What Does a Credit Score Really Say About You?

Is thou credit worthy?

Why is it that at times where we experience the worst, we have the best epiphanies? Why is it when we’re at the brink of a potential nervous breakdown, everything we were worried about until this very moment becomes obsolete?

The simple answer to this is because it just is. It is irrelevant. It is unimportant. It is so passe.

I believe that millennials get a terrible rep for the rotten few who refuse to showcase their ambitions, when in actuality we’re probably the generation placed under the most scrutiny. We work hard. We worry about finishing our degrees in time, we worry about the direction in which we chose to go with our careers and majors, we worry about bills, payments, the amount of money we’re making, and whether it is enough.

We worry about things we shouldn't even be worrying about yet... like retirement.

These things alone can drive a sane, relatively put-together person insane. Let’s add something that no one outside of the United States even bats an eye over: credit score.

It seems like in the United States, a person’s credit score might as well be their certificate of whether or not they’re an outstanding citizen. It seems to determine everything.

You want to move and live in a bigger place? Let’s check your credit score.

You want to get ahead and get a loan to start a business? Let me have a look at that credit score.

You want to buy a place so that you can finally be an owner and not a renter? Credit score, babe.

Just like gluten, I wondered for the longest time what the hell is a credit score anyway and why it is so important. As far as I’m concerned, all my bills are paid on time. When I have a little bit left over, I’ll devote that towards my savings or get ahead with a bill placed on a payment plan. In my mind, my money management is fair.

I also donate small, left over portions to my alma-mater to support driven, ambitious immigrant students as well as charitable causes like The Humane Society, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Feeding America.

According to my “credit score” though, it could be better. Seriously, if this “numerical expression” were a person, it’d be your 50-something year-old aunt that you see once a year at a Christmas family dinner, giving you the side eye across the dinner table wondering why the hell do you not have a man yet.

Naturally, it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Here’s why I’ve stopped worrying about my credit score. No matter how much I’ve paid off in credit card debt or bills, it still didn’t budge.

The textual definition, according to Credit Karma, of a credit score reads: It is a numerical expression based on a level analysis of a person’s credit files, to represent the creditworthiness of an individual. A credit score is primarily based on a credit report, information typically sourced from credit bureaus.

Ewww. What? Creditworthiness? It just seems like something a monarch would say before a knighting.

This definition and the sole premise of a credit score disgusts me. It feels like a filing system. It feels like a real life episode of Black Mirror where every resident is defined by a numerical value and thus their status, their position, their relationships, and the level with which they are taken seriously depends on that very value.

A credit score tells me that a single mother of four that keeps her children fed, clothed, and happy isn’t doing well because she’s behind on her car payment... yet again. It tells me that a student drowning in student loan debt, doesn’t deserve to live in that one bedroom condo because he’s too broke to make the interest payment. It tells me that someone who has fallen ill, forced to take medical leave, should be more careful with their health and make those gigantic medical payments as soon as possible or else... even though they had to take a slight pay cut.

Objectively, this system is not right because it makes people feel terrible about themselves and their stature for all the wrong reasons. In my mind, if we’re doing right by ourselves and others, and taking care of our basic human needs at the full front, then we're in a good place.

Based on my trajectory of contributions and bill payments then, my credit score should be outstanding and flourishing. Before I have people wondering how terrible my personal credit score may or may not be, let me be frank.

It’s not. It’s in the low 700s, but it'll take its dip every now and then which makes me feel horrible about myself. You get that notification when it drops or goes up and your heart kinda does a little flip, tumble, and turn.

I stopped worrying about it once my health took a turn for the worst in the recent months. I was so consumed with work and money and deadlines... and all of that stress, agony, and guilt eventually manifested itself in physical form.

I was pale white, sleep deprived, and completely rid of any appetite.

In the past two months, I had been admitted to the hospital five times for stomach inflammation, nausea, and abdominal pain and that was enough of a wake up call for me to slow down.

Here’s something I want everybody to know:

A credit score is nothing but a number that is bound to change. It’s a Coney Island roller coaster and we’re just along for the ride. It can be scary, exciting, breathtaking and oftentimes nauseating... but it’s a journey nevertheless.

It is not as big of a deal as people make it out to be. It is important, but not important enough to lose sleep over or compromise between paying for good organic groceries versus cheap, fast food.

A credit score will never and should never define you. If you’re doing your due diligence and meeting all of your personal, professional, and financial goals, then you’re okay. Don't be afraid to stop and smell the roses, enjoy your surroundings and the presence of your loved ones once in a while without having to worry about the occasional credit score dip. Remember that life happens.

At the end of the day, it’s important to check in with yourself and reiterate how you really feel. If you feel good with yourself on various levels, a numerical expression becomes yesterday’s news.

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Paulina Pachel

Contrary to popular belief, my first name is not pronounced PAH-LAYNA. I am an intricate mix of flavors and you'll get a taste of them through my writing pieces; versatility and vulnerability go together like a fresh-baked croissant+coffee.

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