I’m intelligent. I have educated myself. I’m lucky enough to have been born fairly attractive. I have a wonderful smile. I have a fairly nice personality. I’m driven and passionate about things that interest me. I care about others. I generally fit all those things people attribute to people who are successful.
I’m not successful though. Instead I’m poor. And there is no escape.
Over the past year I have been blessed with several opportunities. I am more grateful than I can sufficiently verbalize to have been blessed with these opportunities.
But they are opportunities which I should never have accepted. The reason I should not have accepted them is because, as simple as they are, I do not have the means to follow through with them.
Here’s an example: A couple of months ago I was given the opportunity to transcribe a book for someone. It was a simple task. Type about 300 pages of text. The task involved little more than sitting in front of my computer for several hours a day…which I essentially already do.
It took me three times longer than it should have because my simple task was impeded by constant poverty based interruptions. Everything from being evicted to being arrested to simply not having enough fuel/food to concentrate on the task at hand piled up at once. Even worse, I can’t even afford to send the book I was transcribing back to the person who sent it to me.
Even though they are willing to let me try again, I know that I will not be able to sufficiently complete any future tasks given to me by this person. No matter how much they want to help. No matter how much I want to take the help. My poverty will be a constant pile up that will keep me from completing even the simplest tasks.
Because of that, I’m going to end up refusing any future work I am given so that I won’t keep embarrassing myself. I want to do the work. I’d give anything to be able to make a living (or even just a little money) doing the things that they need done. But all of the crap that comes with poverty won’t allow it.
I had someone offer to help me with a bill here or there. I’ve accepted the help. But then they offered again. And again. Always working under the assumption that if I could just pay this one bill I could be back out in front again. And that’s how it is for a lot of people; so I totally understand why they think it would be that way for me too.
But I’m behind, not just by a light bill or a few traffic tickets. My current debt is about $50,000 once you factor in student loans, medical bills, and all the penalties that I’m collecting due to these things. For me, “caught up” means that I’m only behind on all my payments by a month. Meaning that, since I never had enough to begin with, no matter how many little things someone else takes care of for me, there will always be more problems.
Since it will never be enough, I can’t allow someone else to end up in this same trap by continuing to try and help me. Poverty just drags everyone else around you down.
I really should have remembered all of that before I agreed to let yet another person help me. But I didn’t. Instead, I was so excited at the opportunity that I never stopped to think of how completely impossible it would be for me to follow through.
And this is a freaking amazing opportunity too! It’s a trip to the Florida Historical Society Annual Meeting in St. Augustine. Even better, the subjects this year are basically everything that my work is based on! There’s even someone presenting the other side of one of the events that is central to my research. I’d die to have the opportunity to hear that. And now the opportunity is just being handed to me! Someone shelled out their own cash to let someone who is essentially little more than an 8th grade dropout/mechanic/cashier spend a weekend at a resort rubbing elbows with smart history type folks. Why? Because they think I’m smart too!
How freaking insane is that!?
I feel like a kid who just found out they were going to Disney World!
And I let that blind me.
I’ve had a year to back out, and I should have.
I should have done so before I let them pay for everything. But I was convinced I could manage it. And why shouldn’t I have been able to? I’ve experienced hardships my whole life. I lived homeless and eating out of garbage cans for two years. I finished mechanic school completely homeless.
I am fearless!
But being fearless doesn’t pay the rent. Or the electricity. Or the car payments.
And it doesn’t allow me the financial stability to be able to sit at a resort for a weekend while my family sits home and starves.
I accepted because I thought it would be a breakthrough for me. And really, it probably would have been. I enjoy the history I study so much that I go full fan-girl over the people who write about it. Add that to the “talking dog” novelty of a semi-homeless woman with no real formal education who gets passionate about a subject most people consider dull and dry, and I had this shit in the bag. If nothing else, I’d get to spend a weekend around other people who are just as passionately dry and boring as I am.
I was so focused on taking advantage of the opportunity that I forgot reality.
Reality is that I can’t even make the trip to the resort because I can’t leave my family without a vehicle. Without electricity. Facing another eviction. And even if I got the ride part fixed, my husband can’t miss another day of work to stay home with our daughter so I can go traipsing off to St. Augustine on a Friday. He’s already had to miss a day almost every week for the past two months because of my bullshit. How do I justify piling something so frivolous on top of all of that?
I should have never accepted. Being given opportunities isn’t enough. Being driven isn’t enough in the face of reality.
Reality is that I was being completely selfish when I accepted and let someone else spend their money on me without fully thinking things through.
Reality is that I’m poor.
And, no matter how many opportunities we are given, no one escapes that.
Update: Apparently, some people actually do choose to support you no matter what. As of the time I am writing this update, I am still going to the Historical Society thing.