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Monday, 26 November 2012

The cringeworthyness of the newly extremely poor

Yesterday I posted a blog on the cringeworthyness of the newly extremely wealthy. Today I was thinking of the disadvantages of being newly extremely poor - the opposite.

The reason I am thinking about this is because I know someone who has fallen on hard times. And I bet there are many in the current economic climate in the same position. 

In the United Kingdom, hard times means asking the state for assistance. This is awfully humiliating. One has to expose to the State all the details of your life, financial in-comings, outgoings, housing, health, relationships, life style. The action of doing this to a private person who has managed their life adequately previously eats into self esteem.

Small events become large. The discomfort of planning a meal for more than your own family, stops initial socialising until your friends and family discover the truth - that you no longer can afford it. You turn down invitations to join friends at the movies or other outings, because you cannot pay your way. Other people's birthdays and gifts for celebrations become secret burdens. Lightheartedness leaves you.

You computate the cost of the smallest things. You have to choose this thing over that thing, practicality over luxuary.

When the truth emerges that you are in financial trouble, your self esteem is challenged with "gifts" of clothing, food and offers of loans from those who you might feel are only "sorry for you". If you have a stable self respect, you might accept these offerings as "love and friendship".  You might feel unsure how to handle this - you know they make you feel uncomfortable - guilty and beholden.

Every application for a job interview, become a total life focus of hope, disappointment and hurt. It is necessary to not dress yourself in the clothing of depression, poverty and hopelessness and to wear a fake outfit of all the qualities you know your possible employer requires. If you are lucky, you will find the work you want before you have to sell your assets. The worry is emotionally crippling.
Being newly extremely poor, is deeply stressful. And our society, often views it as a place of non-success and shame. Yet it can incubate deep wisdom, empathy, gratitude, fortitude and courage in those who go through it.

The lack of money is a leaden cage - a horrible trap.  For the newly extremely poor, I hope it is a temporary one from which they can find themselves quickly freed.