The Point of No Return – Part 2

Previous related post.

I took the final for my second-to-last class yesterday. I struggled a lot with this class and didn’t do well, but in the end, I did pass. Shockingly, I could’ve failed the final and still passed, though I’m glad I didn’t. Today is the start of the last of my school’s program. What then?

According to the program, internship follows the end of classes. To say I’m anxious would be an understatement.

Yes, I’m happy school is almost over, especially considering all of the trouble I had to go through to reach the end. I’m still disappointed I couldn’t stay with the first class and graduate on December 4th of last year, but I suppose it doesn’t matter now. At the same time, the only work experience I have is in retail and I truly fear I can’t do anything else.

Retail is difficult in that it’s tedious, repetitive, and draining, the latter especially if you’re an introvert. However, the jobs themselves – at least, my positions – are relatively easy. As a cashier, I stand in one spot, push buttons on a computer, scan barcodes, take money, and put the stuff in bags. The end. As a floor associate, the job description is less “fancy” than that: clean the floor and racks, and put merchandise back. You could teach a child how to do these jobs. Yet, even retail can prove to have its challenge because when I had full-time position for a few months, I ultimately failed because the workload crushed me like a 1,000-pound weight. And I wouldn’t try to get into the hell above that. I’ve yet to meet a manager who likes their job (“Don’t do it! It’s a trap!”), including my own. Two of my managers felt the need to lecture me about all the insanity and stress managers puts up with, and I get the point! Of course, that brings into question why they chose it. One of those two implied he doesn’t think lower employees/associates have the right to feel stressed because of what managers deal with. That’s another reason to stay away from management. I prefer not to look down on people. But I digress.

What I’m trying to say is if I can’t keep with a retail job unless it’s part-time, how on Earth could I do anything else? I’ve heard of people getting very close to graduation, only to quit weeks or days before, and I think I’m beginning to understand why. Taking classes on the subject is not the same as doing the real job. Even interviews are different. As far as I can tell, I ultimately got hired at the stores I worked at because I faked being cute, cheerful, and my awkwardness didn’t scare anyone off. That doesn’t work in interviews for what I’m studying, and having trouble talking will likely mean I bomb over a dozen interviews, if I get any at all. And yes, I do practice. Again, practice and the real thing aren’t the same.

Of course, all of this anxiety is irrelevant if I fail this final class, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. I should pass before I talk anymore.

The Point of No Return

I paid off the remainder of my school balance. I wasn’t planning to pay it off all at once, but another round of loans was added and it brought the balance down so low, I figured I may as well just get it over with. However, I’m now almost $10,000 in debt for student loans.

If I had any thoughts of quitting, that would’ve shattered them. At the same time, it reignites my anxiety about school as a whole.

The point of putting myself through all of this is having a job in this field, so I’ll no longer be dependent on retail and can finally move toward being financially independent. But what if that does not happen? My school is having a career fair in a few days and, despite being told some employers will wait on a student to finish their schooling, that sounds too good to be true. What if no one is interested in my resume? Or I fail an interview? In fact, interviewing is my worst fear in regards to getting a job because I am terrible at speaking. I struggle to verbally say what I mentally want to, even when I know what I’m talking about, and the result is I trip over my words. I am already at a disadvantage because I do not have a business suit and while my school does let students borrow one, it depends on what’s available from donations. They do not have business suits collecting dust in a closet, waiting to hand them out. I’m genuinely worried that alone will kill first impressions of me.

There is no point in quitting school at this point, but if my worst fear is realized – zero change in how employable I am, and being qualified for nothing beyond retail – making all this stress and debt to have been for absolutely nothing, I think I will finally give up on life. I won’t say I’ll kill myself (maybe not right then…), but I won’t have the will to try anymore and I don’t see what good I can contribute to society as a burden who can’t do more than ring a cash register.

The anxiety over so much time, effort, and money being sunk into school being worthless and being crushed by a mountain of debt I would’ve foolishly acquired genuinely made me feel physically sick some time ago. And no, yelling “it will be worth it” is not of any help because nobody knows that, including myself. I don’t know if it will be worth it any more than anyone else does. Only time can tell me if it will be worth it and, were I religious, I’m almost certain I’d be praying every night time was on my side. Even as I type this post, I genuinely feel myself wanting to break because I want that badly for everything to have been worth it. If only wanting something guaranteed you get it (I want to be 14 years old again for the youthful appearance, but that’s not happening).

Yep. This is a perfect representation of my face 95% of the time.

Hope Is Wasted On The Hopeless

In three days, I return to school. After all of the nonsense that happened, I should be happy to return, especially since I don’t have to pay as much as I initially did. The key word in that sentence is should.

I should be happy. But I’m not.

To pay off what financial aid did not cover, I have to make monthly payments, the first of which was due on the day I start school. Unfortunately, the time between receiving that balance and its due date were too close. While I have savings for this kind of expense, I’d rather not use it if I can help it. The result was I split the payment between my most recent paycheck and one of my credit cards.

I can pay the credit card off. There’ll be interest, but what that will amount to is barely a pinch in comparison. At the same time, this is the first instance I’ve put a large purchase on one of my credit cards. And since I’m still paying off a medical expense, it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. There was no option I wanted to do.

I’m not happy. I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m afraid. I’m frustrated.

The looming question in my mind, the one that stands over me like a collapsing tower, is: Is it worth it?

I have to hope it is, but debt, however necessary it may be, is never fun to owe. Putting any part of the payment on my credit card was a one-time thing. That I had to do it to begin with makes me hope completing this school is worthwhile, but fear more and more it won’t be. Excitement and fear are not two emotions that can mix within me. One kicks the other out, and in this case, fear has sent excitement packing. I feel unnatural as it is, being someone who’s just starting school while everyone else is graduating (two of my friends from high school graduated with their bachelor’s – one in chemical engineering, the other in psychology – just days ago), so more than anything, I want my time and money toward this school to prove to be worth the debt. Worth the stress, the tiredness, the temporary smacks to my credit score. But, admittedly, mostly worth the debt.

I won’t know if it’s worth it until the end. I have to hope it is. I have to believe it will be.

But I don’t know if I can!

Got Credit?

Things I need to do: stop talking. Too bad the chances of that are nil.

Almost a year ago, I mentioned I never want to have credit because, from the perspectives I got of many cardholders and reviews, it was overall a trap. Can I go back and slap myself now?

Okay, I still am cautious, but it turns out credit cards and debts aren’t so scary if you can manage them. Currently, I have a total of three credit cards and a limit across all three of $2,700. I only planned on one, but I was attracted to the second for its cashback reward and the third is a medical credit card, which is immensely helpful and allowed me to get the new eyeglasses I very much needed. I stick with the advice of spending less than 10% and several months of on-time payments with the first card was rewarded with an increase in my credit limit for that card. Before I attained the third card, my credit score read over 700, into the “good” zone, and I was very proud of that. The debt for my eyeglasses caused it to tank by a lot, but I’ve been assured it will climb again after I pay that debt off, which I have been doing steadily since. Thankfully, my job pays me enough to let me pay four times the monthly minimum payment so I can avoid interest after six months. With the other two cards, I pay off the balance in full every month.

Having just one credit card proved to be more helpful than I expected. It allowed me to pay for something I may have needed right then, but not have to pay with my own cash until I got my paycheck. That’s not to say I use my credit cards just for the heck of it, but they are used for small purchases like train tickets or a small snack to hold me over at work. The only “big” purchase I really use one card for is my cell phone bill, and I didn’t do that until I got the increased limit on the first card to avoid spending more than 10% of its limit. I don’t forget credit must be paid back!

I’ve had credit offers come through mail and email since I got my first card, and the offers have only increased since then. It’s gotten to the point I get at least one credit offer every week, some from the same companies I’ve already said no to. I just cut them them and throw them in the trash. I’d think the debt I have and my score tanking would decrease the amount of offers, but it seems like I’m now getting them simply because I have a pulse. One was even a pre-paid debit card, and it was not a sample card! It wasn’t activated, however, so I was able to discard it without consequence. Why the heck would I load a debit card with my own money when I could just use the one I already have from my bank that’s connected to an account with my money?

My experience does make me curious about one thing: how do people get in over heads with credit card debt? Barring medical and other unforeseen necessary expenses, and the company screwing you over (I’m not ignorant; I know some companies suck), it seems like credit card debt is the easiest debt to avoid. Yet, I’ve read of people being thousands of dollars in credit card debt, as high as $100,000 in one anecdote I read. I can’t even spend $100 in a week unless it’s for bills. I remember when I saw my first card’s limit increased and my immediate thought was, “What the heck am I going to spend that much money on?!” Of course, my viewpoints aren’t universal, but the point is reading of people in huge amounts of credit card debt that is not medical or other unforeseen expenses leaves me stunned.

I certainly don’t plan to acquire debt just because I know I can pay it off. I love not owing money to anyone! I cannot wait until my eyeglasses are paid off and the balance on my medical credit card reads zero. I could’ve paid it off with my savings, but I figured it’s better not to wipe out my savings account.

I have no regrets about getting a credit card. In fact, increasing my credit score is what let me get that medical credit card. I applied for it two years prior and was rejected because my score was awful. I had no idea it came with such a huge limit, but since it covered the whole cost of my eyeglasses, along with insurance, I’m very grateful. And yes, I know better than to max out my credit  cards! Not something I want to do anyway since, again, that money must be paid back! I also don’t plan to have a lot of credit cards. I do know a high limit of credit is good for your score, but I’m not someone who needs a lot of credit.  Then again, maybe I do to stay under 10% of my total limit.

I’m Scared

There. I said it.

What am I scared of? A lot of things, but this in particular.

I’ve been struggling so much about what to do regarding college and reading things like this only confirms my fears.

Science-related subjects are considered to be the most lucrative careers that exist.  I’ve never heard anyone speak lowly of pursuing these degrees and, in my experience, you’re told you’ll always have a job because they’re in high demand. When people say they got college degrees and still can’t find work or are stuck in dead-end jobs, it’s typically assumed they got a “useless” degree, such as something in art, philosophy, or gender studies.

This just tells me you can work hard and still not get anywhere. It seems like it doesn’t even matter. I already fear returning to college for a degree and ending up right back where I started, but what I want to major in is art-related. To go for something in STEM and still end up right back where I started? I’d kick myself for the rest of my life.

On top of that, I’ve been told there are many different paths to success, but I can only find three. Go to college, go to trade school, or find a job and work your way up. I’ve heard of trade school being more profitable than college, especially because you’re not saddled with debt for an extremely long time, but I can’t think of a single trade I’d be capable of. If web design or art/animation were a trade, I’d go for one of those, but unfortunately, they’re not. I’ve also heard, unlike college, you cannot get financial assistance for trade school. You have to pay for it out of your own pocket. I’m still unemployed, so that’s not possible. My only option is finding a job, which I am having a very hard time with.

The only thing I’m sure of right now is that I am a terrible adult. I cannot figure anything out. I’ve been an adult for three years now and I still have no clue how to be one. I’m already upset that I can’t avoid debt, meaning I will owe someone or something money for as long as I live, and I’m honestly afraid I am always going to be in this position. If I end up going back to school, I want that venture to pay off. Not to throw shots at anyone, but I do not want to end up like my mother, going back to school multiple times in an attempt to better my life and getting nowhere except into more debt.

It’s terrifying and I know adults are supposed to do everything themselves (pretty much the point of being an adult), but I wish I had someone to guide me through all of this and help me get somewhere. I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing or how I’m going to get myself anywhere except where I’m already at. I know what I want. I can’t figure out how to get it. I wish adulthood came with a manual for these situations.

Really, all I want is not to be so useless. Clearly, I’m not doing that well.