I've noticed that life hands you these little challenges. Trials, errors, tests that follow you as you try to find the path of least resistance.
I am the type of person you might find walking in front of oncoming traffic as if to test the hands of fate. "If I'm lucky today, I'll survive."
Darting across a crowded street, a thought passes in my brain: Woah...do I need to be paying back my student loans now?
Whether we realize it or not, humanity is actually trained to exist this way.
For instance, we do a lot of things at the last minute. We test the boundaries of what is acceptable, or reasonable. We test whether we're going to be delinquent on our credit card payments, or just not pay them at all. We love facing little challenges that could be avoided if we just paid more attention.
Why? Because humans are natural thrill seekers. In fact, all beings are thrill seekers.
I spent a lot of my morning splitting time between my obligations and looking into my student loan payments, like a good little college graduate. You sell your future to get one, and that's just how it is in America, I guess.
So, I made the mistake of finding out the exact number of dollars I owed to the federal government. Because the more dangerous option, would be to live in complete ignorance of that fact. A glimmering thought in the back of your head knows, "You've got at least 20 thousand dollars of debt out there...possibly more. Just...somewhere."
You can think abstractly about these kinds of things: payments, debts, loans, forgiveness, whatever. But until you can look at that number on a screen and actually come to terms with those little numbers that carve such a devastating cut into your life...you never really feel the burn. The thrill of that, of knowing just how much you fucked up by simply "doing what you were supposed to do, by going to college" is alarming. Alarming that even the best decisions come with major consequences.
Back in the day you could just say your bill got "lost in the mail" but now, everything is tied to your social security number, your email. Your life hangs on a string tied to the information super-highway. You can't run, you can't hide, and you can't avoid paying, or they'll make it impossible for you to get a house, or a car, or lead any kind of respectable existence.
With all that considered, as adulthood continuously slaps me in the face, I realized that I had to start somewhere. Look up the payments. And bite the bullet. What's the worst that could happen? It's not like the federal government is a mob, knocking on doors with .38 Specials, shaking down twenty-somethings with a barrel to their chests right?
The safest thing I could have done, would have been to log out of that screen, you know the "FedLoan.gov" site? Where there's a banner image displaying some friendly pinecones and holly, "Happy Holidays from the people and the government that HAS to gut you for all you're worth. We take your future so you can have one."
That's what it should actually say, in big, black letters. No red and green in sight, it's insulting.
Anyway, I kept clicking, and clicking and clicking, until I saw the most frightening thing I think I'll ever see:
Now, abstractly, it doesn't seem like a lot. A year's salary perhaps? A car perhaps? But when you factor in the payment plan, which includes that little devil known as interest...you're looking at:
The amount of extra money being poached by the banks is incredible, more than double. If you want to start paying 200 dollars a month, which is too much to sustain on an entry level salary, well...you're screwed. You'll pay double. Why? Because you decided to go to college, and it's a business.
No amount of education is worth double what you agreed to pay right? Even if you were studying under Aristotle...you wouldn't pay that much right? Since you agreed to pay Aristotle 37,000 dollars, you wouldn't pay him 87 right?
Just doesn't make sense.
So, the banks are coming to slit my throat because I wanted an education. The sad truth is, there's nothing I can do about this, except let the money slip away. And each year, as I become poorer and poorer, I'll wonder why I did it. Why I knowingly let these fiends into my bank account and my life.
Sometimes I wish I had dropped out.
You know, 40 years ago you could go to school, graduate, and you know, have a nice little life. A house and a car. You could have some savings, go out for dinner every once in a while. Enjoy your life.
Now, you get out of school with 40K in debt, and there's no job to have. Nobody will hire because you're too young, and you have no experience. But how can you get experience if nobody hires you.
The jobs you do get, aren't paying more than your debt is worth...so you just bleed for a while like roadkill. People whose parents paid every cent drive by, and the smell of your rotting bank account doesn't even phase them. For their life is poised to begin. While you play catch up until you're old and gray, possibly paying your student loans as your kids ready for college.
Thrill seekers. That's what we are. That's why we signed the promisory notes, and the financial aid documents. That's why we went to school, because we were chasing something, an education, a future, some friends.
We wanted the thrill of saying, "I went to college." It implies status. Hope.
Sometimes I wonder if they'd take a body part: an arm or a leg? Those sell for thousands of dollars on the black market, or so I hear. I mean...gotta be worth at least 10K, that's a pretty good deal. I'd be an amputee for the rest of my life, but at least I'd make a dent. And those pesky emails and phone calls, relentless in nature, would end. Right? Right? Take notes people.
Do I have to pull a Jesse Pinkman and get some of my buddies from the Chemistry School to make some pure drugs to sell? What's the market value of methamphetamine anyway? Gotta count for inflation.
I'm not sure, all are viable options though. When hit in the face with that number, your mind goes everywhere.
Even though we knew the risks involved. We ran into oncoming traffic and said, "I'll deal with it in four years."
I'm not saying it wasn't worth it. It WAS. The thrill was worth it. It's just cold. A dead serious effect of today's day and age. Nothing is changing. Scores of people will do this again. Why? Because we're thrill seekers.The thrill of the pursuit of knowledge outweighed the debt.