If you're 30 something (like me) you're not quite Generation X and you're definitely not a millennial or a boomer....so what are you? Who knows? And that's just about how it feels at 30 something sometimes. Who are we and what the heck are we doing?
Nobody says or tells you to live at home if you can during college so you can save money and pay for school. I went to LSU. It was the only school I even considered going to...I didn't even apply anywhere else. I wanted to be there and do everything I possibly could. So I did. Coming out of college I had $60,000 in student loan debt. Yup....I said SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS (and that's with me working part time jobs throughout all 7 years). I've been paying on it for about 10 years....and hadn't made a dent on it until I moved in with my mom (yes, at 30something, I'm living with my mom). Regarding student loans, nobody says take out as little as possible so you're not strapped with huge amounts of debt when you get out. They just don't say it....or maybe they did and we didn't listen or maybe they didn't then but they are now. Who knows....just listen when you can.
When we're in school nobody says, you really should prepare for your future (and I am talking LONG term here), but looking back, I'm thinking they should have told us about that. Think about how that student loan debt is going to affect you once you get out (it's basically a mortgage payment for YEARS)....think about what kind of jobs you can get with that Master of Liberal Arts degree.... or General Studies bachelors. No, I'm pretty sure they didn't say those things when I was in school....they said enjoy it! Go out! Have fun! Take advantage of everything they have to offer! College only happens once (but they didn't tell you that you'd be paying for it for a long time to come and your choices then can very much affect you throughout the rest of your life). Nobody says those things...or maybe they did...and we didn't listen. It's been so long I honestly don't remember.
Nobody really says "it's okay to NOT know what you are going to do with the rest of your life." They don't really say take it slow and get some experience in different areas so you have an idea of what you actually could see yourself doing for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Nobody tells you (or maybe they did and we didn't listen), it might be better to start at a Community College instead of the four year college costing you tons of money and time only to not have any idea of what you're going to major in (because who really knows what they want to do FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE at the age of 18 or 23?). We may think we know, but we don't. It's taken me years to even come close to figuring out the jobs I can tolerate and those I can't and those I love. Nobody really tells you those things....or maybe they did and we didn't listen.
Then we get out of school and we think we'll get our dream job because we were raised to think "having a degree means I can get a good job." But that's not exactly how it works. Nobody really prepares you for how HARD it will be to get a job and in the field you want. Instead most of the time, there is this HUGE stop sign with the question: DO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE? And on top of experience, employers want specific skills and knowledge that aren't necessarily taught in college (yes, they are paying attention to your personality and Googling you). Where do we learn how to have customer service or be organized in an office setting? Maybe LSU offered "Office Etiquette 101", but I'm thinking it wasn't a priority because nobody said THIS IS IMPORTANT). They don't teach those things in school....that kind of knowledge comes through experience and jobs. Nobody says while you're actually in school you should be doing this or that so you can at least try to learn those desired skills, or maybe they did and we didn't listen. I came out of grad school making $1,000 a month...you think that's going to pay off a $60,000 student loan debt?
Now you have a job and you're buying a home and getting married. Married? Really? That is definitely one subject they don't give you the details on....it's HARD. You love this person and yet at times you may actually want to punch the living crap out of them. What happens to them, happens to you....is that fair? Not sure, but it happens. You feel their pain and vice verse. Sometimes it just plain stinks. You're buying a house and cars and setting up family and building more debt (you know, on top of your student loans because those aren't paid off yet). Student loans, house mortgages, car loans, business loans, they all add up. We weren't even married 2 years and we were in debt up to our eyeballs. But it's marriage and you have your best friend and you're going through it together. Nobody tells you the other side of their marriage...and there is another side to it :) It's just not something everyone talks about....
It's amazing how fast that time goes by....and how much we change and learn and grow throughout all of it. Growing up is hard and if we're not careful we can make it harder than it has to be.We did....and now we're working our way to a better day.
Lessons I learned along the way that I will definitely share with my hypothetical children and PRAY they will listen better than I did:
- Listen. Don't listen to respond but really listen...and if after hearing what the other person has to say you still feel the same way, by all means proceed with your plans :)
- You know those pesky things your parents used to bug you about (responsibility, jobs, saving, etc.)? Yeah, they may actually know something so take the time to listen occasionally.
- Slow down. You will never have another moment like the one you are living at this very moment.
- Get a job even if it's part time. It teaches time management and so many other non-teachable skills that are necessary in the business world today (like customer service and a work ethic).
- Pay for as much of college as you can and take out as little as you can. It's okay if you don't go to that private school your parents went to. It's okay to start at a CC and see what subjects you actually like before spending the big money on a four year degree you hate.
- SAVE! Always think about your future. Even if it's $50 a month until you can afford more, SAVE!! Paying with cash is so much better than living in debt all the time.
- (AGAIN) SLOW DOWN. You do not have to get married, buy a house, buy cars, and have kids all at the same time. Plan a little bit....it helps significantly!
- Marry your best friend. Yes, the college quarterback or cheerleader is hot and fun and stuff, but is he/she your best friend? Can you tell him/her anything? Are they going to be there for you no matter what....are they going to see past your defects and love you anyway? If you have any doubt to any of these questions....SLOW DOWN and figure it out.
- Don't be afraid to take chances. Life is short and if you don't like something, you should definitely do something about it.
What are some life lessons you would tell your younger self?