Oh Hello Jo — All is not as it seems…

Words:
Jo Rosenthal

I ended June with -$38.52 in my bank account. It was almost as bad as when I came home from Paris with -$300.00 in my bank account, but I had a quicker solution for that at the time. No it did not involve a sugar daddy, it involved receiving overdue payments from numerous jobs.

On the 27th of June, I tried to take an Uber into Williamsburg and my card got declined. I assumed it was because I used the wrong card, but when I checked my bank account my stomach felt almost funny at first. The next few days I borrowed money and closely went through my expenses for the past month seeing where I went wrong. During the last six months, I hid three credit cards because I had wracked up a disturbing amount of debt. Something along the lines of $13,000. It’s awful just thinking about it. I had no choice, but to ask my dad for help which ended up getting me in even more trouble because whenever he would give me money, I was so addicted to shopping that I ended up using the money for evil.
My credit card debt all began around October 2018 when I ran out of my savings that I had after quitting my full time job at The New Museum. I had worked really hard to put my money away, pay off some student debt, do a little retail therapy and try and make more by putting my hand into some commercial work. It felt so good to have savings and quit my job. I felt like I had a new chance at life and a new way to fully care for myself. My spending habits quickly worsened as I felt this need to use my independence on high fashion and fine dining. What was I thinking?
It wasn’t always this way. At one point last summer I was working three jobs to make ends meet, pay off my debts and have money for clothes. I’d like to say that it was worth it, but I have extreme respect for those who work multiple jobs to make ends meet. I physically could not do it. I stopped seeing friends, lovers and never had time to sleep or eat. I just don’t understand why the world makes it so difficult for artists to pursue their dreams. Having immigrant grandparents I have that strong work ethic in me, but at what cost? Am I supposed to compromise my health to pay my rent and credit cards off? Nothing seems to make sense or be the right answer and so often it just doesn’t feel fair.
I feel that I can confess this to you because I think if I talk about it out loud, I’ll be able to have some clarity and be able to prevent it in the future. Having debt and no money is not fun. I hate that at 24 years old I have to ask my parents for money. My parents who both work full time jobs, have worked full time jobs my entire life and have supported and helped me with college and my move to New York. I should be taking care of them. Having Instagram followers makes me feel like I have an insane amount of pressure on me to stay relevant and because I work in fashion and am constantly bombarded with new collections and other peoples beautiful closets. Because I wanted to live like I saw the other girls I work with, I spent all of my money just so I could live the life of many people who have wealthy parents, get paid hundreds of dollars to post and have full time jobs in the industry. I don’t know how else to explain it other than that I fucked up.
Since my financial demise, I have cleaned up my act. I’ve gotten down to $2,000 in debt and made sure that I always have some sort of income each month. As much as I was embarrassed to tell my parents what happened, they gave me numerous talks on how being an independent adult is really hard and that even though they won’t fully support me anymore, they’d do everything in their power to make sure I don’t ever go hungry.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give to anyone reading this, it’s that everyone has some sort of debt. No one in the fashion industry that I’ve met hasn’t struggled with this at some point in their lives. Unless they are the queen or someone extremely fabulous with a long line of fabulous family members… If you’re struggling financially or even emotionally, you are not alone. There is always someone doing better than you and there is always someone doing worse than you. Things won’t always be like this. You will get fantastic opportunities and you will fail miserably. You will have a million reasons to smile and you will have a million more to frown. Nothing is permanent except for the sun that will keep on coming out with each passing day.

“If you’re struggling financially or even emotionally, you are not alone. There is always someone doing better than you and there is always someone doing worse than you.”

Recap: It’s okay to ask for help. Chances are that your friends are going through the same thing. If you have friends or connections that would help your friends, you might as well help them out. It’s no sweat on your back if someone you love gets a fantastic opportunity or job. If we don’t build ourselves up together, we won’t be as strong.
Song I listened to a lot these past two weeks:
Advice I can’t stop reading: https://hellogiggles.com