My debt pay-off plans come out of my mouth before I even realize it does in many conversations with my peers. Sometimes I get blank stares because people either don’t realize the gravity of $113K in student loans or they simply don’t care. But it occurred to me that I seldom tell those who are older than me what I am doing. I don’t know if that is because they are somewhat out of the equation when it comes to people I speak with on a daily basis, or if I am concerned about how they will judge me for living my youth. After all, the norm these days is ‘YOLO,’ ‘Can’t take it with you,’ and ‘Live it up while you’re young!’
Whatever the reason, last night at my night job, I told two older managers of mine (that I have known for many years) that I hoped to be able to quit serving tables at that job in a couple of months. They asked where I was going and I told them nowhere, it is just that I will be debt-free at that point. I told them I have kept this night job while working a day job for so many years because I made it a goal to have all of my student loans paid off as fast as I possibly could. They were floored when I told them I have paid off over a hundred thousand dollars thus far. They genuinely celebrated with me and said so many kind words. That typically doesn’t happen. Typically I will get, “Wow cool, pay off mine next.” with a chuckle and a fast exit. I was floored they didn’t know that about me, but they indeed had no clue; they had no idea I had a reason for being a server other than to make some fun, side money.
So what did I learn from this? Tell everyone what you are going through, not just your peers! People you least expect could encourage you and celebrate your accomplishments. I didn’t feel that I needed any praise, but let me tell you, now that morning has come, I feel a smidge prouder of myself than I did yesterday. Praise helps. Praise should be welcomed. I am doing something many do not. I do stand out. It felt good to be noticed for that even if I was standing there covered in barbecue sauce while wearing a worn out apron.