absolved.
I hope I never get sick, because I can’t afford to be sick. I can’t even afford life when I am not sick. I do not regret my degree. I regret the choices I made finically while receiving my degree. The financial advisors don’t mention that when you graduate, a secure and fiscally ample career may not be waiting for you.
One day, a while ago, a liberal arts degree could lead success. I’m finding now, as I talk to my other liberal-arts millennial friends that a liberal arts degree can be beneficial if you are in the right place at the right time. 2016 is the wrong time, and I feel as if I am in all the wrong places. A degree means crippling debt. A degree looks like climbing into quicksand. Don’t get sick. Don’t go out. I am a slave to my student debt. This year, next year, and 100 years to follow.