I have been ruminating heavily about money lately and I do not think that is something my mind has been stuck on as unrelentingly in the past as it is now. I am certain some of it has to do with the ever-increasing price of everything, the bar for the “average” cost of something creeping up to a silly amount and this exhausting “here to stay” trend of subscriptions for basically everything and anything. (Can we *please* stop this subscription nonsense, with its imperceptible draining of our accounts.)
I think it also has to do with the shift in my perspective and the way I view the world since that day the world shutdown, of which we are all aware. Since that moment, my ability to strive for a future I have created in my head that I want has ceased to exist. However, I do not find this to be a bad thing – not at all. I actually find that it has made me wake-up to this idea that whatever you can dream you can do is really just a false hope we tell ourselves and to appreciate what I *do* have. Now, I happen to be in a great situation with a family that supports me and does not pressure me to conform to some socially-accepted idea that you must be one way to be considered an unpathetic adult. In that, I am in an advantageous position. However, that does not stop be from being concerned with my life.
I have numerous examples around me from the different units of my family of the numerous ways in which to get by in this life. There are those living on credit or in debt regardless of income level; there are those living paycheck to paycheck at an age when they are supposed to be supported by a social security; there are those working everyday just to get by; and there are those who are unhindered by debt, living comfortably within their means. I see them all and have realized that I once fell into one of those categories and, now being in a different, I am unsure how to proceed without falling back into the latter.
One of the things that we fail (in my opinion) to hold at a higher importance is time. Time, for the majority of us, has, was and is being stolen from us in our reckless pursuit of accumulating more money to better our lives. There is absolutely no doubt about it that money makes life easier to navigate, but the ingrained belief that things will be better with more of it, I think, is rather false. I think, too, that those who make more become blinded to the fact that they are being stolen from just by being able to ‘afford’ to do something.
For example, I recently got my life together and created my living will package. This is something my parents had done recently also, but they purchased the package of paperwork through some service. I, not being down to fork out that money and privy to the fact that there was a free resource for that, gathered the various paperwork through Gale Legal Forms offered by the Library. (If you did not know we had this, shame on me. But we have this service and you can get pretty much get every legal form you need from there without paying a fee. All you need is an active library card.) My parents were like, “Well! If we would have known, we would have just done that, too.” The main difference between our two approaches was that they had access to a lawyer through the service and I trudged my way through the legal jargon myself. So, in a way, my time was a bit stolen in the interpretation of intentionally confusing language, and their money was a bit stolen as they did not even use the lawyer service.
I think what I am trying to get at here is that though I am in a different financial situation than I once was, making less than in previous careers, I am actually richer in that I have become a more resourceful person, aware of the social support that is offered by organizations such as my employer, the Public Library, and the wider support by the community in which it lies agreeing that such an institution is important for said community. I have also become wiser to how much pressure we, as a society, have placed on ourselves to strive to check certain boxes as we progress through life. We put so much value on things that have a price tag and dismiss anything that comes without as lesser than or even of zero worth.
I don’t know how to go about changing this greater mindset, so all I can do is work on changing mine. Starting with being more proactive about learning about the organizations already in place, such as the Public Library, that provide us all with social support and supporting them with a commodity I value more: Time.
-Samantha Hanchett, Marketing + Outreach Coordinator
*Please note that the opinions of “Thoughts” are just that and do not necessarily represent the views of the Thomas County Public Library.