29 April 2012

must be funny in a rich man's world.

i am opinionated. i have this need to express my opinions on most any issue. i also have a need to express my disagreement when around people whose opinions differ from mine.

the typical venue for these instances is wednesday lunch with my grandparents. my dad's parents and brother go out to lunch once a week, and i get to join. we're the wednesday lunch bunch. adorable, i know. my grandparents claim to be libertarian, though they're definitely more socially conservative than the term 'libertarian' allows. my uncle is a venture capitalist, though more socially liberal. i'm an anarcho-communist. this makes for interesting discussion. whether we're discussing budget cuts, the occupy movement, or worldwide elections, there is always debate to be had. i love this, because it gives me a chance to show that i can intelligently express my opinions at the grown-up table. though i know there is no hope in persuading any of my relatives to hold the opinions i do, they can see my points, and i can make attempts to see theirs. all in all, it's a fairly civil affair.

i have 'adopted' family, as well. though i don't love them as family, my mother and my brothers do. i tag along, and try to play nice. this family is a fairly conservative bunch. today, we were discussing the measures (or lack thereof) being taken by congress in regard to the impending raise in interest rates for student loans. one individual made a comment about how people who live off of student loans deserve to have the higher interest rate. "i'm the one paying the money for those loans. i don't want people spending them on car payments and mortgages. go get a job."

i was floored by this comment. i'm a college student. i have a job. i don't work full time, because i cannot commit fully to my academic career while also having to commit to a full-time job. federal grants pay my tuition, but i still have to pay for living expenses. while some people manage to make things work via grants and a part-time job, i'm not. i could, i guess, if i cut back. but more than half of what i earn each month goes toward rent, utilities, and other charges from my apartment complex. the rest of the money is spent on food, school costs, gas, and medical bills. mostly food and medical bills. sometimes i eat less and buy myself new underwear.

my expenses are relatively small, compared to other people i know. i don't have a car payment. i don't have a mortgage. i don't have kids. i'm not paying tuition. also, i'm not the most savvy spender. frugality is not one of my virtues. but i think of the students i know, whose expenses exceed mine. i think about what they do with their student loan money. there is no way that, without student loans, these people could get by. i know very few students who do not have jobs. it just isn't feasible for students to pay all their expenses on student-friendly jobs alone. some people reconcile this by taking fewer credit hours, and working full-time while going to school part-time. some stop going to school in order to earn money and make ends meet, with the intention to some day return to school when they can pay tuition in cash. some take out student loans. you do what you need to, in order to make sure you have lodging, food, transportation, relatively clean clothing, and the materials/resources necessary to be a successful student.

i mean no disrespect to my 'adopted' family. its members manage to make things work, somehow. but, life isn't as easy as 'go get a job' and then BAM! you're able to make all your ends meet without going into debt. i began to express this opinion, when i was shushed by my mother, who later told me that "it isn't a big deal. it isn't important. you need to calm down." but it is. it IS a big deal. it IS important. disagreeing with my 'aunt's' opinion is not reason to tell me to calm down. let me say my peace. let me attempt to understand why this woman, who has three grown children, struggling to make ends meet, thinks that people should be punished financially for trying to obtain an education. that's really all i want. to try and understand her point of view.

and, suddenly, i became very grateful for my wednesday lunch bunch, and the opportunities they provide me to express my opinions, and engage in constructive conversation. that i'm speaking with people who take me and my ideals seriously, even if they don't agree with them.

bye for now.

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