A few days ago, someone I haven’t spoken to in months sent me a text asking for a huge sum of money. I and this person are not friends but we know each other from a certain lifetime. I responded that I didn’t have any unbudgeted money at the time, and couldn’t help. The response I got from them was bewildering.
“You are still single, right?” the person asks.
“What has that got to do with anything?” I ask.
They say they were wondering what I do with ‘all’ my money anyway. They added a few laugh emojis to make it sound light but I didn’t take it lightly.
I have thought about all the times people have assumed that I have way too much money and should be able to help whenever they need me to. While this is not entirely true, I don’t think a person who is single is required to declare their wealth or the amount of time they have, to the world. People who are single have responsibilities too, to themselves if not to anyone else. And that in itself is enough for them not to be able to come through. The larger society assumes that unmarried people and people without children have very little use for money and time.
This is completely untrue. People spending their money on travel and experience is perceived as waste. It is assumed that these people have no better use for their money. In reality, these are people who have deliberately decided to channel their money and time into whatever they spend them on. Sometimes, even families and relatives come at single people with certain audacity, assuming that they should get help whenever they need it. This is not always financial. Sometimes, it's their time, their house, and any other thing they deem fit to ask for and unfortunately, expect to get.
Agreed, the level of responsibilities might vary, but they are there. Other people’s priorities in that case, cannot become a priority for a person who is single just because society thinks it. Nobody’s life is a shared responsibility. We are all responsible for our own choices and decisions. We own the burdens we bear. Insisting that another person, just because you think they have less to carry, bears it with you is unreasonable and entitled. There is a very thin line between entitlement and responsibility and we often operate from the entitlement side of thinking.
Help where you can
We do owe people commitment, help, and understanding but it works two ways. We must understand that we are not living anyone’s life so as to assume that they are having it easier than we are. Even if they are having it easier, they don’t owe us any burden-sharing. Getting angry at a person because they said they couldn’t help you doesn’t mean you have seen their ‘true colours’. It only means that they need your understanding too, just as you need theirs. They don’t necessarily have to explain why they can’t help. Honestly, we shouldn’t expect an explanation unless they offer it themselves. We are quick to brand people as selfish the moment they choose to do something that they want to do, over what we expect them to do for us.
While I am all for asking for help, I am also okay if the answer is a no. There is a lot we are all battling privately. Social media perpetuates glamour because we are more comfortable sharing things that we are happy with and about. That might explain why ‘my friend’ couldn’t believe I didn’t have left-over money to lend. Even if I did, I am allowed to say no, because we don’t know each other like that. We all know what they say about money, lose the friend or be willing to lose money. This isn’t true in my case because most of my friends and I do have an honest relationship in our borrowing and returning money.
It takes a lot of establishing trust with each other to get a little uncomfortable or even go an extra mile for a friend. It is something that is earned over time, both ways. We should understand where we are at in people’s lives and where they are in our lives. That way, we will understand when to ask for what help, and even how.