Things Can Change
I was talking to my online therapist recently about my fear/conviction that I’ve fallen so far beyond financially and taken on so much credit card debt that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for me to ever be debt-free no matter how desperately I would like to be.
Incidentally, when people are experiencing intense financial strain, as so many of us are these days, and talk about their struggles with money, in person or online, the response they really, really, really do not want is that with a little budgeting and self-discipline getting out of debt is a breeze and anyone can do it.
This is deeply unhelpful, bordering on insulting and callous. It’s like when someone is wrestling publicly and dramatically with serious body issue images; they don’t want “helpful”, “well-intentioned “ strangers to tell them to eat less and exercise. They’re not looking for tough love, constructive criticism or diet tips; they want understanding and empathy and to know that they’re not along in struggling and feeling overwhelmed and defeated sometimes. The same is true of people who struggle publicly with money. Besides, you don’t know someone else’s struggle. You don’t know what they’re dealing with in their personal or professional or economic lives so volunteering that, actually, it’s not that hard to lose a lot of weight or get out of debt and if they did it, you can as well is almost invariably deeply insensitive and counter-productive. People generally want to be heard, genuinely heard, not to be given glib, facile solutions to their biggest problems.
I was talking about how my credit card debt seemed overwhelming and I couldn’t see a way out of it and I said, off-handedly, “But, you know, things can change.”
The words had the weird weight of a half-assed revelation. Of course I knew that things could change but I always assumed that if they changed it would almost invariably be for the worse, that life would continue on a perpetual downward trend where money was concerned, that every year it will get harder and harder to make a living in my industry as it continues to contract mercilessly, getting colder and smaller and more prohibitively difficult, if not downright impossible.
But in that moment another thought suddenly hit me: thing could change in positive ways as well. That felt incredibly liberating, even empowering. Yes, things could change for the worse. Yes, things probably would change for the worse. That’s kind of how life works these days. But things could also change for the better as well.
Now I did not say that things would change for the better. That kind of blind-to-moderate optimism has invariably bitten me in the ass in the past. But the possibility, if not the likelihood, let alone inevitability, that good things could happen for me in the future gave me a weird surge of hope.
Because great shit has happened for me. I would go so far as to say that great shit has happened to me fairly often over the course of my life, that I have been extraordinarily fortunate in so many ways. I am incredibly grateful to still be able to make a living doing what I love. I thank God every day for the Happy Place and the freedom, community, validation and income it has given me. I could not be prouder of the Weird Accordion to Al book or more excited to share it with the world.
I’m fucking blessed, y’all. I’m not even kidding. I really am. Every day I wake up knowing that something amazing could happen. Something awful could happen as well but it’s certainly not preordained.
Here’s the thing: good things could happen for me. They really could. To close myself off to that possibility because I’ve been hurt in the past and as a freelance pop culture writer in 2019 I have ample reason to be pessimistic is to also cut myself off from the light that comes with the possibility of a better tomorrow.
Things could get better for me. Things can change in positive ways as well as negative. For right now, that’s enough. Things could get better for you as well, no matter how bleak or hopeless things might seem. I hope that’s a source of comfort for you as well.
Support independent media and help ensure a robust present and future for the Happy Place over at https://patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace
and/or y’all can still get in on the still red-hot Weird Accordion to Al book campaign too: https://make-the-weird-accordion-to-al-book-a-ridiculous-r.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders?amp=1