CitiBank, I’m Trying Hard to Pay You Back

I am a graduate of New York University, and this part of my identity people say – and I tend to agree with them – is something I should be very proud of. This bachelor’s degree could only be obtained at a a high price however, as I now owe CitiBank a little over $105,000.

What’s upsetting me personally is not the total amount of my debt (which nevertheless is an extremely upsetting amount) but my current predicament in which I am about $1600 overdue on my loan payments. Even after having obtained a job as a tutor for a non-profit company, it still feels impossibly difficult to meet my monthly payments, which currently stands at about $860 per month.

I am upset because I feel like a thief. My credit will soon be ruined probaly beyond repair but that doesn’t bother me much as the simple fact that I owe someone something, that I spent someone else’s money and now they’re asking me to give it back tiny percentage of it at a time, and I just can’t do it. My conscience is eating away at me daily and I’m forced to ponder, How did it come to this? What can I do?

Two months ago, out of desperation, I responded to a paper mail I got from Discover Bank. Discover had mailed me a promotion code and a blank application form so that I could request a personal loan from them. My credit score at the time was pretty good (720) so I went onto the Discover website, typed in the promtion code that I had received, and actually applied for a $25,000 loan. It was a desperate attempt, a plan to take out yet another loan to eliminate the other loans I was currently burdened with. I hoped that his loan would help me become secure enough with my living expenses for a number of months so that I could just concentrate on obtaining a better-paying job opportunity. I only needed an yearly income of about $26,000 or so to live fairly comfortably (and donate a tiny portion of my income regularly) while also being able to meet all my debt payments.

My request for that 25 grand loan was ulimately rejected. Discover explained the reason behind the decision concisely and professionally; it was because I had too many (three) credit cards, and my balance on those cards were too high. It was a very good explanation. I would have issued the same decision if I was on that end of the process. The fact that the loan request was out of utter desperation was far too conspicuous.

I still don’t know quite what to think about that result though. On the one hand, that loan would have been really nice for me to have. It couodbhave given me a second chance at fixing this horrendous fnancial srtrut I was in. Yet, the loan itself was a risky thing. The concept of taking out a loan to pay off another loan is still an alien concept to me and perhaps if Discover had approved my request, I may have ended up being stuck in a darker, deeper tunnel.

It’s interesting how I have come to be in this state. A month before I was to graduate NYU, I had planned things out, that I’d land some kind of job position, any kind of position in a non-profit organization, work there for two or three years to build experience and obtain good professional references, so that I can ultimately go into grad school, obtain a Master’s in Social Work, and get involved in work that fought to eliminate poverty and help formerly incarcerated individuals readjust to society. I anticipated that my entry-level position in a non-profit company wouldn’t provide me with enough income to make the monthly loan payments so I hoped my mom could assist me with couple of hundred dollars every month. I was a spoiled only child and as much as I hated the concept, to build myself up as a social worker valuable to a commnity of struggling individuals, I was willing to swallow my pride, reluctantly disregard the notion of Asian honor to elders and parents, and take advantage of my undeserved, privileged socio-economic status.

Three weeks before the graduation date, this plan had to be demolished. At that time, I didn’t know the impact my parents’ decision would have on my life. On January, four months before my expected graduation day, my dad had moved from Bakersfield, California to Clarksville, Tennessee. He had been struggling with co-patoring his church in California so when a even more troubled church in Tennessee requested a pastor to asssist them and lead them, my dad took the call. My mom remained in California, continuing her work as a registered nurse in the local private Catholic hospital. It was an interesting family situation, splitting us three family members up in very different parts if the United States, with me in New York City, my mom in a rural suburbia in California, and my dad preaching near a military base on Fort Campbell.

When this rather interesting situation developed into one which my mom no longer had a job and had to relocate to Tennessee, my plans for my future had to be put on an indefinite hold. Instead of job-searching, my months as a college graduate were mostly spent in my parents’ church in Tennessee, with me often acting as a translator, being part of the youth group praise team by playing my violin and guitar, assisting with the organization and the maintenance of the church’s sunday school for children, among other related activities. I ended up staying in Tennessee until mid-September, up to the day my dad was officially inaugurated as the chirch’s senior pastor.

The timing of my return to New York felt like it couldn’t have been worse. Many of the AmeriCorps positions I wished to apply for had closed up for the year, and with the holday season and New Year’s approaching, the job market was extremely tough to crack. After all the job searching and the writing of cover letters and the interviewing, the only job experience I was able to obtain was as a street canvasser for ASPCA for four exciting yet short-lived days.

I’m attributing a lot of the blame to what my situation was like, but of course I have to be honest here and admit that my incapabilities and my tendency to be lazy were attributive factors as well. I often felt guilty for wasting time playing video games or watching YouTube videos, instead of writing more cover letters and applying to more jobs, instead of being more active in seeking out and being involved in volunteer activities. I hated my situation and I many times hated myself just as much. Each day consisted of sweat, of excuses, and lots and lots of regrets. This is, at least in my case, how it’s like to be fresh out of college, burdened with a debt that’s unfathomably huge.

I want you to know though, my dear CitiBank, though I don’t answer most of your collection calls, and yes, I can notice my cellphone vibrating when you call me thrice a day, I just want you to know that I really really am trying my best to pay you back. I appreciate how kind and understanding you guys sound when I do answer the phone and talk to you. It breaks my heart to be in this situation, but please don’t hold it against me too much. If I could have, I promise you that I would have not chosen to be in this sort of predicament.