Stupid government/politics/media/people seem to have an obsession with tidying things neatly into boxes. And by things I often mean us. Are you a striver? Are you heading up the corporate ladder into the heavenly clouds of executive bathrooms and secret handshakes? Are you a scrounger? Do you, like your forefathers before you, scrounge money from the hardworking striver so you can smoke tabs on a sofa all day, chortling at how easy your life is?
Or like me, are you a happy no mark? I am not a striver. I am too happy to be a striver. A striver is never satisfied with what they have. A striver needs to keep trying harder and harder, reaching for the next goal, the next target, the next step up. Now this is brilliant if it is you, and I mean not to criticise at all. But it is not in my nature. In every job I have had I have worked incredibly hard, wanting to do the best I can. I am a firm believer in you get out what you put in, and I have always found satisfaction in a job well done. But I have never felt defined by my job, and have only ever viewed it as part of who I am. I have never had any concerns about people dismissing me as a lowly ‘shop worker’. If anyone wants to think less of me based on a tiny part of who I am then that is their issue, not mine. I feel on the whole comfortable in my non-ambitious suit. I find pleasure and reward in life in many ways.
It is an unfortunate fact that my low paid job, however hard I may work at it, does necessitate receiving some form of social security benefits to make ends meet. The wages just cannot meet the cost of living today. In fact I am currently a stay at home mum, because the cost of having my baby in childcare for a day was higher than the amount I earned, meaning it clearly makes economic sense for me to be at home with him for now, though I fully intend to re-enter the labour market as soon as he is old enough for pre-school. If there are any shops left to work in by then….
My partner is out of the house for work ten hours a day, five days a week. But we do still get a state contribution towards our rent, as well as child benefit and a modest amount of tax credits. In fact I think housing cost is the major issue. If the housing benefit system wasn’t having to pay out huge sums of rent to landlords who artificially inflated the housing marker by ‘buying to let’ in the first place, then the welfare bill would be considerably lower, and ‘scroungers’ like us could take pride in being able to pay our way in full.
As has been said by many before me, the attempt to separate a complex society into two simple camps on opposing sides, is merely a smoke screen to stop us realising that it is actually a bit shit for the majority. Those at the top don’t want the majority to turn on them, so they are hoping to pit us against each other. Well bollocks to them. I love you all, whatever you earn, whatever help you do or don’t need. People are not a burden. People are warm, lovely bundles of flesh and blood and emotions, good and bad. I would like to give them all a kiss. Well. Not all of them. But you, obviously, you I would kiss, the rest I would wave at in a friendly fashion that showed my solidarity while maintaining my personal space.
Bottom line, nothing is as simple as two boxes marked scrounger and striver. We are all just people, and in 99.9% of cases we are all just doing our best to make ends meet, work hard and have a happy life. I strive for happiness, I scrounge for nothing, I am just a person living her life the best way I can.