I realized that my debt load was my safe place. I stared at the $36,000 I owed in student loans 6 years ago and felt completely overwhelmed….and stuck. It felt like it was such an astronomical amount that paying it off would only happen in a future far, FAR away. Then I realized after reassessing the decisions I was making, reading books on personal finance and listening to podcasts, that this debt was holding me hostage. I either took a job I didn’t want or stayed in a job I didn’t want because I had this loan to pay back. I would go about my daily life shopping, eating out , traveling and pretend that it wasn’t depressing my entire financial situation. I realized that in order to free myself to make the decisions that I wanted in life, that I had to get out from under it. I also had other goals that I told myself were difficult to meet, one of which was preparing for and taking the Law School Admission Test. It was always the plan to go to law school after college but then I started working and of course, the longer I was out of the school, the harder it was to prepare to go back. The potential of going $100,000 + into debt for a law degree wasn’t exactly a persuasive incentive either. In the last few years, I’ve decided that if I’m gonna make my word my bond, I have to pay back the loans that I took out. But I’ve used the debt as an excuse or buffer in some ways to put off harder goals like taking the LSAT. Every time I sat down to study, I would tell myself I’m not smart enough, the concepts were too far over my head to grasp. The truth was I just wasn’t putting in the necessary time to prepare and embrace the fact that I needed to eliminate time wasting hobbies (watching tv, internet surfing and shopping) in order to do well.
I would make excuses for not studying like being too busy due to working over time to pay down the balance. I would also treat paying down the debt as a goal that I could point my friends and family to (who were wondering what I was doing with my life) and say that I was working toward something worthwhile. Paying this off was easier than figuring out what I really wanted because if I REALLY wanted to be a lawyer, I would have gone to school years ago without hesitation. The thing is I don’t want to spend another 3 or 4 years in a classroom especially when the ROI is uncertain. I would graduate in my 40’s and the reality is the age may hurt me as far as securing employment as an attorney. But at the same time , the matter of taking the test seems SO unfinished, I must take it so that I can finally put it to bed not have the issue haunt me like it’s done for the past 10 + years.
I’ve finally decided to remove the buffer (really paying off the loans) and I’ve also set a date to take the test in June. I have 3 months to prepare.
The moral of this story is if you’re hiding behind your debt to avoid possible pain you have to RESOLVE it, face the issue HEAD ON. In the end, I’ve hurt my self-confidence because I’ve broken promises to myself in terms of saying I will take it the test ( and registering for it!) only to give up on preparing and letting the test date drift by. Align your sub-conscience ( what you tell yourself) with what your reality is.
The beauty of facing your fears is that when you take actionable steps to overcome them, it is False Evidence Appearing Real and that what you were afraid of , isn’t really that scary at all.
Are you using your debt to avoid a painpoint in your life? Tell us about it below!