November 2, 2017

I'm Blackface Broke Right Now

I'm not sure if it is completely appropriate to use the term 'blackface broke' as it could easily be mistaken as being a racial attack, but I think it is the most accurate description of the situation in which I currently find myself. I usually write on non-personal topics, but this post will be more of an examination of a few insights of an obviousness that while understood, is hard to truly appreciate without having been in similar circumstance.

I've been concentrating on school, balancing that with a daughter that has only begun to lose her new car smell, while looking at finding a job that is in my field of study. In the year previous to this, I had saved up a fair sum of money to do this before I took time off to complete my masters.

It was all going pretty well until recently the bank account numbers start to get smaller and smaller, I started to avoid activities that I would have regularly done, I stopped driving as much as possible, started buying more inexpensive food...all sorts of reasonable attempts to maximize the amount of money I had left.

Then it happened, although I'm not sure when, something shifted. I started to not make decisions based on the maximisation of the money I had left and instead based decisions on how much it 'hurt' to spend money or to think about how much less money I had then before. I caught myself not buying gas and driving home to make it with the gas light on because that way I wouldn't have to spend anything, but this actually cost me more because the only gas station that is close has higher prices. I think there is a point where a person regularly is no longer attempting to maximize the money they have left and instead is attempting to avoid the emotional reaction to facing how much money they actually have. This is where I found myself, where I had to actually focus on making rational economic spending decisions and had to face the reality of the situation. Maybe other people have faced similar insights in similar circumstances?

I even almost changed my mind on the lottery...almost, I can understand the appeal (there doesn't appear to be any other solutions, you lose 2 dollars and you're only slightly worse off then you were before and the only real way out is something significant which the lottery represents). Yet, it's made my opinion more negative about the lottery, as I can appreciate how predatory it is to take advantage of hope and desperation. It is that demographic that, proportionally, is hit the hardest by any wasted money, which the lottery unequivocally is.

Anyway, back to 'blackface broke'. This is the term I think is an apt description of my current situation as I am not truly broke. I have money that I could get too if needed, and support from my family around me, but I think I have experienced enough, not to say that I really know what it is like to face the desperation and hopelessness of having no money, but to know within a magnitude of degrees what that would feel like. I think this experience is similar to a person using 'blackface' to understand what it is like to be an African American, as they would experience a degree of racism, but only to a degree that was orders of magnitudes away from the racist reality. In either case, I think that that experience is enough to understand that it sucks and appreciate some of the effects it could have on the decisions you make, but not how awful it could really be.

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