Being financially independent has taught me a lot of invaluable skills. I’m not as frugal as I could be, but I’m very conscientious of where and how I spend my money. Managing monthly bills, making sure I mail my rent check on time, and keeping my pantry stocked isn’t always easy, but I’ve been able to do it without giving up Vegan Family Dinners, coffee dates or nights at bars. Though I really do wish my friends liked drinking in bars a bit less- it’s so much more expensive than drinking at home. And there aren’t any uncomfortable encounters with strangers at home!
The hardest part of being fiscally independent has been figuring out healthcare. When I turned 21, I was kicked off the military health insurance I’ve had my entire life. That coverage was amazing… I don’t think I ever had to paid for anything- which is significant because I spent an extraordinary percentage of my childhood in hospitals. Unfortunately, this lifetime of free healthcare (what an idea!) has left me with absolutely no understanding of how to navigate the privatized healthcare industry. I’m still having a hard time figuring out why healthcare is an industry at all.
I was able to buy basic coverage from my school, but it doesn’t include things like dental and vision. Which means I have to pay for those ‘amenities’ out-of-pocket. I have terrible vision, and really need those yearly exams. I was down to my last pair of contacts, and my glasses are already two prescriptions old… so I had to bite the bullet and go in for an exam today.
I found a clinic that only charged about $100 for an exam… but it was definitely less comprehensive than the exams I’ve had before. I felt a bit cheated, and don’t totally trust the quality of the care I received. Plus, I had to have my eyes dilated. When I was still insured by the ‘we’ll pay for anything!’ US military, I had a photograph taken of my eyes instead of dilation. That wasn’t even an option today. I’m incredibly sensitive to every kind of drug there is, and those dilation drops did not go well for me. My irises have been absent for the past six hours. I look like someone from a horror film. I have an awful migraine. The brightness is turned all the way down on my computer screen and I’m wearing sunglasses, but I still have a dull pain.
I guess this is just the way life in your early 20s goes sometimes. I’m lucky to have access to any sort of optometry care, and I’m even more lucky to have the means to pay for an exam, new contacts and glasses. It’s thrown a serious wrench into my budget at an unfortunate time (oh, hey there, textbooks!) but things could be much much worse. I do need to stop looking at lights, though. Ouch.
Here’s a picture I made in MS Paint. I’m a really talented artist.