If I were to name the dominant emotion I feel around my money woes, it would have to be shame. I’ve run the gamut through fear, stress, anxiety, panic, resentment—but it’s the shame that’s stayed with me.
I remember hanging out with friends one night when I was 24, and the topic of student loans came up. One of the guys there mentioned his loan debt and how he would have it paid off in a few years. He and his girlfriend began talking about how they were already saving for their future children, even though they were years away from being ready to have them.
As the conversation turned increasingly to money topics, my cheeks burned with shame and my stomach knotted in anxiety. I’m never going to be able to pay off my student loans. I can never afford to have kids. I would die if everyone found out how much debt I’m in. They would lose all respect for me.