Lately, the topic of money has been coming up a lot more at home.
EDD, exorbitant rent prices, expenses…
When my parents retire, I will become the sole breadwinner.
Although this was inevitable, I wish my parents had been smarter with money. I wish they had goals for their financial future. I wish money didn’t have to loom over our heads everyday.
My parents worked as business owners throughout my childhood years. I grew up not knowing much about how money worked or how much our rent was. I was blissfully unaware of money yet made painfully aware of the wreckage it left behind on my family and surroundings. My father chose to leave me in the dark, his financial anxieties seeping through the cracks of our home while my mother sealed those cracks with guilt over spending and frugal practices. My father said we’d get by while my mother said we’d never get by.
I’m 26 and my feelings on our financial situation still oscillate between “We can afford it” to “We can’t afford anything.” These thoughts and more run through my head whenever I buy something–even if said thing is a $6 set of new drawing pencils. Do I need this? Do I reeeaaally need this? How do I know if need this? My time in my graphic design program has elevated those anxieties because of the expensive software and the sheer number of supplies needed for a class. T-squares, bezier curve templates, sketchbooks, markers, rulers, tracing paper, marker paper, adobe creative suite, etc. However, I’m at least thankful that I’m not in a full-fledged art school. (God knows how much more expensive facility and supply fees would be and how much more guilt and pressure I would suffer from loans and all that spending.)
Although I have yet to learn more about money, I hope to spend more time planning and budgeting once I get more time to because I know firsthand that there’s no point to saving without any goal or purpose.
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This is the most thoroughly articulated way that I've seen/read you express yourself, and I think that, though the topic is an overwhelmingly difficult one, there is a small victory for you in the fact that you took the time to write this out and share it like this. I was delighted to get such a relatively thorough and detailed share of a piece of your mind, to see you express this way.
I want to affirm to you that you're undergoing an really really difficult experience. In my life, I think a lot of what was difficult was that, in thinking I feel/experience something, I would not get a certain acknowledgement of it as a truth. So, my acknowledgement to you for you: I think yours is an incredibly difficult situation. Such that many others (including myself) could not know what it is to be in your situation. This is important for having the confidence in establishing and protecting your own truth.
I also want to second your experience with your Korean parents that you just didn't know what the household financial management was like, and that you only experienced it in the ways that your parents couldn't contain their difficulties as they wished to. To realize your parents' difficulties this way might be confusing and difficult for you, wondering where you role and responsibilities lie about something that you came to be aware of, whether they intended that you should or not.
All that said, Janet.. here's what I want to say to you, from my own perspective. I think I said this when we met, but sometimes it does not hurt to hear the same things multiple times. Your parents' responsibilities are not yours. Your parents' choices to lead a certain kind of life (ex. business-owning, as opposed to creating) also need not be yours. I am speaking preemptively, in case you shared these experiences with a feeling of guilt or obligation (since I personally think we are so socialized to feel these). Maybe you don't feel these, and what I'm saying is unnecessary. In which case --good! But if these feelings are present, I just want to remind you that the fact that you are there for them is huge. You're a wonderful person, and a great daughter. <3
I hope you are able to continue finding space for yourself --in your room, in gaming, in your studies-- where you can not think about your parents' financial concerns, where you can mind your own concerns and gradually find a path towards living your own life. This week, and the next week, and all the weeks after that.