Student loans make me feel guilty.
I have taken out enough to pay for two years of grad school and fund my move across the country. And some extra for living expenses. Like books, food … occasional drinks, those especially fine-tipped ink pens I’m convinced make me write better, the constant flow of canned horse innards for a cat I took in from the street, about ten gallons of hair dye, and, oh yeah, the car I needed so I could drive to my unpaid internship.
So I don’t completely depend on my student loans, I’ve done a lot of odd jobs. I was a secretary for a while, I recorded books on tape for a law professor, did research for a music education administrator, copy-edited a 500 page Psychology thesis. I made dumb little videos for a new app, learned to make balloon animals, and on free weekends, I dress up as different cartoon characters and entertain screaming children at their birthday parties.
But the guilt is still there.
Because I know that Future Me is going to struggle. Future Me is going to be pretty pissed, actually, when she recalls that time I spent $40 at CVS in a futile attempt to find a “cheap” foundation that sort of matches my skin color. And all the times I ordered from the food truck for lunch. And the desert of litter — at least $10 each time I dragged the giant container from Ralph’s. Present Me is living a fantastic life. I get to drive home from my incredible internship to write for the best graduate program in the world while my cat licks my elbow and waits impatiently for me to make us both food that comes from my fridge that I keep fairly well stocked. What will Future Me do when she gets the bill?
And while it feels like I am currently living My Dream out here, will the sea of student loans affect how I pursue my dreams in the future? Working for free will obviously make less and less sense. Will my career hit a huge speed bump? Will I have to sell one of my kidneys so I have gas money?
Will I be able to have a family? Even my mini-family of me and cat is more expensive than a family of just me, myself, and I. How can I expect someone to shack up with me for eternity when half of that time will be spent paying back loans? Marrying me would be like agreeing to donate thousands of dollars to “the arts,” a term so general that it can apply to abstract chalk drawings on the street, “dancers” jumping around to the sound of glass breaking, or “poets” whispering into a mic about placentas at open mic nights. That’s me, that’s the group I chose to be roped into when I decided to pursue a creative career. If I find someone I want to marry, I can’t promise that my endeavors will be un-stupid or even profitable. I want to be able to contribute! I wish I could at least promise him some livestock. A sheep. Some goats. Twelve sons. But I pretty much have the opposite of a dowry.
I know, I know, wah wah wah. Me me me. The only reason I am sharing is because I am not the only one with this problem! Not even by a long shot. I love that people can go to grad school and move 3,000 miles away from home and buy special ink pens in the name of pursuing their dreams. I love it. But I’m scared of it, too.
What do you think when you think about loans? Seriously, share in a comment or tweet at me because I’d be glad to know I’m not alone in this. In the meantime, keep chasing those dreams. We can all live in a cardboard shanty town … together!