So I received a letter this week stating that my federal loan payments were in default and that action would be taken should I choose not to pay the amount defaulted in full by the given date. Just to clarify I have five types of loans, three of which are paid on time and in full every month. The other two amount to more than four hundred dollars a month, which I in no way can afford at the moment while I’m paying the other three. Deferment is also not an option because I do not meet the financial hardship criterion. When I initially looked at the letter I laughed; not because I think this situation is a joke, but rather because laughing is better than crying and crying doesn’t seem like it’ll do any good.
I’ve always been the responsible one in my family; the one who worked two jobs to stay afloat while in college and paid every single bill on time in full. I never floundered and never faltered. I knew what my responsibilities were and I made sure to do what needed to be done in order to fulfill my obligations to myself and to others.
When my college years came to a close, however, and the “real world” took me by storm, it brought with it the crushing reality of what it means to be an adult in today’s world. It wasn’t that I was poorly prepared; I grew up with very little and I knew how to stretch a dollar. I knew how to be careful with my money and how to work for everything that I had. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was that I, like so many of you, wasn’t prepared for the reality that jobs are few and far between in a world where money is the cornerstone of our society; a society devoid of compassion and understanding and rife with greed and misplaced ambition.
Money has become the driving force in this world and continues to be an instrument used to separate and divide us. In the nearly two years that I have been out of college I have come face to face with the fact that anyone who doesn’t find a high paying job immediately out of college is more or less financially screwed. The system that we have in place is designed to create failure among those who take part in it.
We spend four years of our lives learning and growing as individuals, hoping to develop skills that will help us become successful in the careers we choose only to discover that when we leave school a hefty chunk of us can’t even find work in our given fields. So we decide to settle for less; we take on jobs that offer forty hours a week, keep a roof over our heads, and food on the table. We settle for jobs that skirt just above the poverty line; jobs that hardly reflect our talents and in no way could pay all of our bills – not just the basic ones we have that come with being an adult, but the ones we accrued from four years of college as well.
We move home to cut down on expenses, but find that it’s still not enough. We take on side jobs for the tips to find that those tips are few and far between these days, making it hardly worth the exhaustion and effort. We find ourselves on a sinking ship, taking on water little by little until we are fully submerged and in the ocean of default. We find ourselves suffocating as the water takes hold. We want it to end quickly, but it doesn’t; it drags on and on as if it’ll never end.
This is the world we live in. We do everything we can and it’s simply not enough. We make sacrifices, compromises, and decisions that only lead to more disappointment and frustration. Instead of enjoying our youth we’re muddled with resentment, fear, and sadness, just simply trying to make ends meet and pay off the four years that we spent finding ourselves.
Some people would say that the struggle builds character and it is important in developing who we are. My response: f*** your character building life exercises. I built enough character growing up when my family struggled to survive; when we skipped holidays and birthdays because we couldn’t afford them; when we couldn’t pay for fieldtrips at school or had to ask for help just to be able to pay for my advanced placement tests. That was my reality. And now this? I’m forced to deal with tarnished credit, piles of bills, and no way out? This is what I went to school for? This is what I spent four years of my life on?
It’s natural for any human being to want to find fault with someone or something; to have a place to lay blame when things aren’t going right. I can honestly say that it is very rare for me to find blame outside of myself. Even when things aren’t my fault I seem to find fault within myself anyway. When I stop to think about the system that is in place, however, and the overwhelming number of people I have come across who are struggling as much as I am, I find it hard to find fault within myself on this matter. I find it difficult not to say that we’re not the problem; the system is the problem. It is geared toward the financially affluent and those who have the necessary connections to find work with little effort. It is a system that reflects many of the things that are wrong with today’s world.
We spend so much time developing ourselves in college only to find that our skills are tossed aside for something less in order to stay afloat. We find ourselves on that sinking ship wondering where the hell it all went wrong and often blaming ourselves: we’re not smart enough, we’re not good enough, or we didn’t try hard enough. Bullshit. A great number of us have tried harder than most people should ever have to. The fact is that it all comes down to money and the system that is built upon the backs of those who don’t have any, but want more out of life. It’s sad and unnerving to realize that life after college is hardly what we expect it to be.
On that note I think I’ll leave things where they are before I stray too far and this becomes an entirely different rant.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry
Oh And Happy 100th Post To Me!!!