It's funny how you can go from living your best life without a care in the world, to hitting rock bottom in one fell swoop.
In May of 2017, that's what happened to me.
For roughly a year and a half, I seemingly had all I ever wanted out of my young adult life. I was a wide-eyed, New York City transplant with nothing but ambition and opportunities within arm's reach. Not only did I have the fancy advertising gig with a buzzing social life to go along with it, but I was blessed to find a hip apartment in Bed-Stuy of which I had always dreamed. To sum it up, nothing could stop me.
Or so I thought.
Clearly, life had another plan for me because within just a week, everything was snatched right from under my feet.
I went from living a functionally independent lifestyle, to not having a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. Before I knew it, I was back at home, living with my sister in the small town I called home.
In the last year and a half, I've experienced changes in my finances, career, and even relationships that took a major hit to my confidence. If you've ever experienced shifting from having the ability to create a means for yourself, to suddenly having to rely on the grace of others, you may understand how humbling this change can be.
At some point or another, we all may experience a season where we fall on hard times or have to make major adjustments to the life we once knew. In most cases, it's not by choice, a result of "laziness," or the lack of ambition. Sometimes, unfortunate things happen to even the hardest working of people. That's life.
In my experience, it wasn't necessarily money and a handout from my friends and family. What I needed the most was for my loved ones to be kind and loving to me during that rough transitional period in my life. It's easy to say that someone "isn't doing enough" when they don't get back on their feet in record time, but everyone's path is different. Take it from me.
To say the least, your "broke" friends need love too. Here's where you can start:
When you have a friend or loved one who has fallen on hard times, practicing patience with them is the kindest and most gracious thing you can do. You don't always know what God is doing in that season of their life, so rushing them won't make things turn around any faster. Someone who is experiencing a life shift like losing a job or being homeless can be affected on a mental and emotional level. They can go through depression or even withdraw from those around them and it's in those moments when they're going to need a friend and a sister more than ever. Be kind. If you see them slipping, give them a gentle nudge; but don't pry.
Give Only If You Can.
When dealing with a friend who has fallen on hard times, there will be moments when they may look to you for some assistance. It's completely up to you whether or not you want to supply your friends with funds, but in the case you do, no loans. Think about it: if you have a friend who is struggling financially, what is the logic in having them owe you when they didn't have the means to begin with? We don't want to add more debt to their name, now do we? Only give if it's not going to put you in a bind and you're confident that you can go without that particular amount of money without needing it back, ever.
There's nothing sweeter than having a friend open the door for another friend – both figuratively and literally. In fact, there's nothing wrong with a little nepotism if you have a sound understanding of your friend's character and work ethic. If you know your job has an opening that your friends would be a good fit for, use your leverage to pass their name along to HR. Even if you don't know of any opportunities, keeping the line of communication open by being a go-to reference for a friend during the tedious application process is a big deal. This will show them that you're in their corner and want them to win!
Love for Free.
We all want to live a little and have a good time, but it can be a bummer to miss out on social activities simply because you can't afford it. Although you have the right to spend your hard earned cash the way you darn well please, every now and again, it's nice to mix things up a bit so that you can include your "broke" friend. Try to incorporate some free fun or low-cost activities into the equation. Check out free events at the museum like "First Fridays," catch up over a cup of coffee on a discount day, or even use a Saturday night for an evening of binge-watching a new Netflix series (I heard Manic was good). Get creative. The coin-saving possibilities are endless and your friend will appreciate you all the more for it.