I’ve been trying to force a narrative of struggle and hardship into my life when the reality is I’m extremely privileged.
As stupid as it sounds, in the past year, I chose to not move back home and I didn’t allow my parents to pay off my student loans or car insurance because “I can pay it off on my own.”
People actually have to live through things like having no roof over their heads and not knowing where their next meal will come from because they have no other choice. Yet there I was. A 22 year old from a middle class family who graduated from a prestigious university and has a job (actually, two now) trying to force such struggle into my life.
Pride was the biggest factor in my reasoning, but I instead accredited my attitude to being about “developing persistence” and “building character.”
I just wanted a story to tell. “I was homeless. I had loans to pay. I didn’t have a job. I couldn’t afford to eat. But I got out of it fine.”
I felt entitled to an underdog story. One about survival and conflict and, eventually, overcoming adversity.
I’ve moved home since then. The other day my dad told me, for the second time in the last five months, to print out a statement of my student loans for him. I asked why. “So I can pay it off for you,” he responded.
“No, I don’t want your money. I can do it on my own.” That’s what I would’ve naively said a few months ago.
I refrained from responding this time around. I walked to my room in silence, sat down, and really considered why I felt the need to “do it on my own.”
The answer was simple: I wanted to prove to myself that I actually could do it on my own. That I can take care of myself. That I don’t need anyone’s help–not even my parents.
I realized that in trying to prove that I was fully capable of taking care of myself, I was placing unnecessary stress on myself and my parents.
Instead of letting myself focus on what I want to make of myself, I would have to also worry about paying off loans and fees. There was no good reason for me or my parents to have to worry about loans.
If I got rid of those worries, I would be able to put my full efforts into saving up money.
If I got rid of those worries, I would be able to focus on advancing my career.
If I got rid of those worries, I would be able to focus on helping to improve the world.
I printed out my statements and gave them to my dad. He’s going to pay off my loans.
Instead of creating a narrative that I wanted to have, I will now be able to focus on the narrative I’m suppose to have: a life focused on working to improve the lives of others.