There are times when I think about what people will think once this loan repayment journey is over. The most likely truth is that most of my journey will be forgotten. All of the middle ground where the suffering happened will be overshadowed by the end result. The happy ending will supersede all. As humans, it is natural to only remember the beginning and the end as we take away the life lesson but forget the mundane events of the everyday.
It makes me sad to think that they’ll look at what we’ve done in paying back $575k in student debt and immediately assume that the going was easy.
Explanations will arise, however inaccurate, that dismiss the difficulty of the task, as people say things such as, “Well, she was a dentist and made a lot of money. Of course it was doable.”
Excuses from colleagues about why it wouldn’t work for them will also ensue. “She had a husband who also made decent income”, “She was fortunate enough to have a bakery that took off”, and “She had her writing to help support such a hefty loan repayment.”
It makes me sad because if that were the case, if everyone forgot the effort, then this would be for naught. People will continue to believe that paying back debt is an unreachable goal. People will still avoid pursuing financial freedom, viewing it as attainable only to those who have luck on their side, or to those who have more than.
But none of that is true.
They say that it would be difficult to pay back debt if it is more than twice your income. Well, mine was almost quadruple my income. But I still pushed myself to do it.
I want people to know that my success will not be a result of me making TONS of money relative to my loans.
It will be because of penny-pinching habits, mindfulness, diligence, and hard work.
I want people to know that any success I have will not be because of sheer luck.
It will be because of a constant refining of the self, a vigilant search for the essentials, and a questioning of the status quo.
I hope people remember that it wasn’t easy. I have days I never speak of, spent curled up in a ball on the floor, my hand in fists, my eyes flooding with tears. There were moments full of self-doubt around both my abilities and my choices. Days when I felt lonely because I worked so much. Days my back hurt from doing dentistry and my shoulders hurt lifting cast iron lodge pans. I have burn marks on my arms and bags under my eyes. It isn’t easy, but it’s a meaningful life, and I want people to remember that.
Maybe then, it would help push them through the tough times when they are most ready to quit.
I was ready to quit, too. Hundreds of times.
This story will never be told as widespread as other stories, because it is not an overnight success. The tabloids, the news, the audience … none of them want to hear about mundane action. But it is mundane action that will make ordinary people do extraordinary things. It’s a shame because, well, the non-telling of my story will mean that Regular Joe’s will never reach their potential to be super-heroes. Students will continue to carry debt. Society will continue on with their life-cycle.
The younger a person hears a story about personal finance, the easier it is to reach financial freedom. In much the same way, the sooner a person with student debt is convinced of their ability to pay it back, the more money they save. Every day that they wait to refinance is a day wasted and a few dollars lost in interest. Every day a person debates about whether they can dig out of debt, they dig themselves a bigger ditch.
A water carves its way into solid rock, and over-time, forms the rock into an easier pathway.
This is how I want to transform people.
I am no SuperWoman.
I am so very ordinary.
If there is one thing people remember about me and my story, I hope it is that.