The frustrating things about being a working class student

“You have to pay rent?! That’s basically abuse.”

Since going to University if there’s one thing I’ve realised it’s that every body is so different and we all get thrown together like fish in a pond. One of the most frustrating things I’ve found is that people are quite judgemental of things I’ve always found normal and accepted- and it took a long time to realise it was a class issue.

I am proud of my working class roots and I feel it’s taught me valuable lessons for life. I’ve seen my family struggle and I’ve seen them hustle and both have inspired the future I aspire for. But sometimes I feel alienated when I am around people who don’t understand what it’s like, having to be financially responsible from a young age.

One of the things that angers is me is when I have money, it goes straight on the important things. Rent, feeding myself and then IF there’s any extra it goes on savings or ’emergency money’. This is for things such as train tickets home if necessary or to replace things that have broken. From experience, people don’t really understand the concept of emergency money and just say, “Can you not just ask your parents?” No, I can’t.

In my home, from the age of eighteen you contribute to the house costs. This helps build responsibility and manage your money, and even help you budget. So when I got to uni, I was so used to budgeting but I always felt guilty as hell when I had to decline plans because I had no disposable money. In the past, comments such as “You’re no fun” or “You have such bad luck with money” have hurt me. Because I’m not privileged or lucky enough to be able to spend with no obligations.

I used to think, ‘oh, it’s okay. They just don’t understand’. But it’s taken a lot of thinking about it and having the same comments thrown at me to realise it’s just pure ignorance and judgment. We all have our issues and I’m not claiming that other classes don’t have problems, but I feel like being working class comes with unfair connotations that might as well be written on your forehead from birth.

My parents are not lazy, and they worked hard. They have worked for every penny they earned, and climbed up in their careers but due to the state of the economy they are not being paid a living, fair wage. Every penny they have ever had has gone on renting the home; savings for Christmas; school uniforms and the weekly food shop. Sadly we live in an expensive town and inflation is high, and we cannot move because of my siblings schools.

I have worked since I was fourteen, because I wanted money to buy makeup like the other girls and I wanted to earn that myself. I got money on birthdays and Christmas, but an allowance was not part of the weekly budget, that one budget that kept everything in place for us.

I’ve coached children’s parties, pierced ears, pulled pints and stacked shelves just to earn a bit of money for University so maybe I’ll have half a chance like everyone else, but until I got there, I didn’t realise how under scrutiny I’d be. On one occasion I remember telling a flat mate about a job, as I was in my overdraft. “Ah I just got my Mum to pay off mine. Have your parents not given you anything?”

I often wonder why it always comes down to the parents. From eighteen we are adults, we are responsible for ourselves. And whereas it’s okay and perfectly fine and natural to give us guidance and help when we need it, I can’t help but feel smothering and endlessly covering for someone’s finances is making it harder for them to grow up in the long run.

I’m not saying that working for what you have is exclusive to working class families, I know plenty of middle class people my age who work their butts off to do things as that’s the way their families have taught them. But I feel like there’s more of a disposition and unfair treatment when your logical thinking towards money and budgeting comes along paired with a council house and a childhood with no holidays abroad. It’s like you mention your childhood holidays were at Butlins and you get Mr Ski Trip 2000 saying “Aw what a shame.” Mate, I saw Dick and Dom live. I had experiences, just maybe not in the Maldives.

It’s also the little things, like when you hear somebody on the street saying they are experiencing financial problems because they are fifty pounds off buying a spa day (only in Stratford upon Avon) when in reality you have lived off tinned food from approved foods just to get by when times have been extremely tough when circumstances have changed. Or when you are judged at a house party for sipping Lidl’s Woodgate instead of Strongbow with comments like “HOW POOR ARE YOU”. Quite, thank you, feel free to make a donation with that silly sham of a comment. I’m still getting drunk, right?!

The most aggravating thing imaginable to me is when you work a few extra shifts so you can afford to treat yourself and give yourself some TLC and when you can’t afford to spend hundreds on a night out in a big city, its “But you brought loads of stuff the other day so you clearly don’t wanna hang out with us.”

I have always been the person to invite people over and cook them dinner to hang out. I don’t believe money is always a good time, but sometimes things such as going to a cocktail bar or a club is luxury and I appreciate those for doing them rarely. But being called a ‘boring granny’ by your flat mates friend for having work on a Saturday morning and not partying on the Friday night takes the biscuit.

I am glad that some people can afford to do those things, and I’ll never stop my friendships with people because they wanna go out and I can’t afford it. I don’t expect the world to stop for me. But when people go to University, they don’t grasp they are going to meet people who aren’t as privileged as them. They don’t make any time for meeting people’s differences or trying to understand. They just judge, because it’s the easiest thing to do instead of listening.

So I have wrote this post, out of frustration, because I don’t think there is anything wrong with being working class. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being middle or upper class either. But there is definitely something wrong with some people’s attitudes towards others who don’t have as much money.

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