I'm Not Broke Anymore, And I'm Terrified

“I’m sorry, can you say that one more time?” That was my response to the recruiter who’d just revealed my new job’s salary. She repeated the offer, and though I wanted to shout my assent from the top of my lungs, I was in the middle of an empty coffee shop, plus I didn’t want to scare her off. Besides, it’s not like I won the lottery. I was simply being offered more money than I’d made at any point in my 11-year career as a journalist.
Four months into my new job, I still don’t know if the money I’m making is good or just decent, but it has changed my life in ways that are both meaningful and terrifying.

My first purchase with this fresh windfall was a plane ticket to Chicago for the funeral of my close friend’s dad. A sympathy card and a night of drinks on me sometime in the future would’ve sufficed, and had this personal tragedy occurred one month sooner than it did, when I was a part-time features reporter making one-third as much as my live-in girlfriend, a card and drinks would’ve been the best I could do. But now, I could afford to do more, and so I did.
Of course, I was proud of myself, but my actions also scared me. To quote 50 Cent, “Whoever said money shouldn’t change you just didn’t make enough.” That popped into my head as I drove to the church in my rental car (another necessary but scary expense for me). Was my in-person visit about being the best friend I could be, or simply being the friend I could afford to be?...more