Student Debt, Debtors' Prison / by Kenneth Buff

I've always joked about it. Having accumulated a ridiculous amount of debt so fast and having received nothing tangible for it. An education is of course a great thing, but depending on your chosen career field, and the amount of student debt it took you to get there, well, depending on how those things went, the situation can sometimes look bleak.

So let me confess. I'm a teacher. I'm a writer too, but teacher mostly. In college I was a dumb kid. I was offered a bunch of money with bad interest rates that weren't explained to me very well, and well, now I'm not so dumb, and I can see the real world implications of what I've drowned myself in. In college taking large sums of money that offer you the chance to go to Europe and drink legally at the age of 19 (that's not what I did or why I went, but it was the popular thing to do for many of my classmates) it's really hard to say no to it. It's also nice to have a little extra when that Geo you've been driving gets struck by a Tundra and you'd like to replace it with an overpriced European car, because hey, Europe is cool, that's why we've got all this money for, remember? But needless to say, I graduated with a lot of debt, probably twice the amount necessary to get the degree I got, and the career field I chose was not a high paying one, despite the amount of work and energy required to teach, and despite the importance teaching has on the future of society. But that's another thing for another time. But my point is, I was dumb. I had no one older than me to look to for advice, and everybody else was taking in the cash too, so who was I to say no? I'm not better than Jimmy. In fact, Jimmy might be better than me if I don't take the money, he's got a new Xbox in his apartment. Who would I be if I were left behind?

So I was dumb. And now I'll pay for it. Not just in the literal since of repayment, but in the sorts of limitations that go with having lots of debt. I try not to look at the numbers, to stare at the interests rates too long, because if I do, I'll feel nothing but an all consuming bout of depression. And as we all know too well, life is very short. Even if you're indebted for half your life, as I will more than likely be, you're still alive. You still eat, laugh, love. Nothing of real value has been lost. And even if it had, wallowing won't water the money tree. So, I choose to stand, instead of fall. Hoping one day I'll work hard enough long enough to find the key to my self-made debtors' prison, but if I don't, if I never see the exit of this metaphorical place, I'll still have my life, and everything that comes with it. What more could I ask for?