I feel guilty buying groceries now.
Even when I can afford them.
Even when I’m buying protein to make me less hungry on days I do housecleaning.
Which is totally legitimate and dare I say necessary to my health and well-being.
I kept looking at the food in my shopping cart and thinking about what I ought to put back.
Because I had so much food in my cupboards already, and I should eat that first, right?
(My cupboard is seriously fuller than it has been in months.)
And I keep doing the math over and over, reminding myself that I’m fine financially, and that I can even buy this pumpkin ice cream and still pay my bills this month.
I ended up rationalizing to myself that I was buying food now so that I would still have some later, even if the money runs out (which I don’t see happening in the immediate future, but who knows?)
It’s so strange still, being able to cook whatever I want.
For so long, I’ve been figuring out what I could make out of what I already have.
I could maybe buy one ingredient or two, tops, depending on what they were.
But now, even if I only have half the ingredients for a recipe, I can still make it because I can just go to the store.
I’m really feeling my privilege right now.
I was really struggling financially for the past 8 months since I quit my “grown-up” 40-hr a week job to work a couple more reasonable part-time jobs.
But how many people are stuck with those two too close to minimum wage part-time jobs like I had and can’t find a way out?
Would people pay me as much to clean their houses if I wasn’t a nice-looking white girl?
How many people also have to feed kids instead of just themselves on too little money?
I’ve read a lot about class, and I’ve never been wealthy, but I’ve also never been as poor as I was recently until… well, I was.
A friend told me that even being able to buy groceries okay but being 1 to 2 paychecks away from dire straights is really working class, but culture likes to let us believe it’s middle class.
So I’m still working class.
Or I’m working class again.
But for 8 terrifying months, I was really poor. Like, not sure how to pay my rent and feed myself for the first two weeks of the month poor. I’m getting half my food free and can barely afford the other half poor.
And there’s no guarantee this house cleaning will last.
So I’m okay now, but once I pay off my credit card I’m going to funnel what I can into savings just in case.
But how quickly my brain adapted to scarcity mode is almost frightening in a way.
Some people live their whole lives there.
And that’s not okay.
No one should ever be seriously worried about where their next meal is coming from, or two paychecks away from homeless.
But it happens far too often.
Hopefully in the next month or so, I can calm the part of my brain that tells me I can’t afford more than the bare necessities down.
It’s not like I’m going crazy. I was just buying some bacon and frozen fish fillets.
But there’s something about having a full freezer and full pantry that feels really decadent right now.
I just have to remind myself I’m not being selfish.
And I wish that wasn’t so hard.
It should be okay to buy pumpkin ice cream.