I have been feeling very self-conscious lately around one of my closest friends. We are both attending college but live off campus and commute to school. I am in school full time, and am fortunate enough to have my parents pay for my tuition and rent while I am in school.
My friend however, is working to put herself through school and pays for her own rent and personal expenses. I grew up learning that talking about money wasn’t very polite, so it makes me very uncomfortable when my friend constantly asks me intrusive questions about my cost of living and how I am paying for it all. She often talks about her own personal expenses as well, including how much her rent is and how much she is making at her job. I can’t help but feel judged by her because of the fact that I am not yet self-sufficient. She often makes snide comments about people whose parents help provide for them. It makes me feel self-conscious to go anywhere with her that involves spending money.
I have let her know on more than one occasion that it makes me feel uncomfortable to talk about it, but it doesn’t seem to stop her. I feel like she feels superior to me because she is providing for herself and I am not. I think she is also under the impression that I don’t work hard, which is very frustrating. How do I stop feeling self-conscious about this? How do I let her know that it is an impolite subject to talk about?
Thanks for your email! I can totally relate to this. During college and a couple years after, I relied on my parents a bit for income but was also extremely hard-working. I was very self-conscious about it as well, but realized most of that self-consciousness was coming from within. We often project onto other people what we fear within ourselves. So for example, maybe you judge yourself for not being self-sufficient yet or worry that it means you’re not hardworking. So then you assume others think that as well. The truth is, there are going to be people that think that, but that doesn’t make it true. Before you worry about how your friend feels, you need to focus on how you genuinely feel about it. Are you secure about the fact that your parents help you? Do you doubt your ability to be self-sufficient?
For me, I realized I was judging myself so it made me self-conscious. I had to build up my own confidence and truly believe I am a hard-working individual who is genuinely grateful for my parents help. I knew that I didn’t take advantage of them, and that I genuinely wanted to be self-sufficient and was doing everything I could to get there. Once I was able to feel that, it didn’t matter what others thought or how they may have judged me.
People our age do talk about money more openly so there’s nothing you can do about that except do what feels comfortable to you. If your friend makes a comment about people who rely on their parents, you should respond and tell her (in a calm, non-attacking way) that when she says those things, it makes you wonder if she’s judging you or thinks you’re not hard working. She may even be more stressed about her own life and having to make enough money on her own, that it just makes her feel better to put down people who are in your situation. And if she were in your situation, she would probably happily accept the help from her parents – and that doesn’t make her (or you) a bad person.
Let me know if this helps and don’t be so hard on yourself!