The Struggling Student Rants—Mid-COVID Money Woes

I don’t do sappy.  However, the world around us has changed.  Everyone seems isolated—more so than before—and I feel like the majority of the planet has no grip on reality.  We all scroll through hundreds of social media posts, from real and imaginary friends, claiming if anyone needs to talk they should reach out.  But we all know that that’s much easier said than done.  Don’t be fooled by the hype.

Sometimes, social media is great for connecting, zoning out, or being entertained.  Other days, however, all of these fake posts can get you down and make it seem like everyone else has their ducks in a row, their poop in a scoop—except you.  And now, when literally no one on this planet knows what’s going to happen next, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Instagram has always had an endless supply of photoshopped posts, showing how so-and-so is living their best life, and, somehow, even though they lost their job, they still are.  Facebook seems to be the nesting ground for all things MLM and virtual Tupperware parties—more so than normal times.  Everyone has joined “business support groups”’ to promote their neighbour’s business.  There are days when I feel like Scrooge McDuck because I keep declining the offer for $100 Scentsy bars.  I would rather my family eat the apples than smell the apples.  Pinterest… well, they’re just carrying on with Holiday Decor for Under $20 hoping no one will fully grasp what’s going on.  The people posting these are either trust-fund-babies or out of their mind.

But let’s all be real for a moment here.  I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that writing for The Voice Magazine, sending out good money vibes, or talking about personal finance all day, every day, does not, by any means, equate with my financial ducks being in any sort of row.  Nothing could be further from the truth and I apologize if I’ve added to anyone’s anxiety by writing about tips and tricks or talking finance and streams of income.  The truth is, we are all messed up in our own special way, without having the world come to a halt.  Everyone struggles out there on a good day, and I mean everyone.  If anyone argues this and says they’re sailing through all of this, they’re lying—either to you or to themselves.  Even Queen Elizabeth, the richest old lady I can think of, is worse off than she was pre-COVID.

Add a sprinkle of unemployment to the mix, a dash of a breathtaking virus, a whole lot of global unrest, and you’ve got yourself a cleaned out wallet.  All of this can, of course, be served with your choice of side: nonstop migraines, nervousness, restlessness, feelings of impending danger, hyperventilating, increased heart rate—take your pick.  If you find yourself struggling financially, waking up in the middle of the night, or trying to figure out how to climb up Alice’s rabbit hole please don’t give up hope and know that you’re not alone.  Seriously.

Many of us, from all walks of life, are dealing with financial stress and uncertainty this year.  2020 has felt like a horrible episode from the original The Twilight Zone—the wallet that eats $50 notes, the paid bills that reappear in your mailbox every morning, the Girl Scout selling $10 cookies every night (or else).  Regardless of where your stress stems from, whether it’s from losing your job, escalating debt, unexpected expenses, or all of these, finances have been the most common factor everywhere I look.

Like any source of stress, this takes a huge toll on our mental health, our physical health, relationships, and all aspects of daily life.  Sleep might seem like a long-lost friend; I don’t know about you, but nothing keeps me tossing and turning like a four-figure bill quite does.  Never mind the new wardrobe (including pyjamas) because literally nothing fits.  Stress wreaks chaos on our appetites and money woes can cause you to overeat, skip meals to save money, or even turn to other coping mechanisms.  If you’re reading this and getting antsy, don’t worry, I’m not spying on you—I’m just in the same boat.  We all are.  For myself, the word “uncertainty” is going on my hate-list.  I swear if I hear one more person say “uncertain times” I may just go postal on their ass.  But it’s alright to feel uncertain.  It’s a legit feeling, as are they all.

You may feel angry, ashamed, or fearful and start picking fights with those closest to you.  I know I certainly have started doing so and some days I feel like a crazy old lady in curlers and a housecoat yelling at the youngsters driving by with their music blaring.  You may also be withdrawing from the outside world.  COVID-19 had me self-diagnosing agoraphobia through WebMD until I had to force myself to go to the grocery store.

I recently spoke to a long-time friend in the medical profession who works in a large ER unit.  She noted that COVID-19 has changed life as we know it more than we think.  But it’s definitely evident in the hospitals.  She disclosed to me that cases related to overdosing, alcohol poisoning, attempted and successful suicides, have all doubled nationwide.  However, she sarcastically noted, while the news has been focusing on the number of infections and hospitalizations from COVID-19, they’re downplaying all of the other issues that have surfaced.  Like I said, I don’t do sappy.  I do, however, believe that we all are struggling much more than we did before COVID-19 become a household name.  As The Struggling Student [that] Rants I’m not going to rant this time.  I’m simply popping in to say that no matter how hopeless things might seem—in that moment—there is always someone to help out there.  Someone to talk things through with you and maybe even help you sort things out.  You just need to make the hardest step of all—reach out and let them know you want to talk.  It truly is the hardest step, but also the most important.  AU has fantastic resources through Homewood Health for all of their students, including a 24/7 support line and options for virtual counselling sessions.

Homewood Health has also partnered up with the Government of Canada and Wellness Together Canada to provide free resources, assessments, unlimited phone counselling sessions, and many other valuable resources for all Canadians in a different platform than the service that AU provides, one that’s anonymous.  My advice is that, regardless of whether we feel we do or don’t, we should all make good use of these resources.  Because 2020 has affected us all in one way or another.  Talk to friends, neighbours, family, or even strangers.  Sometimes it can be easier to talk to someone we don’t know.  Finally, focus on what you can control rather than all the things you can’t.  I realize this is easier said than done but we all need to take things one day at a time and look towards the light at the end of the tunnel.  That light is either gonna be a glorious outcome or a train.  Either way, we’ll all find out together.