Sometimes I feel caught between both worlds. Is that what middle class means? Stuck in the middle? I’m a world above the poverty line, but a world away from the moderately wealthy.
The Right Side of the Tracks
I grew up in a middle class neighborhood. I guess you could say I lived on the right side of the tracks….literally. On the other side of the tracks, there was a higher number of individuals that were below the poverty line. It was a bit of a mix of the middle class and those below the poverty line.
Daily Interactions With Both Sides
There wasn’t a rival between my side of the tracks and the other side or anything. I daily walked across that line as did everyone that lived on the other side. I interacted with people all of the time that were struggling to make ends meet. I also mingled with people that were well off.
Regularly, I came in contact with homeless people or those that were in need of a meal. My family didn’t struggle to put food on the table. Budget-conscious, but not poor. As far back as I could remember, I’ve been caught in the middle between poor and rich.
I’m Not Poor
Even now, I’m not poor. Sure, my husband and I have had our times when we have wondered how we would pay the bills. Other times we would wonder have enough nutritious food to feed the kids. I depend on hand-me-downs from friends and the thrift store to clothe my family. That doesn’t make me poor.
But I’m Not Rich
I’m not rich, either. We can afford to go on a big trip every couple of years. A couple of times a month, we go out to eat. A few times a year, we take the kids to a movie. Most of the time we dress nice. We have cell phones. Those things do not make me rich.
I’m Somewhere in the Middle
The best I can be categorized myself is being somewhere in the middle. I’m not so far off from those that visit our food pantry, that I can’t identify with them. I’m also not so far off from people that have 6 figure jobs, that I can’t relate to them.
What the Middle Looks Like to Others
Both worlds look at me in a totally different light. On the one hand, my friends in the tax bracket below me see that we struggle from time to time. Mostly that group thinks we are doing well.
On the other hand, my friends in the tax bracket above me look at our times of struggle with compassion, because they know we are really trying. On the times when we are doing well, they still won’t allow me to pay for anything if we go out together. Just a different way of showing mercy on the less fortunate.
I Dreamed of a Day I Would be Poor
When I was a child, I used to dream of being poor one day. Not what you would consider being an aspiring dream. Now that I am an adult raising my family, I wish my ambitions had been different. There was a part of me that glamorized that life a little too much.
I think the biggest part of the fantasy was barely making it, but happy in spite of things. It is funny how different things are to experience in your life versus the fantasies we create. There is nothing glamorous about struggling to pay bills.
Materialism Isn’t My Struggle
I’m sure that as a child, my ideals were just a push back against materialism. Even today, I’m not the kind of person that wants much. I am happy with the size of my home. New cars mean nothing to me. I hate clothes shopping, so hand-me-downs don’t bother me a bit.
For the reasons stated above, I wouldn’t classify myself as materialistic. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with jealousy in other areas.
What Makes Me Mad About My Budget
I’d say my biggest struggle is with experiences. I want to be able to go out and do things whenever I feel like it. I don’t need it to be extravagant, but I like going out and doing stuff. If I want to take a trip out of town, I want to be able to afford to do it.
I have friends and family that live all over the place. I get really frustrated when I can’t plan a trip to visit the people I love, because the van broke down again and drained our savings. It annoys me that if the kids ask if they can play a sport or take a class, I have to deny it for lack of funds. This list could go on.
What I Feel When I Look at The Other Two Groups
Just like most people, when I see others that are struggling more than I am, I have compassion toward their circumstances. It makes me feel thankful for what I have. When I look at those in the tax bracket above me, I find myself feeling discontent with what I have.
What Makes Me Thankful About My Finances
Part of what makes us content in life is knowing what we have and being thankful for it. God has always provided for my family. We’ve never once been homeless or gone without our basic needs being met. I’m thankful that God has never let us down when it comes to paying bills and providing for us.
Why God Put Me in The Middle
I’m in love with diversity. My friends are no different. If I put all of my friends in the same room, it would be a collision of worlds.
I’ve got poor friends and rich friends. Those two groups tend to butt heads, because neither group feels the other is doing the right things with their money. The poor think the rich are overspending and being extravagant with their money. The rich think the poor are squandering their money.
I’m in the middle, so I don’t have a dog in the fight. Both groups look at me and see a bit of themselves in my circumstances. For the poor, I’m not so rich I don’t understand where they are coming from. I don’t own so much stuff that they feel out of place.
For the rich, I’m not so poor I don’t see their point of view. I have enough of the luxuries they are used to that they aren’t uncomfortable around me. It is true, I understand both sides.
That is why I know God put me in the middle. I’m oftentimes the bridging gap between two groups of people. If my earnings swung too far one way or the other, then I would lose people in the opposite group. For this reason, some days I’m ok to be in the middle and some days I’m not.