My Guilty Little Secret
I lied to my students. I don’t have student loans.
I would have told the truth if I didn’t get the impression that people hate me for growing up with some amount of financial security. It isn’t even like I go around telling people that I’m a white youth from a so-called privileged background. They just figure it out.
Somehow or another, they get word that I’m still in the dorms. With a sort of scowl on their face, they ask me how I’m paying for college. I tell them my parents have it covered for up to four years, and their grimace turns almost self-satisfied.
“He has no idea what it’s really like to have it really bad.”
I could try to counter their haughtiness with a few fully truthful personal admissions. After all, my parents got divorced when I was in fifth grade. The far-left State of California awarded my mom not even partial custody of the kids because she’s so very bipolar. There was a period of about four years that the court-mandated visits to my mom were the worst two hours of my week. I could go on, but I really don’t want to.
If in a moment of weakness I do bring any of that up, the self-satisfied look gets wiped off temporarily. As much as they try to console me — I don’t fish for sympathy — their outlook hasn’t changed much if at all.
“Maybe there were crappy parts of your childhood. Mine was still crappier. You still have no idea what it’s really like.”
I’ve have my share of misery, people. Trust me. There’s no reason to try to get in a pissing contest about it. But I don’t want to have a misery-off. Truth is, I know I’d lose. I’m content with my life, and I’m thankful for the blessings I’ve had. People take “blessings” too far, though.
I don’t have a trust fund or a pending inheritance. I don’t have fancy electronics. I don’t waltz around like I own the place.
Yet, peers and even teachers still seem to get the impression that I’m that rich kid who got a sports car on his 16th birthday and, the following drunken weekend, promptly crashed it.
So I avoid the issue when I can. I still tell faculty and staff the truth because I know I should. Faculty and staff aren’t in the classroom while I’m teaching, so losing credibility with them won’t affect the essential bit of the whole student teaching thing.
But students were in the classroom, and credibility was and is their currency. So when they asked me how I’m paying for college, I told them the only answer that made sense at the time.
That wasn’t my only option. I just hate that I felt like it was.
Every day, we experience a thousand moments, each of those moments setting in motion a thousand slightly different possibilities in the future. When we make these choices, we are thrust toward another day's crossroads, where we have another thousand choices.
Given the infinite number of choices we make in a lifetime, why do we choose so many of the same routes and make just as many of the same mistakes as our parents and grandparents?
I plan to learn from their mistakes. Let's see how far I get.
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