Low income kids look like you


My friend and her family live in a small apartment whose previous inhabitants let mold grow so thick even after multiple rounds of bleach they still can’t get the stains out.

She is also complimented on her trendy outfits and designer bags, and was once asked if she was rich.

Sometimes people forget that just because we’re not hobbling through the streets, wearing filthy clothing and begging for change doesn’t mean that this fact can’t be a fact. Well, surprise! Low-income students can look just like you, and our lives are just as real as yours. Just look at me.

I am low-income, and I live in Granite Bay in a house worth half a million dollars in a gated community. And I am low-income.

I am low-income, and I can’t pay for college. My friends know my situation. They frequently discuss how they’re glad their parents are bankrolling college for them because they can’t imagine not being able to afford the exorbitant fees. And I am low-income.

I am low-income, and every single time I go shopping, I have to cross-reference prices from Walmart all the way to Trader Joe’s, because sometimes the item I’m looking for will be cheaper at name brand stores and I wouldn’t want to put my family under even more duress under the weight of the extra cent it costs to keep me alive. And sometimes, the people I shop with will comment on my excessive frugality, and I will just smile. And I am low-income.

 I am low-income, and I sit on a board with millionaires to determine who out of all these people deserves our board’s scholarship. And sometimes, after reading an applicant’s especially difficult financial situation, a board member will frown, turn to me, and say, “I think they’re playing the low-income card a little too much.” And I am low-income.

I am low-income, and I am stressed during college application season because I have no family members who went to college in America and I need to teach myself how to navigate the college application process and I need to apply for a thousand and one scholarships, and my friends will come up to me and try to start drama about how I hurt their feelings a year ago the week before I take the SAT subject tests. And I am low-income.

 In a capitalistic society where money = happiness, where do low-income people lie? Are we the most miserable of the miserable? Do we just not exist at all?

Although yes, it is possible that money = happiness, that equation doesn’t always run true in reverse. Sometimes, with good deals and a little creative magic, you can replicate the same feeling you’re grasping at by purchasing all these things. In most surface-level cases, the end result is the same.

Can you really tell how much you spent to get there? Just look at me.