I will never forget that May Wednesday morning when I got the district court’s decision to bankrupt my business. I sat on the hallway floor paralyzed to shame. I think the point about this is everyone knows, and when everyone knows, everything is lost.
Latitudes like “a newly bankrupt entrepreneur is a real entrepreneur” or “All good entrepreneurs have filed many bankruptcies” don’t help at the moment when it feels like career and professionalism, dignity, and self-esteem are instilled in the concrete seabed. It may sound dramatic, but that feeling was very real. That’s what it felt like: dripping to the bottom.
I was lucky, in many ways. Once the district court’s bankruptcy decision was made, I still received surprising and decisive help from close associates — both financial and informational. The chaos of less than a week began, at the end of which, exactly one week after the bankruptcy decision, I received the decision to cancel the bankruptcy. I am eternally grateful, although I do not know all the words to dress up yet.
While positive talk of money has increased, economic difficulties are still a silent topic. The paralysis caused by shame is very concrete: it feels physical, it feels mental, and it feels social. I couldn’t even handle my situation by crying. Shame numbs reason and a sense of reality: everything is unreal when one does not want to believe the situation is true. Talking about the situation was a melted impossibility before everything was already too far advanced. Crying only came on the hallway floor when I thought everything was over.
The number of defaults has been on the rise for the past decade. Especially for young people under the age of 30, financial difficulties are constantly increasing. The easy access to consumer credit and quick levers and the indebtedness resulting from taking them are often blamed for the development. However, the story of not all indebted people doesn’t start with a quick tip. There are many reasons behind this: exhaustion, mental health problems, unemployment, and hopelessness.
“Own stupidity,” many think when they hear of indebtedness. In money matters, the mocha is reckless, irresponsible, and unworthy. There are many prejudices and assumptions. Help is available, but to get it you must first overcome your shame. It’s anything but easy.
There is a strong stigma associated with economic problems, which, unfortunately, is also supported by societal practices. The names of those convicted of a crime are not mentioned when news of, for example, drug or violent crimes is reported. But when an entrepreneur is in financial trouble, albeit only momentarily, the names and amounts are on public disgrace lists. Insolvency entries for individuals remain on the register for a long time, even if the debts are already in care. The mental burden remains even if the financial burden has already been borne.
It’s now a few months since that May Wednesday morning. It is still difficult to speak, as shame is still present every day. However, the feeling has changed: now it is also a shame to be ashamed. That Wednesday, I was afraid that soon everyone would find out. I am writing this so that everyone will know. The more we talk about financial difficulties, the less they are shamed. And the fewer problems are shed, the easier it is to get help and the faster they can be overcome.