Reaching the Halfway Point of a Debt Free Journey
Half of My Six Figure Student Loans are Paid Off!
At the beginning of the month I crossed the halfway mark of my journey paying off $130,000 of student loan debt. Milestones like this seem so monumental on the approach, but as soon as you reach them they have a way of shrinking to nothing in the shadow of the next one. Last year, when I passed the barrier from six figures to five figures owing, it was thrilling at first but rapidly became ‘so I still have $99,000 of debt.’ I feel similarly now after the initial excitement of the halfway mark has worn off.
Logically, I know that the second half of my journey will take less time than the first. I paid off $10,000 in 2016 but $30,000 in 2017 – three times the previous year!! I know it’s ‘all downhill from here.’ Still, that $65,000 balance feels overwhelming regardless of the motivational quotes I read. I’m not sure at what point my student loans will stop feeling overwhelming though. When I’m under $50,000 owing? When I’m under $30,000 owing? When I’m at $0 owing?
It’s not that a weight hasn’t been lifted – it has! $65,000 seems like a whole new world compared to $130,000. When I look at how far I’ve come, I’m thrilled, and I’m grateful to have the income to do this and to do it so quickly relative to the initial balance. I just don’t want to be the kind of person who makes a post at the end of this journey and says ‘look what I accomplished!’ without sharing the complicated, messy, in between feelings. I don’t want to be the kind of person who pastes on a smile and says ‘I’m fine.’ Most of the time, I am fine. But I also have moments where I feel powerful, hopeless, impatient, stoic, bored, or energized – occasionally all within the same hour.
I’m on track to pay off another $30,000 at least this year, which is an insane amount of money to many people (it is to me too!), but it still feels empty sometimes. I want to move on and focus on things that matter to me now, and my past is sitting on my shoulder reminding me to check the rear-view mirror. It would hold me back regardless of how much focus I placed on it, because it’s something that will always be on my mind until it’s gone.
So that’s where I’m at.
It feels like I’m still living paycheck to paycheck.
It feels like I should already be finished.
It feels like I’m starting over.