The last time I traveled back to my hometown in California, I did the usual of inviting old friends to Friday night dinner. These are friends who I’ve known from either junior high, high school, or college. When I sent out the email request to said friends, I already knew the kind of response I would get from one of them.
Lashawn: Girl, I’m so broke this month. I can’t make dinner but I would love to see you. When are you leaving town?
You’d think from this brief piece of information I’m sharing with you that Lashawn just didn’t care to see me. Well, it’s not so simple. Lashawn is actually one of the most sweetest and encouraging friends in my life. Although we don’t talk all the time, she takes the initiative when reaching out, never misses a birthday, and always checks up on me when she knows I’ve been going through some stuff. We met in junior high and I had always felt proud to have her in my circle of friends…until I realized that she may never grow up.
It’s been ten years since we graduated college and Lashawn’s situation definitely reinforces the meaning behind the saying “you are what you believe you are.” For Lashawn, that belief is that one of being perpetually broke.
Do you have a friend like this? A friend that never seems not to be broke. Who seems to be too comfortable with the idea of not spending a dime more than they have to? Who won’t go out for a drink unless it involves happy hour?
It’s draining to say the least, because it’s not about her personal finances; it’s about the poverty that she believes herself to be in. Lashawn has always worked a decent job, has always lived at home, and has never been stupid with her spending. In other words, I know she is not broke; it’s just that she’s married to the image of her being broke. It’s kept her from so many great things that her friends (even those who have far less) have had the chance to experience, like travel.
Although I questioned Lashawn’s approach to life, she swore to me that she had various random bills that kept her from being financially stable enough to do everything she’s wanted to do. It’s her defense, of course.
During my last trip, I did finally tell her that it was rude of her not to go out to a meal considering that I came to town three times per year. She did go out to dinners once in a while after all. Who knows? Maybe she didn’t want to run the risk of splitting tax and tip with four other people.
I understand people playing the “broke” card in their early twenties but at a certain point in life, one has to manage her finances without crying broke every time a social outing comes up. It’s especially hard when you see someone with so much potential and so full of life shortchange herself with these lame expectations of her life. As long as Lashawn has been talking about taking her dream trip to Paris, it still hasn’t happened. Although buying a plane ticket to Paris is as easy as saving part of two month’s pay, she can’t seem to understand she’s deserving of something so great.
What would it do for her life if she just changed the way she saw herself? It would change immensely. Sadly, she still can’t see that despite all the examples of friends and colleagues exemplifying otherwise.
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