I’m Poor

“I’m poor” is a phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot lately from friends, especially when I’m trying to plan a nice evening for us outside of our apartments. Every time I hear that phrase, I cringe and hold my tongue. For many individuals my age, it can seem like we have no money. Student loans, renting our first apartment, car insurance, renters insurance, pets, cell phone bills; it all escalates quickly. But, are we really “poor?”

Different images can pop into our minds when we think of the word “poor” or “rich.” When I think of “poor,” I think about a homeless person sitting on the side of the street, or a single parent who only works a few hours a week and is about to lose his or her house…and possibly their child(ren). When I think of poor, I don’t think of people in their early-mid twenties. Sure, we don’t have a lot, and we haven’t even started thinking about saving for retirement, but most of us have an amazing support system, like friends or family, or other financial resources (financial counselors) that can help push us in the right direction.

When I think of poor, I think of individuals whose family members left them to fend for themselves, put them into foster care, went to jail, died without saving a single penny to give to their children (who are already homeless with nothing), the list goes on. When I think of rich, sure I think about individuals that have mansions in California, nice cars, wear Gucci, etc. However, I also think of people who have enough money to pay for their own car, provide food for themselves (and possibly another family member), have a pet or multiple, go out to eat with friends, but most importantly, I think about myself. When I thought I had nothing, whenever I’ve felt like the world is falling apart around me, I have my family, friends, significant other, and my dog. I have a plan B; I have a backup system. This helps me know that even if I don’t have much in the end, everything will work out.

I used to be the type of person who took on everything, who thought she could figure it out on her own, who was afraid to ask for help, and who was used to having other adults “taking care of” it for her when it was physically apparent that she was struggling. Now, I’ve learned to say “no.” I’ve learned to ask for help directly and from multiple resources. I ask for help because I am rich. I am rich because I have a strong support system. I have a strong support system because I’m attracted to people who know what it means to care. I am not poor. I am the opposite of poor.

Granny Smith – over and out

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32 thoughts on “I’m Poor

  1. Pingback: I’m Poor | Adeyemi Bello

  2. In the UK poverty certainly isn’t a state of mind for many people. Austerity has hit hard, and thousands of families can only survive because they visit food banks. We have families who haven’t worked for generations because of the deindustrialisation forced by political dogma on large tracts of the country. That fosters ill health, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness. No amount of family hugs can counteract the social and economic realities facing people, not only in the UK but across Europe and countries in the world (the Middle East for example and a number of African countries) riven by war and strife, ebola too. I don’t think even in America poverty for many people is a state of mind.

    Poverty is a reality.

    Sorry to burst your comfort bubble, but its denial is not something those who come across it every day can countenance. But I agree about family and friend support mechanisms – essential for us all.

    • Thanks for your comment! Although, I did say in my post that when I think of poor, I think of the homeless, and families that can’t provide for their children, etc. I do recognize poverty. I just think that there are too many people who can pay their rent, phone bills, etc. and still consider themselves poor even though they have some money left over.

  3. As you’ve said, poverty isn’t a state of mind, it’s a grim reality for some. Focussing on the positive, though, is a state of mind to be envied.

    I love Granny Smiths. You must be an Aussie.

  4. I agree with you, poor needs to be reserved for the true poor. I was a single mom. I had to choose heat or food many times, eating dinner in our winter coats, sending my daughter to bed in mittens and extra socks to stay warm. ‘Borrowing’ toilet paper from work as it was a necessity but so hard to budget for. It was scary. Eating every day was not in the budget for me. All this while I worked a full time job, paid for rent, daycare and bus passes to get us back and forth to daycare and work. Even when I was poor, I didn’t say poor because I was always aware it could be worse, although I was very aware of my own reality. I did not have a strong support system and fought my battle mostly on my own, but I had determination and drive. I have always been rich with independence and determination. It’s why I am where I am today.

    I also volunteer at a food bank and volunteer with a ‘free will dinner program’ and I’ve never heard ‘poor’ come from any of them.

    Thank you for your write. It was nice to read and well said. People need to have a reality check and realize to not be able to afford extra luxury items does not constitute the word poor.

    Thanks again!!! I look forward to more 🙂

  5. In Norway we use the word “blakk”, which just means “I currently don’t have any money”, instead of the word “fattig”, which means “poor”. I think we just need a more fitting word to describe the student situation. It’s not like we’re starving, we’re just currently short on funds 🙂

    I really like your blog. Thank you for following me.

    – Susann

  6. Great philosophy! Too many folks in our society think of ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ in terms of money. My beliefs helped me to manifest many adventures in my life, and part of that was living ‘poor’ in both Barbados and Mexico. 18 years of watching how folks who really live in poverty are blessed with a life most of us never see. They have incredible support systems and a caring and generous attitude. Most are happy and content with their lives. Those years taught me a lot and I try to be supportive to those who welcome it.

  7. Some people have a hard time distinguishing between “wants” and “needs.” I grew up in a family where we didn’t always have a lot of money, but we always had plenty to eat and a home filled with love. I’ve been very blessed.

  8. Excellent post, and some wonderful comments too. Long time ago, when I was immersed (up to my hairline!) in an urban (U.S.) feminist community, many events offered a “sliding scale” for admission, or said “pay what you can.” I and many other organizers noticed that women with good incomes often paid at the low end of the scale while working-class women and women with irregular incomes and/or major financial responsibilities (like children or other dependents) usually paid at the middle or above. The better-off women went by what they happened to have in their wallet at the time. The not-so-well-off women often saved up for the event. It was a big education for me. Not everyone realized (or wanted to realize) that putting an event cost money: renting a hall and maybe sound equipment, promoting it, paying the performers, etc., etc.

    I’ve seen similar attitudes play out in different places over the years and try to be careful with the words I use. As a self-employed single woman with a modest income, I sometimes struggle to get bills paid on time, but I’m not poor, and when I’m “broke,” it’s usually temporary. If I get really strapped, I have friends who’ll lend me money to tide me over. Poor people don’t have that cushion or those resources.

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