Working hard by Lucy White ’19

Working hard is more than just “working hard”.

Overcoming every obstacle that society throws in your way.

Having the connections you wish you’d inherited from your family.

Putting dinner on the table with less than $10 a night.

Filling up the gas tank of your small 1990 sedan only a quarter of the way,

because you can’t afford the rest.

Packing boxes and other factory work consumes your 12-hour work days.

Guilt riddles your heart, because you know your children are at home,

with no food in the pantry and no toys to play with.

Applying for welfare, feeling the judgement of others who shame you for not “working hard


No matter how hard you work, no matter how many shifts you take, the money isn’t coming.

Barely scraping by with the rent of your one bedroom trailer in and of itself.

Minimum wage isn’t cutting it anymore.

You jump from job to job, hoping the pay will be better,

but every time, you’re wildly disappointed.

You think to yourself, wondering: “what would my life be like if I were born privileged, born

with wealthy parents in a nice suburban neighborhood?”

Living in the same trailer park you were raised in, working at the same jobs your parents worked,

your children living the same childhood you did.

You’ve worked so hard to get out, but just can’t find an escape from the never-ending poverty

cycle between generations.

You can’t breathe anymore, drowning in a sea of shame, self-hate, and unhappiness.

“Why don’t you just apply to college? Go to school and get a degree?”

How simple it is to say that looking from the outside in.

College is expensive, no matter if it’s a community college or university.

Your parents didn’t have enough to send you then, and you still don’t have enough today.

You don’t want your kids living with your college debt, living with the shame that their parent

burdened them with debt that could last forever.

They don’t know you. They don’t know how hard you’ve worked, how many hours you’ve put

  1. You’ve done the absolute best with the circumstances you’ve been given.

“You’re lazy”, they say.

“You shouldn’t have had kids; that was irresponsible”, society screams.

“If you put in the work, you can achieve any goal”, those who try to help say.

“It’s easy for them to say”, you think quietly to yourself,

because if you argue with them, stand up against them, you’ll be seen as crazy.

Working hard doesn’t equal success, anymore.

Success equals chance, luck, privilege.

Of which you know all too well, you don’t have.