Debra Swersky
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Journal

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Struggle

For my entire life I have struggled with financial information. It’s as if you give me a sheet of paper with numbers on it and my brain goes “oh hell no we don’t do no numbers.” But, I do do numbers, and I can do math… I just struggle. 

In my years I’ve noticed that I also struggle with current events… er… history and current events… er… the background of the events that are now current but that I should have learned about in history or social studies class. Basically, if it’s an acronym, or they talk about it on the news, chances are I don’t get it. One would have to imagine that there are lots of people like me out there in the world because have you seen Good Morning America recently? No, I mean, actually seen Good Morning America? Impossible. It’s 40 minutes of ads and 20 minutes of “news.” And yes, America, the side effects of too much sugar are still weight gain. The current morning news offerings among the major news stations for the masses must be reflective of the population that doesn’t understand current events… right? There must be tons of people like me… 

At any rate, it’s nice of me to admit that “I struggle” with current events, but the real questions are, “How long have I known about this struggle?” and “What have I done to help myself when struggling?” 

Last week I was asked about the duration of my struggle… and the questioner laughed when I could actually pinpoint the time in my life when I first noticed struggling. (Oy vey.)

Tenth grade. Social studies class. Current events unit. The assignment each night was to pick up the newspaper, find an article, read it, summarize it, and then “be prepared” to discuss it with the class. I remember almost nothing from that class other than: (1) I don’t like the paper newspaper. (2) Reading the newspaper feels like starting to read someone’s life story from chapter 26. (3) Nothing in the paper interests me… probably because I don’t understand it. (4) All of the content in the paper appears to be important (because people read it everyday) but, I understand nearly nothing from it. (5) The articles are way too long. 

Since the assignment was a tenth grade form of torture, I wanted to do as little of it as possible… so I found articles that I could understand. And that were short. And that didn’t feel like I needed to actually have learned anything in my prior years of schooling to understand. 

Moving on, I knew back in the tenth grade that I was doomed and that eventually I would get to college and would be able to study what I wanted to study without having to muddy my head with the date of the American Revolution. (Um… yeah. Wikipedia?) But, that plan backfired as do most “when I get to college I won’t have to do X anymore” plans. After graduating I realized that understanding the unemployment rate, and the political situation, and why the economy might have gone into a depression were all important things to understand… and so I continued to struggle. 

And then I went to Babson and instead of learning the algorithms to calculate the unemployment rate for myself, I learned what the unemployment rate meant in context. And then I found TheSkimm, the answer to all of my current event conundrums. And then I was sent FinimizeTheSkimm but for finance. In short, as long as you’re ok catching me up, or linking me to resources, despite my long-term struggles, I can figure out how to move myself forward and thrive with the information.

Debra Swersky