Everybody has a story to tell. Everyone has had life experiences that will make us laugh, cry, and, most importantly, learn. When someone tells us their story, it is important for us to listen, and to see the lessons that it brings.
I was very honored when Jenny Creno, one of my readers, honored me with her story, and gave me permission to share it, along with the lessons she has learned from it.
Jenny was living a comfortable, “normal” life, attending college and studying journalism. But then the day came, when Jenny had to adjust to a new normal.
In Jenny’s case, the new normal was that her dad had been in a car accident and now needed to use a wheelchair. After only three semesters of college, Jenny returned home to be with her family and help out where she could. For two years, life was a blur as her dad tried various therapies, trying to regain his ability to walk.
Finally, Jenny’s family accepted that her dad would never walk again. According to Jenny, “It became normal, and normal is good.”
Life settled into a routine, and it was time for Jenny to return to school. Supporting her decision, Jenny’s parents paid for her to return, and even paid for her to live in an apartment, rather than a dorm, which would have been uncomfortable for her, returning at an older age than the students who generally live in dorms. Jenny states that, “[My parents] were my rocks. I couldn’t be more grateful for all they did to make my collegiate opportunity possible.”
Life continued this way, for a year and a half. Then, right before Christmas 2011, Jenny’s dad was admitted to the hospital, with health complications. Jenny spent her entire Christmas break at his side. Jenny said, “I couldn’t even imagine leaving his side, though he made me from time to time.”
Jenny returned to school, coming home every weekend to be with her dad. He was released from the hospital, and they both looked forward to these visits, as he continued to recover.
Then, in March, Jenny’s dad was admitted to the hospital once again. She was less worried this time, as “he was in great hands and he was himself; my big teddy bear of a daddy who used to take his dentures out and talk to me with them in his hands, such a nut he was.” So, Jenny felt comfortable returning to school.
A week later, Jenny was faced with another new normal. Her father unexpectedly passed away.
Losing a parent is never an easy experience, and for a young adult, it is even more difficult. According to Jenny, “Everything happened at once and I barely remember any of it to this day. All I know is I got on the next plane from school to home and I was with my family going through the motions of a wake, a funeral, and saying goodbye to the greatest man I ever knew, my daddy. Life has a funny way of slapping you in the face when you least expect it.”
You never “get over” losing a parent, but you do get back to life, and adjust to this new normal. After a month, Jenny returned to school. The death had changed her family’s financial situation, however, and Jenny now had to foot the bill. Jenny states that, “at that point I needed to get it together because I now had a car payment, rent, a phone bill, tuition, a car to fill with gas, a grocery list to buy; all on my own.” Life had forced Jenny to grow up, overnight.
Jenny had poor credit from some mistakes that she had made when she was younger, so getting the financial assistance she needed was difficult. According to Jenny, “I virtually had to convince someone to give me money on the honesty policy, which we all know isn’t the easiest thing to do.” She managed to get a low-limit credit card, and increased her limit by paying off every month. With the help of her school’s financial aid department, her mother, and a financial advisor, Jenny was able to use her credit to help her get through school.
This was definitely a difficult time in Jenny’s life, and she wasn’t sure that she could cope. However, Jenny persevered, and emerged better and stronger, learning a number of valuable lessons along the way.
Jenny came out of her experiences stronger and wiser. She submitted her story as a guest post on this blog, and was later offered a position with the company. According to Jenny, “It’s pretty crazy how just simply reaching out with your story and credentials can give you the right lead into something.”
As a very old-for-her-age 20-something, Jenny feels very compelled to share the learning from her experiences, so that she may help others.
These are the lessons that Jenny most wants to share:
1. Never give up. According to Jenny, “There certainly were times when I wanted to give up and almost did.” Persistence pays off.
2. Find support. Jenny says, “Thankfully I learned how to lean on my family, my friends, my support system who helped me through that difficult time.”
3. Be financially prepared for the unexpected. According to Jenny, not being ready, financially, “is one thing that made it all so hard, the thought of it all coming down on me while I had nothing.” Even young adults, who are just starting out, need to have a plan for supporting themselves in an emergency.
In addition to the above lessons, here are some emergency financial tips from Jenny:
- Look everywhere you can for scholarships and financial aid, if you are a student.
- A credit card, used responsibly, can also be helpful.
- Find whatever employment you can, to make ends meet, even if it isn’t what you want to be doing in the long run.
- And don’t be afraid to clip coupons!
Thank you, Jenny, for allowing me to share your story. Feel free to direct your comments to either Jenny or me, as we will both be responding to them. Also, please pay a visit to Jenny’s blog.