There are few things in my life that I’m proud of. My life has been a hard one. I grew up poor surrounded by drugs, alcohol, and parties. As an adult, I pride myself on being a decent mother, fairly intelligent, and a strong Zumba fitness instructor. This last year has brought everything I had been proud of shattering around me.
One: not being able to give my children the things they want to “fit in.” Recently my 10 year old daughter attended a birthday party where her 10 year old friend received an iPhone 6. I then had to watch my daughter cry silently as I explained that she wasn’t old enough for such technology. She does have a tablet, which was not a gift from me, but suddenly that’s not good enough for her. She wants to fit in. She wants to have an iPhone like so many of her friends. I stand by my decision on her not being old enough, but what about other trendy items? I can’t afford wardrobes from trendy stores like Old Navy, The Gap or P.S. by Aeropostale. Sadly my girls wear clothes from Wal-Mart of K-Mart. More often than not, their sneakers come from the same stores, or from Pay Less. Even though they choose their own wardrobes, a part of me dies inside that I can’t at least give them name brand clothes and sneakers. I see many of their classmates wearing Uggs, another item I will not buy because of how fast they are growing. But if I had the money to constantly replace the boots, I would buy them for my babies in a heart beat. They’re unable to participate in sports not only because of start up fees, but the fact that I work nights and cannot transport them. They’re unable to play an instrument in the school band because I cannot afford the instrument rental. I know many people will tell me that all of these things are trivial, but the truth is that they’re not. These things are important in a child’s life, especially the sports and musical activities. And when I have to tell my babies that they can’t do the same activities their friends are doing, a piece of me dies.
Two: realizing I’m not as intelligent as I think I am. Currently I am in my third semester of college. Each semester I have found myself in tears due to struggling with my academic load, and honestly it’s not a heavy one. I’d always been a good student through elementary and high school, but 10 years later I find myself on the tail end of everything. I sit in my biology class twice a week struggling to follow along. My professor’s words could just as easily be in German for all that I am able to understand. I look around the room at my fellow classmates who don’t appear to be having the same issue. They participate actively and ask questions in the same German language while I desperately listen for some small shred of the English language I’ll be able to jot down for later use. Perhaps I’m not as intelligent as I thought I was…perhaps I waited too long to return to the world of education. I’m a receptionist at a gym and I teach Zumba fitness classes…not exactly positions I can make a living out of. I’m unable to go into the military because I’m a mother. College is, sadly my only option, but I’m afraid I won’t make it to graduation. A part of me died when I realized I’m not longer able to keep up.
Three: watching my Zumba career go down the drain. A little over three years ago I decided to get licensed, not to teach, but to have access to amazing events that only instructors could attend. I was pushed into teaching, but sadly I still have not been to any of the fantastic events I’ve longed to go to. When I first started teaching, I considered myself to be good. And I felt wanted. I was always a part of something, whether it be performing in a Zumba event or substituting for another instructor. Suddenly I am not an outcast. Only 3 or 4 instructors ask me to cover their classes and when I do I’m lucky if any students show up. A piece of me dies when only 2 people show up to a class I’m teaching. I’m rarely asked to do an event outside of any I’ve started or help start. The lack of interest hurts. People have posted hurtful things about my class on social media and it affects me…very deeply. I have my true friends who will say nice things to lift my spirits, but I can’t help but wonder what I’ve done wrong. Why am I so alienated? I’m currently on a break from teaching, and am unsure if I’ll return. The honest truth that many people will not notice or care kills of piece of me. I had Zumba dreams after teaching for the first time. But as with every other aspect of my life, I do not have the money to turn my dreams to reality.
It’s said that money can’t buy happiness. Maybe that’s true. But more often than not the people who make that statement are financially sound, and that is a fact. They may not be rich, but they are comfortable. They do not understand what not having money does to a person. They do not understand what it’s like to have a negative balance in their bank account. They do not understand what it’s like to live on hot dogs, noodles, and frozen pizzas. They do not understand what it’s like to have a piece of their spirit die.
I’m rebuilding my life…but so much of me has died.