Friday, April 13, 2007

College student gets evicted

Sounds pretty tragic and unfair, huh? ...putting a college student out on the street a month before school ends.

But it's a life lesson...and one I'd rather she learn now than once she gets out of college and has no cushion.

There are choices my friend made that got her in this situation. 1) She chose an expensive college. 2) She chose to "loan" LOTS of money (received from extra scholarship money) to friends and family that don't have jobs...money that could be used to begin paying off student loans...or paying her rent. 3) She chose to work one job last summer (despite my urging and insistence that she get a second job to save for school and begin paying back her loans).

When I got the phone call, my first thought was to figure out a way to get the money...withdraw savings, call up friends who know and love her, etc. But I knew that would not help her. Too many times I have supported her through decisions that I knew were not the best choice for her. I couldn't do it again. It's not going to help her in the long run. But, frankly, it would have been easier and a lot less painful for me to somehow come up with the two months rent she needed than it was to tell her, "I can't help you."

I think back to the life lessons my parents taught me. One of my favorites to recall is my freshman year in college. My parents were giving me an "allowance" (something small like $20/mo, but they paid for my college so whatever they gave me was extra spending money). My mom informed me at the end of my freshman year I would need to find a job because they weren't going to provide that "allowance" any more. I remember thinking, "Yeah right. They'll still come through. They're my parents!" Boy was I surprised! ...and a little irritated. I couldn't believe they actually stuck to that! But they did. And I'm extremely grateful for that. I think that was the point where I realized that I was the one who determined my outcomes. I believe it was from that point on that I began getting 2-3 jobs in the summer so that I could have money to spend when school came along. How much or how little I made and saved was up to me. Though sometimes frustrating, it gave me a sense of freedom. I determined my own destiny!

Money is an easy solution. Just pay the bill and move on. It doesn't require any emotional investment. But does that really help the person?

Sometimes we have to experience the pain and face the consequences life deals us before the reality sets in that someone is not always going to rescue us. It's hard watching someone fall and hoping they understand the life-lesson so that they won't get themselves in that situation again.

My friend knows I'm here. She's not going to be on the street; she's a survivor. I've watched her grow up and I know how her mind works. The poverty she grew up in has given her survival instincts. She'll make it through the last month of school. It may be on someone's couch. But she'll be all right.

She does not like asking people for things. But what I don't think she realizes yet is that she doesn't have to...if she makes wise choices. My hope is that through this experience she will discover that freedom.
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