Writing a personal essay is more art than science. Discussing money — what you or your family has or lacks — is tricky under the best of circumstances. Doing both well is harder still, especially if you’re a teenager and a committee of grown-ups will sit in judgment on whatever you produce.
Each year, we invite essayists to forward their work to us after they’ve submitted their thoughts on money, work, social class and related matters as part of their college applications. At their best, they inspire a kind of empathy, even if money is not on your mind all that often.
This time, we find ourselves in the human resources department with a racing mind; the kitchen as a daughter observes her mother making do; the car, driving many miles for so many reasons; the house, stuffed with way too much; and the head of a young woman wondering if her soft hands bring honor upon her family.
To write this way about these topics requires perspective, about who has what and why and how. But it also demands bravery — to go where most people don’t, including a lot of adults.
Intro written by Ron Lieber, photo editor Renee Melides