Picture this; you’re on campus. Wherever you like to chill and hang out with pals. You’re talking about anything and everything with your friends. Your friend to your right brings up going away together for the weekend. Let’s say Amsterdam, for example. Everyone is all for it. You’re all getting hyped for the nightlife and the sights. A few of you look into flight prices while a few of you look into places to stay on Airbnb. No one brings up the issue of expenses, no one talks about how they’re going to afford to eat or fulfil any other basic necessities in that moment. And yet, any other day, you will often hear students speak of how ‘broke’ they are. What an interesting conundrum. On one hand, you have people splashing the cash on spur-of-the-moment breaks and on the other, you have people talking about their struggles to afford even basic forms of foods. I do not believe this issue is as simple as “telling the truth” or to “stop exaggerating” as I do not think this issue is one that stems from pettiness.
It’s a fact that this society was built and is sustained on capitalism. Whether you like that or not, that’s the society we find ourselves in now. Due to this, there is such a large ideology that we, as “fully functioning adults” present ourselves in a certain way. There is massive pressure to come across as if you have yourself altogether, due to the fact that college is many people’s first chance to live without parental supervision, or be financially independent. Think about it, I personally can say I know more people who receive grants like the SUSI grant than those who don’t and in a sense, these grants give people a feeling of being financially independent. It is completely up to you, the person who is receiving the grant, to spend it how you do.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love seeing people enjoy themselves and spend their money how they want to, either because they’ve worked for it or otherwise. In this economically-pressured society, I think it’s wonderful to find happiness in anyway you can and if spending money on an adventure is one way to bring you joy – go for it! Live your life, experience those memories. Treat yourselves to all those picturesque moments or material goods. I’m not telling people to deprive themselves of such joys. I wish that there was not such pressure on pretences of being financially stable, however.
In many way, the system is, for lack of a better word, messed up. Pressure comes from a variety of sources, more and more people are trying to get recognised as valid people in society and the government’s view to little heed. I believe that, inherently, this is where this need to appear well-off is presented in a very significant way. Are students truly broke? I mean, that depends on your definition. I’m inclined to say yes, regardless of grants and if you’re paying for your own tuition or not. For me personally, being financially independent was a difficult thing to process, as many things are in college. Whether you agree with this or not is up to you of course. While I’ve made my argument clear how this is not down to us as students but as a whole, I do believe this is more we could do. One is not to be as judgemental about what each of us do with our money and what we spend it on. Another is not to be so loud when speaking about possible holidays, as it tends to make others #welljel