What do you do when ordinary is no longer acceptable but extraordinary seems out of reach?
I am in my mid-30’s and have been longing for an extraordinary life for longer than I care to reflect on at this moment. I have, of course, tried to make life better…make life extraordinary but, I now realize that my efforts were too focused on the short-term. My husband and I would accept any job that increased our income…even if it was a bad fit…even if we knew it wouldn’t be sustainable…even if we knew in the end it may leave us worse off than we were before…all for temporary relief from our financial burdens.
I now realize in order to achieve the extraordinary results we are hoping for we must think more long term.
Our income is back down. Our income is once again sitting right at the 100% poverty line for a family of five.
Our children are insured through Medicaid, our oldest children receive free breakfast and lunch at school, my husband and I receive insurance through the Marketplace with a heavy subsidy; just this month we started receiving food stamps and we were just notified that we qualified for a small credit through the energy assistance program LIHEAP. None of these things lead to an extraordinary life…I don’t think we currently have an ordinary life…maybe what we have is a sub-par existence.
The decision to take extra assistance was not a light decision. My ultimate goal is to become a financially independent person…household. Before we can become financially independent we must become financially stable and end this cycle of poverty in which we find ourselves….in which we have always found ourselves; you see, my husband and I are the product of generational poverty. My mother grew up in horrific poverty. My upbringing was better than she had and I never thought of myself as having been in poverty at the time…but looking back on things…you don’t share a bedroom and one bed with your 3 siblings unless you are living in poverty. You don’t live in a house with partially completed rooms unless you are living in poverty. My husband grew up with a single mother living in poverty…poverty in his family was a new state and so he finds himself in the second generation. I am at least the 3rd…maybe even the 4th…and possibly the 5th.
We have joined a class using the Circles USA model. It was actually this class that lead us to apply for additional assistance for the time being. There is good work being done in our community because of Circles. It is really nice to be in a group that can understand the struggle to overcome certain barriers and be in a place without feeling the weight of judgement.
Since starting the class 4 weeks ago we have identified several barriers:
- Child care – child care has been an issue we face in respect to increasing our income, now we know that we would qualify for child care assistance should the need arise, our current schedules allow us to get by without formal child care.
- Education – we have a lot of student debt but no completed Bachelor’s degree. I know that a degree is not a magic pill but, the benefit of opportunity that comes with a degree cannot be denied.
- Network – we lack a network…big time. When you are living with a low-income guess who you know….for the most, you know other people in your situation; this is not exactly ideal when it comes to learning about opportunities to capitalize on your skills.
- Personality – if you have never taken a Meyer’s Briggs personality test I highly recommend you do so, you can take it for free at 16personalites.com. My personality type is INFJ…..INFJ’s have the lowest average income of all the types, this seems to be because of the tendency toward an extreme interest in helping people and in social justice, with almost no interest in the corporate world because it doesn’t satisfy a need for “meaning”. It can be hard to save the world and make money at the same time.
- Mental – above all else this is my largest barrier. When it comes to certain career tracks or networking or self-promotion or, or, or…I think I can’t or I think I don’t belong. I desire success and am terrified of success or, the process of becoming successful, all at the same time.
Fortunately all of the barriers can be overcome. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work and many uncomfortable situations outside my comfort zone awaiting me. If we are to achieve our goals, the barriers must be overcome…all at once or one at a time.