January 30, 2014

Road to Joy: Candle wax worries

This is probably the last thing my editors want to hear, but I am afraid of writing personal things, especially if there’s a chance that they can be read by others. And although I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, this blog is no different. I have been afraid to stray past (what I hope are) funny, self-deprecating “opinions” because of the chance that a future employer or my really adorable grandparents might google my name and see that, hey, Jenny Lee sometimes has an extremely hard time speaking up in class because of her anxiety, or, hey, Jenny Lee doesn’t know how to handle the fact that she comes from a family that now has no source of income.

Because that’s what happened a week ago: My dad got laid off. Considering he makes approximately 100 percent of the money in our household, he has two children in college, the job market is bleak to say the least, and Kentucky, bless it, isn’t exactly blooming, this is something of a problem.

For some reason, I have never really thought about what unemployment means. I never really thought about how it would mean the end of being able to go to Student Health Services without worrying about being able to afford it, or how it would mean the end of being able to get my monthly prescription of contact lenses to, you know, see. I never thought about how it would mean that we’d have to move out of the place in which I’ve lived for 17 years, or how I’d most likely never see my friends from high school again. I never thought about how it would mean that I’d have to start juggling three jobs along with four tough classes and three RSOs and friendships and sleep. Being the extremely privileged and ignorant person I was, I also never even thought that it could happen to me.

By the time you get to this sentence, I will have deleted what I’ve written and tried to come up with a different subject to write about twice. I don’t have a solid opinion about my situation. I don’t even really know what I’m trying to say. There is no more space left in my brain, where worries drop down like candle wax, first singeing, then warmly hardening firm; every wrinkle has been filled by strict calculations of how many minutes I can afford to spend socializing, or by worries about money. The reason I am writing about this personal, real-life problem is because I literally don’t have anything else on my mind.

How do other people in this situation do it? How do people at this school, of all the schools, manage to keep up with the rigorous pace that our classes demand, work enough hours to feed themselves, make time for RSOs, maintain relationships, get more than a handful of hours of sleep a night, and, here’s the tough part, not lose their sanity while doing it? The University must know about cases like this—how does it expect us to get through this?

Come to think of it, how many of us are there going through this?

It’s funny when you realize that things could be worse—it’s only been a week for me and I’ve already broken down into a puddle of pathetic, I-used-to-be-upper-middle-class tears more times than I’m happy to admit. There are resources available to help get us cope with this situation, though. Of course, I don’t exactly want to pay to have some counseling service listen to me cry, especially if that’s just another expense, but maybe it’ll be worth it down the line.

For now, I guess it’s good that I’m writing about real-life problems for the first time—though it’d be even better if there were some real-life solutions headed my way. At the very least I’d love to know how to keep my adorable grandparents from ever being able to read these blog posts.

Jenny Lee is the blogger behind Road to Joy. She is a second-year in the college majoring in political science.