I posed this question to a few of my co-workers during a slow period at work a few weeks back. The ModernMarriedGuy and I were proud new apartment dwellers in Austin after a recent period of homelessness, and I was eager to begin furnishing our new digs. I was also tired of trying to make a life in a home that consisted of two twin-sized airbeds.
Some of my co-workers were aware of our previous homeless situation, and knew my family was in process of starting over, rebuilding our lives and downsizing.
And regardless of the fact that I came to work daily, and was doing very well at the job, the looks I received were less than receptive to my query.
In fact, they looked at me as though I was crazy for daring to ask.
They looked furtively at each other, then back at me. Some looked merely uncomfortable, while other looked downright smug. One person spoke tentatively:
“Well, there’s a Goodwill not too far from here. And I think they have a St. Vincent de Paul, and some second-hand shops downtown…”
I reiterated that we was looking for new furniture, not second hand or used, and, again, looks were exchanged. One of the bolder members of the group then piped up:
“But how can you get new furniture? Can you even afford it?”
I am new to the job and my mother raised me well. those were the only things that really stopped me from 1) telling Miss Priss what I thought of her ill-mannered comment and 2) jumping over the cubicle to leave no doubt as to my thoughts on her comment.
When you are going through financially hard times, people make assumptions about who you are and how you must live, based on little to no evidence. They assume your money management skills are poor (even though they themselves may be living one pacheck away from homelessness, mortgaged to the hilt with credit cards maxed), that you surely indulge in illict, immoral and possibly illegal activities that deplete your funds and that you are just not the “right” sort of person. These assumptions will color their every interaction with you, and the perception is so palpable, it could be sliced with a knife.
And it’s these folks who have no small amount of “advice” for you about getting back on your feet. They certainly want you to have certain small creature comforts, the very basics that make life manageable.
But because you have already “screwed up,” you don’t deserve anything truly good. Not the best, and certainly not NEW furniture.
For them, you will always be “better off” making do, accepting handouts, and living in a small bubble of mediocrity or below. They will always direct you to low-budget, low-rent and second-hand resources. They will always try to let you know, in ways both subtle and overt, your place in the grand scheme of things.
Please don’t be fooled into thinking that these people are well-meaning, but just don’t know any better.
They know better. And what they know is that you don’t deserve any better.
There are conversations happening at this time, exacerabted by the current vitriol bubbling forth in the current polictical climate, that those who have fallen on hard times have put themselves in that position and deserve exactly what little they get, possibly not even that.
There are some in this world who have very little joy they are building or nuturing in their own lives, and they cultivate what little joy they can find on the misery of others. They secretly celebrate people’s misfortune, feeding off of the negativity of hard times. And with every step you take towards rebuikding your life, any measure of making positive strides towards solvency and better living gives them lesson which to feed.
They don’t like that.
So, they will urge you to make choices that will continue a cycle of negativity in your life. They will advise you to surround yourself with poor furniture, urge you to make unhealthy food choices in the name of saving money, implore you to make use of government aid whether you truly need it or not, send you information on car deals for vehicles you will barely be able to drive off the lot.
All in the name of advice. They won’t direct you to ways of building your wealth, your health or your circumstance in any positive manner.
You don’t deserve any better.
What you must remember is that you are downsizing — but you are NOT down and out. You are starting over, and you can go as far as you want to go. With a fresh start, possibilities are endless.
Of all the things you must remove during a life reboot, negative people and cirumstances must be first. Only from there can you truly start over.
NOTE: I no longer work with those aforementioned team members; I moved to a new team with members who have no idea of what I previously experienced.
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