I’m not going to lie to you, this is hard to write about. Last week I talked about my defining moment (which you can read about here if you missed it). The time in between when I left college and when I retook control of my life again was the hardest phase of my life. I had never known what food insecurity even was. The term was foreign to me. I didn’t know what it was like to feel hungry all the time and wonder when I would next eat. And the experience changed me forever.
Food insecurity – what is it?
If you are just as unfamiliar with the term as I was, let me break it down as I knew it. Food insecurity is when you aren’t sure about when you will next eat, what you will eat next or if you will ever eat… again. It is one of the most terrifying feelings. To not know if or when you will be able to meet this basic need puts you in a very specific state-of-mind.
How does this happen?
In my case, my boyfriend and I both got jobs. We slept on a friends floor until we could afford an apartment and we had a car, phone, bills – the whole thing. So why did we not have a steady supply of food? In a word, decisions.
My boyfriend had quite a few credit cards that he needed to make payments on. The truck needed gas to get us to work and the rat-infested apartment needed to be paid for. We weren’t extravagant in our bills but we did faithfully pay all those credit card bills on-time. And, as a result, we rarely had money for food. After both our paychecks we had $20, for two weeks worth of groceries, for both of us.
And that meant ramen. We would share a pack or two of ramen noodles for dinner. No breakfast, no lunch, occasionally we would splurge and add an egg to the ramen. My 105-pound frame, already considered underweight, dropped down into the 90-pound range. I looked ill and I felt worse. I went to work every day and tried to distract myself through my lunch hour, watching other people eat while I just sat there and lied about how I wasn’t hungry so no one would know.
Why did we choose food insecurity?
Food insecurity happens for many reasons. We chose not to prioritize food but at the time I had no idea it was a choice I was making. I thought it was outside my control. We were both working, we were being responsible and paying our bills. I didn’t know there was food assistance we could have gotten. I didn’t know about food pantries, soup kitchens or welfare. We didn’t think for a second about not paying those credit card bills on-time. Looking back, there were options, but we were oblivious to them.
Not everyone chooses food insecurity so please don’t misunderstand me. This is my story and I don’t claim that this is the way it happens for everyone. No matter how it happens it is devastating and it will change you.
How food insecurity changed my life
The lesson I took away from this period in my life was that you should never judge other people’s circumstances. I received so much judgment during this phase of my life. People thought they were really trying to help me by telling me how much I screwed up. What I really needed was compassion… and food.
It’s pretty damn hard to try and accomplish any kind of bigger dreams when you can’t get away from the hunger pain deep in your stomach. You don’t make the best decisions because you aren’t focused on the future, but on where your next meal is coming from.
The immediacy of need outweighs any forethought that could save you.
My experience with food insecurity is one of my main reasons for starting this business. I don’t want other people to suffer because they don’t get the support they need. Maybe you aren’t food insecure right now, but maybe you can’t get away from the curveballs life always seems to throw at you. Maybe you have dreams you think will never happen because daily life is taking up all your attention.
Please hear me, friend, it’s okay. It’s okay that you are overwhelmed and feeling crazy stressed right now – because this phase doesn’t have to last forever. Use your dissatisfaction to try something new – to make a change that can get you out of a place of stress and into a place of rest.
Does that sound too hard? Are you afraid to go it alone? I understand. I’ve been there. I am here for you. If you need a friend, a coach, a cheerleader – don’t wait. Take the first step towards peace, click here to contact me and let’s get going! I can’t wait to hear from you.