I Live Paycheck to Paycheck, & I Don't See the Light at the End of the Tunnel

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Like most students, I don’t have an uncapped amount of money that I can pull from whenever I want. Since I started college, there hasn’t been a moment when I haven’t been working. Being the youngest of four girls, I wanted to do my part by paying for things I could afford, like groceries and most of my bills. I didn’t want my mom to be my main support when she has so many other responsibilities to juggle, so over the past three years I’ve worked a total of nine different jobs–with up to four at once, not including extracurriculars or internships. Even though some days weren’t the best, I loved the rush of meeting a deadline and then being able to watch my favorite shows or hang out with my friends at the end of the day.

After getting through a grueling fall semester that challenged me in every way, shape and form, I came out stronger and more motivated than ever to make the most out of my spring semester. I was going to study abroad, travel with my sisters and finally go on a girl’s trip with my college friends. Thankfully, I had amazing jobs to support what I wanted to do–I’ve always prided myself on managing my time and properly budgeting, because even when things were tight, I could make it work without having to enlist the support of my mom. But as COVID-19 started to spread across the U.S. it was like a ticking time bomb as my plans slowly started to fade away.

First to go was my weekend trip to see a friend in California that I’ve missed dearly. Then, as the virus spread throughout Europe, my study abroad program, scheduled for this May in Paris, was cancelled. Now, just leaving my apartment to catch up with my friends is a thing of the past.

It was hard to believe that this was happening until businesses and stores, including my sales job, closed for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, I’m one of the lucky ones who is still getting paid–even a little bit–throughout this time. I’m grateful that my company still values the workers–including part-timers like myself–enough to continue paying us when the doors are closed. But if I’m going to be honest, if I didn’t still have my online T.A. job right now, I’d be completely screwed.

With the group of bills that I do have, I wouldn’t be able to keep up my payments without a steady income. Not knowing how long we’ll all be in quarantine is terrifying in its own right, but there’s another level of uncertainty when your finances are at stake. With the state that the U.S. is in right now, I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to work. Originally it was intended to be a two-week set back, but as the number of cases continues to rise, the future is murkier than ever.

In a span of three weeks, my life completely changed. I quit a job that had great pay, but was too physically demanding, knowing that I had other jobs that I could rely on. I managed to get a job interview that I was so excited for, but it was inevitably postponed to an undetermined date. All of this, on top of my store's temporary closure, is stressful to say the least.

This transition has been nerve-wrecking, but being the type A planner that I am, I know I’ll be ok. I also know I’m one of the few that have the luxury of feeling somewhat secure.

I couldn’t tell you how many people that I love have been affected by this pandemic–put on leave, laid off, or just plain let go. And that’s not including the students who’ve been sent home from amazing programs across the world, or who’ve had seasons cut short. Semesters ended, graduations cancelled, and lives that they’ve worked so hard for completely stop in a matter of days.

I’ve been self-quarantined for almost two weeks, and I don’t know how I’m going to handle all of these changes. All of my classes are now online, so I look at a screen all day whether it be for work, club meetings or to just socialize. My routine is unrecognizable from what it was a month ago, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is practically impossible for me.

Regardless of who you are and where you’re from, this affects you somehow. Whether you like it or not, we’re all in this together. The only way that we’re going to get through it is by trying to understand where others are coming from and how this impacts their day to day life. So, if you can, please stay home for those who are high risk, for the teachers working from home and the students who’ve had their semester flipped upside down, for the people who’ve lost their jobs, and for the overall greater good.

Eventually this storm will pass, but it’s up to us to determine how quickly.