I have class anxiety
Aug 8, 2019
Season 1 | Episode 9

I have class anxiety

A listener struggles to navigate all the unspoken rules of middle-class life.

Remember the Plastics?

They’re the cool clique, the “teen royalty” led by Rachel McAdams’ Regina George in the 2004 classic “Mean Girls.”

And at “Mean Girls'” North Shore High, along with most other high schools real and fictional, “cool” was a synonym for “rich.”

In real life, those cliques don’t disband after high school, and they’re still based largely on money. We tend to hang out with people of similar incomes and backgrounds. And reaching out from those groups, or landing in a new one, can be really tricky.

That brings us to listener Wen Wen Yang. She wrote to us last month asking for a “guide to the middle class.” Yang grew up poor in the Bronx but now she’s making more money than either of her parents put together.

Wen Wen Yang's professional headshot.
Wen Wen Yang (Courtesy: Wen Wen Yang)

Now Yang finds herself cataloging all the small differences she’s noticed between herself and her new peers in the middle class, terrified of outing herself as someone who doesn’t belong. This movie doesn’t end.

On this week’s show, we’ll hear Yang’s story and from some of you about what it’s like trying to fit into a class where you don’t feel like you belong. Plus, we talk to an expert about whether people really notice any of these class differences, anyway.

By the way, Yang reached out when we asked listeners what made them uncomfortable about money. If you have an uncomfy money story to tell, let us know here.

The future of this podcast starts with you.

We know that as a fan of “This Is Uncomfortable,” you’re no stranger to money and how life messes with it — and 2023 isn’t any different.

As part of a nonprofit news organization, we count on listeners like you to make sure that these and other important conversations are heard.

Support “This Is Uncomfortable” with a donation in any amount and become a Marketplace Investor today.

The team

Megan Detrie Senior Producer
Hayley Hershman Senior Producer
Phoebe Unterman Producer

Thanks to our sponsors