It has been so difficult to decide on a second topic. Four drafts and nothing seemed worthy. So, I took an hour-long bath with lavender salt, a book, and let my mind wander into the deepest corners where I found a thought. Every week of this year I will challenge myself and write about something a friend, family member, stranger, or alcohol tells me to write about. 52 posts in 52 weeks. Just me, my cat Malcolm, and my MacBook. So here’s my first topic: poverty.
The other day, I wrote a shallow draft to address this topic. I titled it “The Struggle” and began with a very vain and ignorant paragraph. It wasn’t until I talked to a friend that I realized my post failed to answer one extremely important question: am I really poor? After multiple miles of running filled with meditation, I came to the conclusion that I am most definitely not poor. Yes, my family struggles often; yes, we sometimes worry about how we’re going to pay the piling bills; yes, we can’t afford private flute lessons for my little sister; yes, we can’t buy my little cousins tons of gifts; and yes, I can’t afford to mirror the lifestyle my friends have. But, I realize that none of those things fall into what I think poverty is.
So, what is poverty? The Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds to determine who is in poverty; the World Health Organization says that “poverty is associated with the undermining of a range of key human attributes, including health“; and bloggers all over the country post their experience on what it’s like to be “poor.” When I asked some of my friends what they thought being poor meant, this is what some of them answered:
“I guess everyone could have a different definition for it, but for me I think to consider yourself poor, you would think there is an emptiness that you feel needs filling, regardless if it’s materials or not.”
“To me being poor means having more needs and expenses than your income can provide. Needs being defined as things needed to live or survive, which include food, shelter, and clothes.”
“Living uncomfortably due to a lack of funds or necessities.”
To me, poverty is an extreme term. It means that resources are depleted and that mobilization is impossible. The families that were unable to escape Hurricane Katrina due to a lack of financial resources can be called poor, but definitely not me.
For such a long time I have referred to myself as “being poor.” Today, I realize that I was so wrong to use such a phrase. I have the luxury of eating great food everyday; the ability to pay rent (almost always) on time for my apartment in San Francisco; to go out with friends; and the privilege to not have to take on a full-time job.
As the wise Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledor said, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” Stop using the word poor to describe yourself; stop pitying yourself for something you’re not experiencing; and don’t dwell on the negative, but instead do something to change your current situation.
Personally, I have been worrying about way too many #firstworldproblems. I need to stop complaining about being unhappy with my current lifestyle and instead focus on how to accept my current situation and then do something about it.
The other day my friend posted a great article. The article described multiple happiness tips and one of them was “Acceptance.” Although I believe that acceptance is important, I would amend the tip to “Accept and React.” I would just be in a pit of depression if I couldn’t accept my constraints. But simply accepting your constraints isn’t enough. You must react and be productive!
I am a student, volunteer, employee, among other things, but I have so many free hours in the day. I should be working on scholarships as we speak and doing more to better myself! In closing, I’ll leave you with another great Dumbledore quote.