Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
My economic situation has had an interesting effect on my relationship with those around me.
My parents had to support me, emotionally and financially, during my unemployment, and they are certainly the people I depended on the most and the relationship that had to adjust the most to my situation.
I’ve talked often here about what my parents did for me and how much I appreciated it. The moving-home situation could have been a lot worse and my parents were great about it and the strain was much less than I expected, considering the last time I lived with them full time was when I was in high school.
I think what helped a lot was that I wasn’t just sitting around moping. I’m not built for more than one or two moping days in a row, if that. I have to be moving and doing at all times. Most of my moping was when I was in bed at night worrying. During the day, I was working on this or that project, or at this or that part-time job. I was writing cover letters and searching the job listings.
I tried to be as little a burden as possible and my parents were really flexible.
Other than food and living rent free, I was able, through unemployment benefits and the income from my part-time jobs, to fund the rest of my life decently well. My student loans were on deferment, which was a huge help, and the rest of my bills (car payment, etc.) were covered by the money coming in. I think that helped a lot to keep strain and stress from affecting me and my parents.
Money stress can sour a relationship, no matter the type, pretty quickly.
My friends have likewise been great. Luckily — or unluckily, depending on how you look at it — we’re all in similar financial situations, so it’s not as though I have to decline invitations left and right to expensive nights out. At other times, I’ve had friends be great and buy my drinks for a night so I can come out and not worry about how I’m going to pay for it.
I think everyone is really understanding of each other’s financial constraints and now it’s my turn to be understanding, since, while by no means financially well-off, I do have an income. Now I can buy a round, just because. Now I can budget in a weekend trip for Homecoming. But I still have to be careful. My brother just got married and we stayed at a casino. I did not gamble. My friends want to take a trip in March to D.C. for a basketball game and to visit friends. I have to really think about it and decide if I can afford the trip.
But I wouldn’t say that my situation strains my relationships with my friends because we’re all there in the same place. We don’t talk about how hard it is. We don’t have to. We all know.