debt owed: facing debt

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today in my mailbox I got a little gift--the total loan amount I owe, for these past four years in school.

These numbers are all abstract, but they have been carried on my shoulders for a long time. Now I feel like they're finally sinking into me and rising up to the surface, and I am actually looking at them.

I've been thinking about what it means to be an adult. And obviously it doesn't mean turning 18, or 21, or 25, or 30. And maybe it doesn't even mean being able to pay the rent on time, and buy the groceries. I'm sure my definition of adulthood will change and shift with every passing year. For now, at this cusp of my life, at 21, I have a few ideas.

Maybe adulthood means being able to face your problems head on. Maybe it means understanding why you make the mistakes you make, and wanting to fix them. Maybe it means, understanding where you come from and how that's affected you, and learning to overcome the things holding you back. Maybe it means living the life you want to live, and not living scared, and not putting your heart in a jar.

Let me tell you--I have been very guarded with my heart and dreams. I'm not quite sure where it comes from. Just somehow being financially afloat was always something I was striving towards, and always feeling unable to get to. My mom and dad didn't ever say that I couldn't be who I wanted. There was never that. In fact, I'm sure they told me I could do whatever I wanted. But words aren't the only things influencing you when you're growing, and maybe their actions spoke louder.

Money was always a big thing when I was growing up. We didn't have much, but we had a lot more than some. I think what was said to me, in words, was that money wasn't important, that happiness was. But what was taught to me, in actions, was that money bought happiness. That money bought treats. That we should treat ourselves, that that was a happiness. This is something I see in me today. It is slightly shameful, but still, true.

Anyways, the result is that money has always been something I worried about. And dreams, they ignore money. Truly I have not even let myself build up dreams because I always assumed they would be unattainable, financially.

This is a hard statement to come to terms with. I haven't let myself build dreams. I haven't let myself dream. I talk down to myself in my head. I am pessimistic. I assume I won't be able to stay afloat.

This is not the way to think. This is not the way to think to be successful. This is not the way to think to  live the life I want to live.

So I want to face this head on. I want to fight anxiety with determination. I want to accept the panic that will inevitably wash over me. And let it do just that--wash over me. But to never let it sink into me. I want to learn to let go of my fear. I don't have a plan. I don't know what I'm going to do. I have a long way to go. To learn how to dream, how to not scoff at my own dreams, how to plan, how to take action.


*This post was written many months ago, when I was still in the midst of thesis and didn't have the time or energy to commit to a series about something so large and daunting. I have waited patiently until the right time to post it, the right time to begin this journey. And I've been avoiding it. Because positing this means that I'm facing it. So, read this and understand that I wrote this a while ago and while reading it fortifies me in some way, I still have many posts to go that will be filled with doubt and anxiety. This series is not a perfect view of how to deal with your student loans. It's my documentation of my own experience with it. 

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