Eight years and thirty thousand dollars later; I am a debt free undergraduate. I learned more from those eight years of payments than the classes I took to accrue the debt. And, even after all that education, I am about as dumb as when I began.
What I can say is that I made it. I got out from under the interest rate, always just scraping by. All it took was to live in a vehicle without heat, water, or stability for a little under two years. It is well under our means, requiring us to ignore the fear of detachment, and the unknown.
What may take more time is the resentment I feel for it having taken so long. The day I graduated college, I entered a crumbling job market, without any guarantees, and an interest rate that had the capacity to keep me buried for life. I couldn’t navigate my way out.
As much as I want to celebrate this debt free moment, what I feel more compelled to do is to find high ground, and shout a big FUCK YOU out over it all. Fuck us, fuck our society, our system, the corruption, and greed. I was tagged young, and taken for granted, and for what in return? What a fool I was. What a mistake to play it safe, when safety doesn’t exist.
The apartments I have lived in, owned by an investor who would just let the mold grow; disinterested until the moment the rent is late. As I struggled to get by, I would receive letters from companies offering to buy out my student loan debt, with a slightly reduced interest rate (at least to start) so that they instead would profit from me.
I am not designed for the world in which I live in. So, take my money, but take it for the last time. I have miraculously conquered the mountain, but as Sir Edmund Hillary once said, (but also must mention that he did not do it without the experience of Tenzing Norgay) “it is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
Without any concept of money or career, I entered my education. At a moment in which you have the capacity for true learning, I was yet again sitting in a classroom, waiting for a real lesson.
I have done what was required. I have obeyed. But, I was promised success that I never received. I was told that college would make everything okay, that I would be safe. Instead, I saw a world I never wanted to see, and I saw it too young. I saw the world of fear, and was escorted in to its suffocating embrace, holding me tight for eight frightening years.
It is now over. The residue of past mistakes has finally been scrubbed free. And while obscenities are welling in my throat, I will choke back the urge to react with anger. And instead, must embrace the new day, both inside and out. I must conquer my resentment, make peace with the choices I have made, and forgive the restrictions that had been placed upon me, for I refuse to enter another prison on the day in which I am to be set free.
And that lesson didn’t cost me a thing.