Take my hand, because we’re about to go there.
We all got ‘em. (Well, not all, but most.) But we don’t want to talk about them. We’ll make jokes about them on Twitter, but we won’t actually talk about them.
The world (cough, especially The U.S.A) is going through a financial crisis. Post-secondary education costs are higher than ever, and, coincidentally, loans are stupidly simple to get. Having an immense amount of debt in your twenties has become the norm. I’m no rocket scientist, but that sounds like a problem to me. Some might call it a trap. But that’s not what this pep-talk is about.
This is about soothing your anxieties around one of the most anxiety-inducing topics ever. So let’s dive into it.
If you have student loans, you need to accept that fact. Complaining or letting it confine you won’t get you anywhere.
I once got to talking about student loans with a gentleman on a Tinder date. I was telling him about how I was terrified to take out a loan to finance the rest of my education because it would limit me after graduation. Now, let’s just say that he was significantly older than me (no shame), so he was able to offer some perspective from his own experience.
He asked me why I was afraid to invest in my own potential to learn and grow, and I was caught in my tracks without a good answer. Especially because that was the only interesting or thought-provoking thing he had said to me so far. And because he was right. When you really think about it, financing an education is essentially an investment in yourself.
In that frame of mind, the challenge of paying off student loans is more like a fire lit under your a$$ than a burden. It’s time to walk the walk and put your money where your mouth is.
Burn the victim card.
Regardless of how we got here you, are not a victim! You made a conscious choice to borrow money with the knowledge that it would one day need to be paid back. Now climb to the nearest rooftop for me and shout to the heavens, “I AM NOT A VICTIM!” Feel better? Feel a little foolish? Good.
The victim mentality never brought success to anyone. It only makes you feel even more stuck and prolongs the process of making progress.
But most importantly, allow yourself the space to have whatever thoughts occur naturally. It is totally okay to feel scared. Listen to yourself, then learn how to re-frame these thoughts into productive affirmations.
Here’s an example. A common thought might be, “I can’t do/go to/be/make __________ until after my gazillion dollars of loans are paid off. If that will ever happen.” This is the part where Tyra Banks loses her cool and yells at a girl like she never has before.
We were all rooting for you!!
Tyra would then proceed to correct you. Your loans are not a gazillion dollars. They are $45,000. And there will come a day when they are paid off. Until then, you can do anything you want, aided by the education that you believed in yourself enough to pursue!
Develop a productive money mindset.
A lot of us are afraid of money. We think that it wasn’t meant for us.
The same goes for any hot topic: love, success, friendship, funky hats. If you don’t believe yourself worthy of something, you will never achieve it. So if you ever feel your stomach drop when checking your bank account or feel like you are dropping a part of yourself into the mailbox when you send out a student loan check, do yourself a favor.
Remind yourself that money is something that has been given far more value than it’s worth. Take a good look at your relationship with it and see what needs changing. And do your research! Learning about how others perceive money can pop your little bubble and open your mind to new, more helpful outlooks. Some recommended reading on this topic is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (classic) and You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero (hilarious & real).
Make plans, boo!
Now that we’ve given it some good, hard thought, it’s time to get to work. Set intentions and get your goals in motion. If you want to book that flight, then just book it!
Believe it or not, it will end. There will come a day when your education is paid for, even if that is not something you can imagine right now. And until that day, let it give you fuel instead of fear.
No time is ever wasted, only lessons learned. Some lessons are just more expensive than others…
And some lessons are a process of elimination – learning what you don’t want/enjoy/need. Regardless, you are better off with this knowledge.
Now take a deep breath… and Venmo me for last night’s dinner already!