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Sunday, April 4, 2010

surviving capitalism

I used to feel like I had no money, when I was a teenager. When I started high school, I was still on about $4/week allowance; by the time I finished, I was on $10/week (besides the $20-something I earned shelving books at the local library). I went to a state-integrated school, which is basically a private school though not the ridiculously expensive type, and a lot of my friends were on a much bigger allowance.

When I started university, I was lucky enough to receive the student allowance - free money given by the New Zealand state to students whose parents didn't earn over a certain threshold - and I got a job tutoring English. Riches inconceivable!

When I went flatting (= living away from home, sharing the rent of a house with other students) last year, I was lucky enough to have, besides the student allowance, a couple of scholarships that kept me fairly well-off for a student. I mean, flip, I could afford a two-month visit to England. It's not normal, right?

Suddenly, my scholarships stopped, only the student allowance remained, and I felt the pinch.

Then, even more suddenly, my student allowance stopped, without warning.

(Don't worry, I will get it back, but it's going to take several weeks.)

This is the first time in my life that I have really felt what it's like to not have enough money, with no prospect of some cash influx in the near future that will solve all my problems. It's only been a couple of months, but I'm starting to get a glimpse of life without money. And it's not pretty.

I don't think I've ever been one of those ghastly people who, in a position of comfort themselves, idealize the poor, but I've never thought that money should define a person's life in the way it's defining me now. For the last five years of university study I've always found those students who can't wait to leave uni and go get a job very weird; I love studying, and for the last year I've said, perfectly seriously, that I am dreading having to go get a job because anything else, after self-motivated research, will be boring boring boring.

Now, I am looking forward to that glorious country, not very far off in the future, just out of reach, in which I will earn money. In which the constant anxiety I am living with right now just dissipates.

In the meantime, I will try to imprint the lesson I am learning into my brain. Which is, don't scoff money away. Don't imagine that without it you have the same opportunities/peace of mind/lack of distraction as you have with it.

In the meantime, I am trying to use opportunities like I had this morning - watching the sun rise on Easter Sunday. It was with friends, it was beautiful, it was strangely exhilarating getting up at 5.30 in the morning, and it was FREE!!!

1 comment:

Stacy said...

I hope your financial situation resolves. Being short on cash is waayyy more stressful than you ever think it'll be.