NauenThen

Pet peeve VI: Broke is broke—poor is something else

February 19, 2015

Tags: pet peeve

When I was in my 20s I often said I was poor. After all, I was living on $15 a week, hitchhiking everywhere, eating abandoned commodity foods like kasha & powdered milk. I wasn't complaining: I loved getting by on very little, the feeling that my needs would always be met because they were so moderate.

And then I realized that I wasn't poor. I was broke, but I wasn't poor. The difference?

Poor is permanent, or really hard to escape. Poor is hopeless. Poor is not having the luxury to forgo government assistance no matter how much indignity they heap on you to get it. I was passing through poor. I had access to money, even if I had no intention of asking, & so I wasn't poor.

Many or most of us are short on funds in our 20s—we're in school, we're bumming around, we don't have careers or decent jobs. Yet. My friends & I believed we were downwardly mobile but we ended up somewhere in the middle class. We weren't poor.