I Went to One of the Most Expensive Boarding Schools in the Nation, and Now I Suffer From Feeling Like I Wasn’t Worth the Money My Parents Invested in Me.
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I Went to One of the Most Expensive Boarding Schools in the Nation, and Now I Suffer From Feeling Like I Wasn’t Worth the Money My Parents Invested in Me.

If you also get debilitating anxiety over your ability to pay for graduate school as you spend $5 for an ice cream cone at 19 years old, then I would suggest not attending one of the most expensive boarding schools in the country. Trust me, it's for your own sanity – as I sit here losing mine.

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I Went to One of the Most Expensive Boarding Schools in the Nation, and Now I Suffer From Feeling Like I Wasn’t Worth the Money My Parents Invested in Me.

Aside from the remarkable education and life-long friendships I carried with me after I *virtually* graduated from The Lawrenceville School, there was something else I unknowingly also carried out with me. Only, I wish I didn't.

Growing up in a family whose parents continuously reminded us that we "weren't a private school family", it was understandable when my two older sisters looked down on my brother and me with annoyance, frustration, and (even if they won't admit it) a bit of jealousy when we both ended up transferring to private school for high school. Beyond just the private school aspect, it didn't help that my high school is ranked one of the tops in the nation….in tuition price. My high school was more expensive than my older sister's college tuition. Yeah, that's fun. There are a couple reasons why I really hate talking about my school's top standing (in tuition), but one of these reasons I have always kept to myself – until now.

Money has always been anxiety-inducing for me. Until later in my high school years, I hated shopping, especially for clothes. I hated finding a piece of clothing I liked, just to look at the price tag and then drop it faster than my jaw could drop. Whereas my mom had to limit my sister to buy only two of the ten shirts she picked out, my mom practically had to fight me to pick out clothes for her to buy. It wasn't that I didn't like clothes, it was that I could never fathom buying something that expensive for myself. Despite being the "P.C." (politically correct) person I am, I was so taken aback by the price of clothing that I resorted to buying from fast-fashion stores instead of the more expensive, but probably more ethical, production method. Money really stressed me out.

I was never really sure why money stressed me out so much: I grew up in a family that never needed to worry about when the next paycheck was going to roll in, I was rarely ever paying with my own money – always my parents, and I was just a kid! But the fear over needing to create a savings strong enough to survive paying for graduate school, to survive paying my eventual rent, and just to survive inhibited me from ever wanting to see that number in my bank account decrease. I knew it was abnormal compared to most other people, but I just thought it was the way I was wired – nothing in particular. And well, lol, turns out it was the way I was wired. I just got diagnosed the other week with an obsessive-compulsive disorder when it comes to money. Surprise for everyone but the seven people I've told!

And while the emotions that encompass you after getting diagnosed with a mental illness is a topic for a another article (because, wow, that sh*t hits different), this diagnosis really opened my eyes to the actual reason behind my fear. And a lot of it stems from the high school I attended.

If you are unaware, I transferred to Lawrenceville after my sophomore year of public school to join the girl's ice hockey program. I was the only girl on my public high school hockey team during my freshman year, and one of two my sophomore year – it wasn't really the vibe. And for my parents, if I could get into a school of that academic caliber then I was sure as hell going to enroll. Despite all the lows I had while at Lawrenceville, I learned more about myself in those three years than I had in the sixteen before them and I met the role models that my children will one day also look up to. It was an experience that I would do all over again if I had to. But there's still one low that has accompanied me beyond the Lawrenceville gates that I really wish hadn't, something that helps me to understand my OCD around money. OCD is not just a fear of having everything in front of you perfectly aligned, or perfectly spaced on the paper, or perfectly sanitized. Sure, that fear might accompany it, but that fear is really just a concrete side effect of an arbitrary fear you may be suppressing. Mine is not being good enough.

You must be pretty damn smart or athletic, or both, to have your parents pay over $60k a year for a high school education. You must be pretty damn elite in one aspect of your life to have that $60k be worth it for a high school education. But I wasn't that smart. And I wasn't that good at hockey. I was just, well, mediocre. But that's fine if I can take that experience in the classroom and on the ice onto something bigger, something I never could've reached or accomplished if I didn't attend Lawrenceville. Okay, but what if I don't?

Contrary to popular belief, I was not happy or proud of myself when I first realized I was going to enroll to William and Mary. I might have looked excited and relieved, but I cannot genuinely say I was. Even though I loved the campus and knew it was the place I absolutely belonged, I felt as though I could have gotten into this school even if I finished my high school years at Montgomery. I thought that the money my parents paid for those three years I spent at Lawrenceville wasn't worth it. I thought I failed them, even if they wouldn't admit it to me.

I also thought that this feeling would stay at Lawrenceville after I walked out the gates for the last time. It didn't. Now I fear that the money spent on Lawrenceville isn't going to be worth it if I don't get into a respectable law school. Now I fear that the money spent on Lawrenceville isn't going to be worth it if I end up working at a non-profit or as a public defender and barely make enough money to get by. Now I worry that the money spent on Lawrenceville isn't going to be worth it if I decide to stay at home with my kids after working for only a few years before. My parents, literally, invested in me. And I am going to spend the rest of my life worrying if it paid off. And yes, let me remind you, I am a freshman in college right now, having a severe fear over what my life will look like a decade or two from now. But it all stems back to never feeling good enough; I don't feel like I deserved to have that much money spent on me. And I feel like I constantly need to prove to my sisters who weren't allowed to apply to private school, and to my parents who paid for one of the most expensive high school's in the nation, and most of all to myself, that I was worth it. That I was good enough to spend that kind of money on.

You know, it's a really tough pill to swallow to realize that you don't really believe in yourself. I know if I put my mind to something, I will do it, but there will always be that other side of me that will never allow me to think that I did it good enough. It's like there's this other person living inside of me, yet it's not another person, it's myself. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will feel okay with spending money, or if this is going to be a lifelong thing. If I'll ever be able to genuinely enjoy a night out with my friends, or if it will always be accompanied by the pit inside my stomach, worrying about what that bill is going to look like at the end of the night. It's something that I know I just have to push through, but that doesn't make it any easier.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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