I’ve spent the day rather frustrated on behalf of a friend.
It’s about poverty, and it’s about class.
I won’t give many details, it’s not really my story to tell, but I figure the frustration is mine to have and share.
And I am indeed very frustrated. My friend, another anxious person, was told that it was a fairytale to want to get married while still a student, and when my friend has been in a partnership for about the same number of years I’ve been with my husband.
The person who said this to my friend seems completely clueless about how much more a fantasy the financial fairytales they put stock in are.
*(It is worth noting at this point, though it’s probably already late to do so that this rant is not entirely about my friends situation, a large portion of it is about what that reminds me of, and the general archetype of person who seems to have the views held in the situation my friend faces.)
In our day and age, with more and more students facing debts that they may never be able to justify having (as in they will not be able to have the job they intended when they applied for student loans to begin with), and with job security being reduced to meaning merely “having a job”, it is silly to put the rest of life on hold while waiting for “financial security” which may never come.
Yet here we are, with these ideals floating around that everyone should have a job, a house, a nest egg. Preferably before you get married or shortly there after, or before you have children which ever comes first. (Who am I kidding? These people expect marriage first.)
Having these things, in even your late 20’s is very unlikely. At least for most people, unless(!) they have parents who are already financially well off.
Having well off parents means you have the opportunity to ascend the ranks of ‘peon worker’ all the way up to ‘someone with a career’ more easily.
If you had your schooling paid for you’d have no wait time to get into school and that makes it more likely.
If you had to pay for school, but didn’t have had to pay for your living space, you’ve got an extra advantage.
If you paid for living space your parents may still have helped you pay for food, or your phone, or other significant bills.
Lastly, if you paid for all of these things but you are on good terms with your affluent parents, you still have an advantage: You know that you have/had something to fall back on if everything else failed.
That last one is really important actually because there is a lot of stress about the day to day that can be put on hold if you know that “well I can always ask my family if I’m in a really tight space”.
That is a luxury, and not everyone has that.
My friend sadly doesn’t either. Yet somehow ze partner’s parents seem to think that living without a distinct plan to pay off debts is a “Fairytale”.
(In this case having an indistinct plan means “finish school and try to get a job in my field” — I frankly don’t know what a distinct plan would even look like, but that general plan wasn’t good enough for ze parents.)
In fact having debts and trying to have a life at all is seemingly ‘unconscionable’ to them.
Well grand for them, they are middle class enough to not realize their own expectations are the fairytale.
(Stable job and savings before marriage. Are you kidding?)
It is equally a fairytale to believe that your little princess or prince is going to find another middle class (preferably debt free) prince or princess to marry.
Sorry, not likely.
The odds are against it says the magic 8 ball, and in this case reality agrees.
We, the impoverished are greater in number. Not because we’re “breeders” but because more and more of our country is becoming impoverished.
(In school I had exposure to rich and poor families alike. The poor families had about the same number of children as the rich ones 2 or 3. It’s anecdotal, but I couldn’t find actual stats based on the two vectors of birth-rate and wealth.)
So the likelihood that your little princess or prince will find another of their ilk is shrinking.
Let’s say they did eventually, there are a bunch of steps in between which are being ignored:
First they have to find someone at all (and for people who “wider nets” this is still not always easy; so when you have a rapidly narrowing net how do you think this is going to go?)
Then they have to get along (which is far trickier than it sounds)
Next, they have to actually be up to your standards in all other ways than just wealth. (Oh, what? You thought there weren’t ‘naughty’ princesses and princes out there? Think again.)
It’s a ridiculous standard to try and set for your child, to assume they should wait to live until they meet your personal vision of economic achievement in life and partnership.
It is, a fairytale.
A doomed to fail tale.
And it’s classist as fuck.
Would you like to know what’s not a fairytale?
To know that you’d be alright with cheaper options as long as it lets you move on with life, like a courthouse wedding.
Staying with the person you’ve already established half a decades relationship with without harassment or interference from parties not within that relationship.
To expect some modicum of respect on a human level and not a focus on the class barrier.
Being willing to be flexible while pursuing goals, knowing that some types of planning just aren’t possible without detailed information that crystal balls just refuse to give up for some reason. (hardy-har-har — no, really planning solidly for ones financial future is very difficult while being a student. You have all the hopes and dreams, but they may well be totally dashed even if you are successful in school.)
It’s also not a fairytale to know that debt is a matter of course in our society, and that as a result, if you actually want to try and work towards a career you are likely to end up in debt.
Expecting that you will find most fields of work rapidly declining in number of accepted applicants and therefore not basing the whole of the rest of life around work.
Living, and trying to further your goals in life without artificial constraints.
Sounds foolhardy and romantic to you?
Then perhaps you ought to go buy yourself a castle, it’ll attract the people you want for your child a lot faster than trying to force them into behaving like your little fiscal storybook narrative were true.
People this clueless as to their classism make me angry.
I’m curious, what other other assumptions (especially classist, or parent made) have you run into?
*made a couple edits for wording/clarity…