They say that you got to write the type of content that you want to see in this b*tch of an earth. This is one of those instances where I just had to whip up an article for answers I couldn’t find on Google. In my hour of need, little ol’ defeated me tried to find a cure-all for my breadwinner blues just to discover nada.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I found a couple of advice for some troubled husbands who felt unhappy about their wives’ incomes being more sizeable than their own. However, those are far from what single-and-queer me is looking for. The root of my building helplessness is trying to figure out whether my salary could possibly provide for my family with the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) back in full force and what this might forebode for my already uncertain future. I could apologize for the ultra bleak vibes I’m giving off, but I’m way past allowing myself to feel like an inconvenience to others because of my financial problems while also being self-aware about how I’m still luckier than most.
In fact, present-day me is actually comfortable enough to share with you a life update™. You can skip this part of the article if you’d like. You see, my parents have been holding out hope that looser quarantine restrictions will allow them to resume work. For privacy’s sake, let’s just say that the industries they’re working for are considered non-essential. After they got to clock in for a couple of days, we were feeling a little better. Then, the bills started coming and they didn’t stop coming (as the Smash Mouth song goes or something like that). I took a peep in those envelopes of doom and felt nauseous because, along with rent, they amounted to my entire paycheck. Hearing about the resumption of MECQ, I just wanted the ground to swallow me whole.
I never imagined and I definitely didn’t think to add on my 2020 bingo card that my family would have to depend on me this much. At 23, I’m definitely feeling the pressure, Mr. Krabs. With a lot of my peers relishing in their newfound financial independence and enjoying the fruits of coming out of another work week alive, I dread the non-payday weekends which I regard as twilight zones.
If you need some advice to help you brave the rest of the year, let me share with you a couple of my own tips for getting out of that funk. Maybe I can also convince myself that these will work.
Encourage the family to play like a real team
Licensed psychologist Dr. Gail Post writes that women (with partners) who became the sole breadwinners of the family “face the stress of earning the family paycheck, offering emotional support to a spouse who is often angry and demoralized, and containing their own frustration and resentment.”
A Medium article discussed a letter published on The Guardian about a man who anonymously wrote to his wife, “I want you to get a job so I don’t wake up in the middle of the night worrying that my career is the only one between us and financial ruin. I want you to work so our marriage can feel more like a partnership and I can feel less like your financial beast of burden.” Writer Ester Bloom surmises that the dude’s main concern was the fear of lifestyle downgrade that could be solved by making the government accountable for providing quality social services.
What am I getting at here? For the most part, we feel more vulnerable when we’re alone. The cases of these breadwinners might be different from mine but it seems we could all use a little team spirit. Remember that you shouldn’t carry the burden alone.
Encourage family members to come up with side hustles sans the snide comments. Boost their confidence if they’re waiting to hear back from their employers and offer to help them find more options. Be open about being tired when you are and when you feel like you can’t contribute to doing house chores.
Picture a future for yourself too
I recently had a chat with a friend who’s a financial advisor. Her advice for young professionals who can’t save cash because of family commitments was this: “Just like what they say when it comes to love, always leave something for yourself and don’t give everything away!”
A lot of folks in their 20s are not really interested in starting their own families anytime soon. But for breadwinners, it’s not really an option that we have even if we wanted it. My future, as I imagine it now, looks like a rope intertwined with my family’s. I can’t see past the surface of our goals as a family. While I’m proud of what I have pitched in so far, I can’t help but worry that I’m not making progress in dreams that perhaps I’ve consciously made dormant in my mind.
Maybe setting my heart on something that is more personal, even though far off, will settle me.
Do more than just survive
Most of us have been saying that we’re just trying to survive these past few months. I’m beginning to think that this might have been a wrong move.
I’m not suggesting that we should be more productive. I believe we could benefit from singing a different tune. We shouldn’t just try to survive and coast through. We should try to live. Pandemic or not, quality of life matters. Let’s actively make choices that lead to our happiness.