Tuesday, May 03, 2011

36 Soon Come: 10-Year Plans

A bit ago, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine that featured 21 high school seniors’ plans for the next 10 years of their lives and many of the answers made me sad. It also made me rush home and ask my 15-year-old what her 10-year plan was, to make sure she has a realistic hold on this world. Hey, she’s my kid so you never know.

When I was 18 all I wanted was to get out of Brooklyn, out from under my mother’s over-protective hold and just away from everyone and everything that was familiar. Oh, and I wanted to be a groupie for Guns N Roses- following them from show to show. That was, of course, in 1993 when the band was still together (shakes angry fists at Axl’s ego). Once I stepped onto Alfred’s campus and began classes, all I wanted to do was drink as much cheap and/or free liquor as I could get my hands on and maybe attend a class here and there. By my sophomore year, after having to convince the school to not kick me out, I was determined to really buckle down on my studies- Environmental Science- so that I could intern at the US Environmental Protection Agency and save the world. No more groupie dreams, just straight-up geology and statistics and socio-political classes. Then I got pregnant.

In my senior year I really, truly could give nan one fuck about the environment, but it was too late to change majors. My new 10-year plan involved living in sin with my child’s father someplace nice and making ends meet as best I could. Sexy, right? Sometime in 1998 I was already back in the NYC area, working a desk job at a SoHo publisher (fancy!), degree-less and severely unhappy with my marriage and life. Five years out of high school and nothing to show for it except some Fiestaware dishes I bought from eBay, a daughter and a fake marriage.

The next five years found me changing jobs at least three more times, having another daughter, adding vintage cameras to the items I was hoarding off of eBay and finally getting my BA in 2003. Ten years out of high school and I hadn’t saved the world, followed Guns N Roses anywhere and was STILL in a bad, fake marriage with a going-nowhere job.

I tell you all this because many of you probably have a similar story to tell- you were hyped up by your parents and teachers and told you could do anything and be anything and have it all…by 30. It’s so unrealistic and unfair to put that on a child. I beg of you not to perpetuate this myth with any of the children in your life.

You can have many things by the age of 30: two degrees; the beginnings of a kick-ass career; maybe a budding family; maybe a starter home or a nice apartment; and if you work really hard, some money stashed away for a rainy day. But you will not have this mysterious “all” by 30. You may not even get it by 40. If you look at most of the people with real financial wealth or successful careers, or any semblance of an “all” they’re old as fuck. Like, knocking on 60s door old. And they’ve put in eons of hard work.

In that New York Times Magazine article, one high school senior said that in 10 years, he’d be a pediatric surgeon with a house and enough bank to get his parents out of debt.

May the Lord be with him and his pipe dreams…

*smooches...teaching my kids better*
I wish someone had been more honest with me back then... it would have saved me so much heartache and bad feelings.