Ever since I suited up in cap and gown and accepted my high school diploma, I’ve been a bit anxious about where I’m going in life.
There’s much to consider. I need to make money. Good money. I want to live comfortably. I want to give my future children everything they want. I want to be able to stand on my own feet if I ever become a divorcé or a single parent. I want to drive a car I’m proud of and own a home that’s warm and roomy enough for all my family and all my friends. I want a closet full of clothes, shoes and accessories that are high end and just my taste. When it comes time to get my child their first car I want to be able to help. When my mother grows old I want to be able to help. When it’s time to put my children in basketball or cheerleading or even college I want them to not worry about the side costs and where they will find the money to participate. When I’m older I want to retire peacefully and gracefully grow old without my family stressing on the costs of my sustaining.
Then- I want to enjoy what I do. I want to crack a smile at the thought of my contribution to society. I want to be passionate and talented and tireless in my work. I want to be respected in my work place and independent. I want to feel as though my schedule fits my life, and I have time for for career and my duties at home. To not hate mondays. To feel not only be financially but emotionally rewarded by my work. I want to expand and spill over with all the potential I have without anyone capping me. To never have someone hold my job over my head. I don’t even want to call it a job. I want to genuinely call it a career.
I just need enough in my pockets and enough in my heart. Then maybe- I can go on living the stretch of 70, 80, 90 years in this life content.
Except, I’ve gone over and gone over it. I’ve changed my mind I don’t know how many times. I wanted to be a lawyer- too much school. School equals time and crazy debt. I wanted to be a cheerleading/dance coach. Too little money. How will I support myself or my family? I wanted to be a beautician. Not all it was cracked up to be. I wanted to come back and work my way up the corporate ladder in banking. Never happens or takes too long, not a easy work culture to drive through.
I’m an artist, though. But if I just decided one day to quit my day job and indulge myself in my writing, drawing or painting- We’ll starve. As much as my memory could be romanticized by my art, my son won’t be left with much. How will we ever afford the things we need if I cannot help my spouse? A single income just doesn’t cut it for a family anymore. Unless that single income is a huge one. Let’s be honest-most of us don’t have that “huge” income. So both parents need to work.
That brings us here. To the in between.
Right now. I’m a barista. Because I’m going to start school once again, and like much of us, I can’t only go to school without some sort of income on the side. Because I’m not living under my parents roof. How I would love to continue working somewhere I’m qualified to make probably 2-5 more dollars an hour, I’m making cents above minimum wage because these are the only jobs that have any sort of schedule flexibility. Even when you ask for that, you lose hours because you’re being accommodated. Nobody likes to accommodate. You learn that when you get on your own too.
You could say I’m “in between things.”
I’ve been like this for a while. It doesn’t sit right with me. Come to think of it, I haven’t quite been sitting right since I did suit up and accept my high school diploma.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘oh shut it. If you can’t do something you love, do something you like. Compromise. Go to school for something, at least you’ll be making good money later.’
You know what I hear? SETTLE.
I hear, spend years going to college for something that grows increasingly uninteresting as you go. Take and pay for a spew of classes that are irrelevant to the trade, then finally, just take your diploma and your bill. Your life-long bill that will cut into your income until you actually die. Hopefully I’ll take care of it before my son has to. Then I’ve got to be a new graduate finding a job where the positions call for a minimum 5-10 years experience. Hm. Better take an internship huh? Unpaid. No benefits. No promise of a job after the fact.
Wouldn’t you be excited at the thought as well?
No? Well here’s your other options: Make cents above minimum wage for the rest of your life, try to work your way up the slippery narrow corporate ladder, or work for yourself- which is non existent or no guaranteed income for a good while if ever. Take your pick.
Is it really a wonder why we never know what the hell we are going to do with our lives?
The story may be different for you if you come from a family of means. Even a little bit. I mean, I’m speaking from nothing. I mean it. My whole adult life I’ve actually made more than my mother per hour. She’s a CNA, has been for 20+ years. It’s a gritty, hard, thankless job. Do you know how much it irks me to see her go through what she goes through for maybe a dollar or two above minimum wage? To still live paycheck to paycheck after all the blood, sweat and tears? To have crappy benefits and to not even be able to retire until she’s in her 70’s?
She’s a first hand example of what could happen out there. I want to go a step further. I want to make her proud. The sooner she has to stop breaking her back the better, right? But how do I help when I can barely help myself?
You have to bite a bullet. Maybe a couple. But you’ve got to choose. Debt or passion? Family or work?
This economy and this education system aren’t easy for us to navigate. They are about as unharmonious as they can be. That’s okay to say. It’s true.
This isn’t a blog where I’ll pull the magic solution out of a hat, I haven’t got one. In fact, I can’t even tell you what I’ll do because I don’t even know what I’ll do exactly.
This is a more so- it’s okay to be where you’re at. It’s understandable. Gravity will pull you along where you should be soon enough. Until then, do your best. Learn, learn, learn as much as you can. Develop yourself with whatever you can get your hands on. Make choices for yourself- and be brave. Be a good friend. Ask and tell. Network. We all know something the next person doesn’t. We all know we could use a little help.
Now I just need to take my own advice.
Let me remind you on the side, for us humanitarians-For all of us in fact; we are tomorrow. I’m hoping even if I personally can’t be, that some leaders come out of us that can level the playing field and capitalize our sense of togetherness and community. We are good at talking about things, we should be good about doing things, too! We ought to reach towards these responsibilities we are passionate about. That’s always something to consider when you start to wonder where you can make a difference.
Sending my love and good vibes for everyone’s 2017!!
Quoting an excerpt from a classic movie, White Chicks-
“Time to totally kick ass.”