Three things are certain, life, death and taxes. One other thing is assured, going broke. Being broke is a baffling aspect of life because despite it being a standard norm in everyone's life, no one is ever really prepared for the mayhem it generates. Everyone prepares for old age, for financial budgeting, for funerals, for births and baby showers, for weddings, but few people are ever prepared to live from hand to mouth due to circumstances beyond their control.
Living broke is a scary phenomenon which has caused people to lose the essence of their lives, their marriages and has served to increase the social standing of counselors (for those that can afford or get help), and fuelled a thriving drug abuse industry. Broke people are always broken people, vulnerable people and in dire need of guidance to live to fight another day.
With the economy taking a long recession, and the cost of living rising, more and more people are finding themselves in financially precarious positions, the mere inevitability of life.
Running out of money for a large chunk of the citizenry might as well as be considered as a rite of passage. The pandemic exacerbated this with many losing their jobs, running into debt and falling into habits that they normally wouldn’t if they had had money. Being broke changed lifestyles.
When you lose your main source of income during the onset of a pandemic, or have savings trickle out , you become financially disabled. There are lessons you learn on living through financial hardship which make life more meaningful, more productive and much easier to get along.
I have been through this and picked up a few lessons that I unfortunately had to learn the hard way.
Being broke or losing your only source of income creates a physical and mental void that is easily filled by the use and abuse of alcohol, or even drugs. What makes it easier to get hooked to the habit is the accessibility of habit-forming substances such as alcohol and the temporary reprieve that they seem to offer, and the vulnerable state that one is in.
Well here is a buzzer, you still wake up the next morning without a gig, you become dependent and whatever little you make will go back to sate your newfound pleasure. It messes up your social life and is likely to lead you into a sordid mental state. When financially vulnerable, sobriety is a good flex.
This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way from a year long bout with alcoholism, half depression, broken down social contract ties and the degenerate life of a village tippler. There is nothing fancy to that madness.
One should remember that being broke is a state and not a permanent condition and depending on how one handles it, it may take a short while to get over or may last the duration of a pandemic. It pays to nurture your mental state and one of the best ways is to make a conscious effort to keep yourself mentally and physically active. Jot a journal, read a book, make an effort to exercise or learn a new skill set.
I raised dogs, penned down on my blog, read more blogs than I ever have in my entire life, made books a constant friend, had an on and off relationship with a saxophone that I am trying to learn. I picked up basic gardening and on some days I would just wait for the day to end so that I could sleep.
I wore my body down to an extent that overthinking became a luxury I didn’t have. An acute mind will always be looking for a way out of a dead end and one of the best methods to keep a mind sharp is to keep it active and healthy.An idle mind is the devils, workshop and junkyard. This cannot be overemphasized. Keep those hands busy.
Married people upon getting divorced usually change houses or locations. This works for their headspace. The same works when one has gotten into a financial crisis. Scaling down, taking a breather away from the previous conditions can rejuvenate the mind into better functionality.
My boyhood village reminded me that Nairobi is a land of opportunities. It gave me a space to regroup, repick and restart up. It instilled a sense of value,worth and a driven push.
It pays to acknowledge that you cannot afford to take yourself out like you used to. That you cannot afford a new pair of sneakers, and that KICC rooftop makes a more meaningful date venue than that Tsavo tour.
It pays to understand that you just cannot afford and it pays even more to say that you cannot. It’s not just about being deadbeat broke, it is the acknowledgment that you actually are that regenerates your self worth.
To sum it up, one never goes through life intending to be without money. One misstep here, an occurrence beyond your control there and a flurry of survival adjustments later, you just find yourself without a penny to your name. The reality is that few ever easily break out of it.
It is easy to fall into a habit that will do little to ease the pain of the period. It can be tough to objectively review your situation and make careful steps to get out of the sinkhole especially once you have entangled yourself in addictions.
But it is that which seems hardest to do that must be done with patient consistency before one finds themselves out of the woods - or at least on the path to regaining a financial footing.