Talking or thinking about money, for most of us stress is inevitable. In Pakistan where primary earners are often thinking of generations before and after them the weight only grows heavier.
And though money being stressful seems to be a shared feeling, people rarely talk about it, making financial pressures and burdens incredibly lonely.
We spoke to a number of Pakistani men about how they feel about money issues and their fears and loneliness.
“I can’t talk to my family about it because I feel guilty, everything I am is because of them,” said Muzzamal, originally from Lahore, he works abroad and sends money back. “I also don’t really feel comfortable talking about it with friends here that I send money home that what I earn is not just for me but for the whole family.”
When asked if that felt lonely, he said, “honestly, yes, which is also hard to say outloud.”
“It is quite lonely. You cannot share your economic shortfalls with parents as they’ll stress over it, which you don’t want either,” said Hamza who is studying to be a Civil Servant. “Not all of us are close to families or even friends to talk freely about how we feel about a certain thing/topic.”
With rising inflation and Pakistan’s economy taking a number of hits exasperated by floods and political instability; the frustration is only growing. Planning for the future has been especially tough for some Pakistani men.
“I can't speak for everyone but personally, being the eldest, I was somehow preconditioned into thinking about my family, my siblings and expenses before taking any decision in life,” Shamyl shared with us.
A student in Rawalpindi, Shamyl shared the sentiments many sons feel, that they have a responsibility to their family – whether it’s been explicitly said or not.
“It's weird man. It's saddening to. I don't even want to go for a masters because of the expense even though my parents want me to. I feel terrible and I don't want to keep using their money,” said Shamyl. “With this economy, all this just gets inexplicable times worse and I fear that I will not be able to provide the same living and class standards to my parents, siblings and family as my hardworking parents provided to me.”
Abdullah, who works in Islamabad, similarly shared how he finds it hard to see a future where he can match the lifestyle his parents provided for him.
“I feel like I'm always failing to catch up. I will most definitely not be able to replicate what my parents could do,” said Abdullah. “I'll most likely go downward in class mobility in a few years.”
When asked if he spoke to family or friends about this, Abdullah shared that never with family and maybe here and there with friends, but mostly, “I don’t talk about it.”
“I think about once a day I think about how long realistically I can last here; I am one injury or health scare away from being completely broke and I am terrified,” said Ali who works in Karachi. “And I struggle to say it out loud, that I am scared and feel alone. I wish more of us talked about this, because we all live here so we must all be feeling it right?”