Many people claim that poor people “have it easy”. However, what is easy about going home to your family and telling them that you are now unemployed? What is easy about having to tell your child that they might not have food on the table every night? What is easy about having to leave our home and possibly uproot your family so you can move into more affordable housing?
The answer is absolutely nothing.
I am a 17-year-old girl and I consider my family to be poor. My dad is unemployed due to his current medical state, he is paralyzed on his left side due to a stroke. My mom gets paid bi-weekly and most of her monthly paycheck goes to rent and bills. I work 17 hours and get paid $9 an hour. After taxes, I get paid around $135. My paycheck either goes to buying us food or buying us Ubers since we do not drive.
There is nothing easy about going to school and telling my friends that I ate a big breakfast so they don’t notice that I have stopped buying food. There is nothing easy about coming home and telling my mom that I ate lunch so she doesn’t feel like a bad mother. There is nothing easy about working at a pizza shop and pretending that I’m not craving every single thing we make.
Coming home to your family knowing that you have nothing to give them to eat is not easy. Giving up certain things, such as buying groceries, to be able to pay rent is not easy. Choosing whether having a roof over your head or having food is more important is not easy. Knowing that your child is growing up too fast due to your family’s financial situation is not easy.
Being poor is not easy, it is hard. It drains you physically and mentally. It forces a 15-year-old girl to get a job so her family can stay afloat. It causes a mother to worry about if her family is getting proper nutrition. People who say that poor people “have it easy”, have never been poor because if they had been, they would know that there is nothing easy about it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.