A Life Under Debt

My life has been a fortunate life. I can count the many blessings I have had which include positive conditions in careers, social standing, creative, analytic, and technical talents. In short, I have had great jobs, known very good people, and have had the privilege of doing great things with the gifts I possess. I see more good in life than ill, and I tend to lean towards seeing the glass half full. Even with the difficulties I have faced in recent years, I know without fail that the universe God created is a wonderful place to exist.

I do not believe all difficulties, challenges, and adversities are necessary or good developments. Regardless, even if what we struggle with today undermines our present appreciation of present circumstances and realization of life’s gifts, we can apply our mind to make good out of bad. Part of the free will that God has granted us is the ability to decide how we will mentally accept our situation. A situation can be very bad, but I have learned to try to learn from such situations.

Honestly, I would rather avoid negative conditions. I would prefer to live a really good life. Sometimes, you have no choice but exist in a bad situation. Sometimes you make the wrong choices in life which means you have no more choices about the nature of a situation. When there is no choice but to be in a bad situation, then within your own mind, you can develop a healthy way of looking at it. When you can find the lessons of a bad situation, use the opportunity to grow in a better way, that moves you from tremendous despair, fear, and perpetual self denigration to a place of greater tolerance for character frailty, lower competencies, and a range of errors in action.

My Financial Situation from 2003 – 2013

One of the bad situations I have lived with since 2003 is high debt. Over my career I have had a higher than average salary between $65K to $80K a year for about 10 years. During that time, I have had mandatory debt repayment that resulted in net income half of annual earnings. In short, on paper I looked prosperous, in reality, my net income hovered around $30K to $40K a year. Add in some unanticipated unemployment and true net earnings in the past 4 years has been around $15K – $20K. That is my financial situation.

Living With High Debt

What does living with high debt look like? Well, when you have high debt that cuts income by half it changes what you can do. For example, high annual salary, on paper, means you cannot pursue continuing education through financial aid even though from a net income standpoint you would qualify. Since financial aid is based on gross income, you are left on relying on cash to fund continuing education as a working adult. Likewise, your lifestyle fails to match your occupation or gross earnings which means your social compatibility among peers could suffer. This could have ramifications for upward mobility within a profession. Finally, the resources available to you to endure a job loss are far less than would otherwise seem to be the case for your career level or perceived level of prior income. People may be baffled as to why you are in a situation of near destitution following a job loss.

My Future With Debt

Part of my past career has involved analytic work. Based on a general analysis, the debt situation appears to be lifelong. Basically, I will continue to service the debt from normal employment income through social security retirement. This is part of life. Sometimes we find ourselves with a situation that appears impossible to move beyond. I believe the situation can change for the better. I have hope that as long as I continue with forthright intentions, faith, and intelligence, life will remain fruitful in a variety of ways despite a lack of financial resources. We must never give up the hope that life will ultimately unfold in a more positive way. At times, we must do our part, sometimes through mistaken actions in which we learn during our journey forward, to see the fulfillment of greater promise.

The Fortitude to Endure

Functioning in society and in life with high debt does not have to be the end of the world. You can lose everything you own, lose your reputation, and lose your legacy and as long as you are alive, still breathing, you still possess the greatest gift. The gift of life. As long as you can still think, breathe, and feel the essence of nature, you have the highest of benefits life has to offer. All other things only enhance what you already have. Not having the other things others who are financially wealthy or otherwise very successful in terms of moderately high and steady net income, social standing, and legacy can be disappointing. For some of us, that disappointment may never diminish entirely but if we can have the discipline to strive towards honor in thought and deed and look upwards towards a greater spiritual renewal, we can have certainty that our efforts to live remain part of the will of God.

By Michael Gautier

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