(Guest Post by LB of the Financial Black Sheep blog)
I love the idea of choosing your own life, your own rules. To live life intentionally the way it is meant to be lived. I choose to take back my life, to regain the passion for living, and to live intentionally and not systematically like the way others feel I need to live.
Homelessness and Self-Worth
Back when the recession hit, I had to quit school. It was not my choice, but a choice to keep the roof over my head or end up homeless. It was only 4 years ago. I barely had a part-time job delivering newspapers for $300 a month (without taxes or gas), as both my husband and I lost our full-time jobs.
I had bills upon bills. I cut all non-essentials and some essentials. We were living in the dark, quite literally; I taped down the light switches to make sure we did not spend a cent on electricity. I turned the heat down to 55 degrees in the middle of winter. I wore layers upon layers of clothes just to stay warm. I had no savings, no retirement, nothing in checking except barely enough to cover our home, but I was not considered poor enough to receive anything, but an emergency food box from a local food bank. We needed money fast and school was the farthest thing from my mind. Each impending day led to feelings of failure and dread, with no money and no school I felt like I had no future. I felt worthless, poor, and strangely alone.
That was the first time I completely felt like a lost adult. With no parents to help out, no one to hold my hand and my husband feeling as worthless and I, it was the first time in my life I had lost all hope.
A Ray of Hope
That aptly named emergency box lasted through an entire month and became a huge uplifting ray of hope. It was the stability I needed to move on. It was the hope that someone cared about me, and the hope that I was going to make it out the other end stronger and more confident. Eventually, I was able to buy food again, have regular income and I was even able to pick up health insurance.
(If you, or someone you know, needs help with food, here’s a good site to locate a local food bank in your area: FeedingAmerica.org)
Eventually I was able to climb out of misery; I took a full-time job as an assistant, which quickly led into a management position. I was paid $10 an hour, but it felt like I had won the lottery. I cried every day on the way to work at that job, thankful I even had it — no matter the pay. I kept my newspaper job in order to push out of debt. I only slept 3-4 hours a night, with two jobs, but I would have given up more if I could.
These memories are forever with me, and make me who I am today. I try to use them to learn from my past, to help others. I try not to let those memories take over my reasons for doing things, but they are truly horrible and are stuck in my deep conscious.
Misery Starting to Take Control Again…
These memories once again have seeped up from the deep recently, and I started feeling less confident again. These memories then became the reasons behind every decision.
Even though today I am comfortable, have a retirement fund, savings and a fully paid off home, the memories drive me to let every new job offer, every excuse, and everything get in the way of focusing on school. I have doubts about which major I should finish, which classes I should take and where I should attend classes, and whether or not I should have a job while in school or just an internship. I have doubts about my resume, my grades, my blog, or just being too much of myself.
It is hard to drop such piercing memories and doubts. I was allowing these doubts, memories, misery and hardship to seep into my daily life and take over my decisions — until today.
I am the Best “Me” I can Be
I am done letting all doubts, all the worries, wonder, and memories run my life. I am done letting my life run without me driving. I am done letting others tell me how to go to school, how to be, how to be more like the herd and where to put my money. I am done letting others tell me I need more jobs, more internships, more friends, more followers, more everything.
Instead, I chose to allow myself to focus on school and be the best “me” I can be.
Want to join me?
LB is currently a 4.0 student working towards a dual bachelor’s and master’s degree in business management. She writes about her struggles utilizing a $50,000 income to pay for school, give back to the community, and find time to live life while staying out of debt. Check out more at The Financial Black Sheep.
[Photo by Yashna M]