Have you seen the recent season of Shameless where Frank competes with homeless people and a black sorority girl for the title of “The Hobo Loco Man”? No? Well you’re missing out!
In this (epic) season of one of my favorite shows in the entire world, some savvy digital marketers realize young people love to be poor. We love to be homeless! Maybe it’s the thrill of it? So how else do you get us to buy beer: Have homeless-adjacent people fight to the death to sell it to us? YES!
All jokes aside, this season brought a few questions to my mind:
1) Am I really homeless?
2) Did I really choose to live out of my car and a suitcase?
3) What separates me from the meth addict sleeping in a tent on Skid Row?⛺️
And I don’t mean to be insensitive, but seriously, what is the difference? If you know me, you may know I have lots of homeless friends. And I love Chipotle. And I love to buy Chipotle and beer for certain citizens of Los Angeles; and sit on their tarps; while we eat said Chipotle and beer and blast music on Sunset Blvd. People stare. That’s just me. But whenever I do hang out with homeless people, I am clearly not one of them. When I was literally homeless, I was still not one of them.
A friend read my Failing Out Loud blog post and mentioned that homeless people were not there by choice, and maybe my post was doing a disservice to their reality. Maybe it was a little insensitive.
I got evicted. Well technically, I got served with the court notice that my landlord wanted my apartment because I hadn’t paid rent in three months, and instead of fighting it, I just left. I put my entire apartment in storage and I embarked on a season long road trip across the West Coast. Because my depression told me it was safer to travel the world than be a homeless hermit in an apartment I was no longer entitled to. 🚘
I am not taking away from the actual homeless problem in California (and the US in general), but how many of our choices are really our own? How many of us are making irrational decisions every day based on mental illnesses, or fear (or depression), or perceptions of reality that don’t actually exist? TBH we’re all a little crazy.
Also, there are many homeless people who choose to be homeless. They don’t like society and they choose to live on the fringes of it. They choose freedom to be their weird ass selves. I get that.
I have the ability to work and earn enough for housing.
I guess that is the difference. I have blessings that make homelessness not scary. I have a family I can run to if things ever got too hard. I have an Ivy League degree that basically acts as a Get-A-Job-Free Credit Card whenever I choose to use it. I have friends with couches and mentors with spare bedrooms. I have a car. I have a roof when it rains. I have Instagram, and a blog, and a platform to share my stories so I don’t feel so alone. I shop at Goodwill to resell the clothes, not to wear them.
I grew up poor, and I always thought I stayed poor, but now I have this privilege that separates me from the actual people in need and that is so important to realize. I’m not looking down on anyone, in fact I tried really hard to become homeless myself, but appreciating my experience means realizing it for what it is: I am not homeless. I am loved and cared for and protected.
No matter how shitty you think your life is, look for the blessings. Literally, look at the next homeless person you see (buy them dinner) and then make a list of all the ways you are so freaking fortunate. You couldn’t blend in with them if you tried. What a fucking blessing.
Song of the Day: Girl On Fire x Alicia Keys