(DC) The Four Year Plan
For the record, I spent far longer in college than just four years. Part of this was my fault, as I had failed a number of math and science classes and just generally dicked around, drinking in the college life one fifth at a time. The other half my long stay was how much I was misled about what classes I should take by supposed academic advisors. In the end, I cast no blame.
I had a blast at college but after graduating not too long ago, I’m left with a mountain of debt and very little in the ways of job prospects here in Detroit. In fact, I know a lot of other young people who feel the same way; as if we had been sold a bill of goods by older generations. I just turned twenty seven, and when I was a kid, I pictured myself at this age already two years into marriage with a stable job and working on my first kid. As the years ticked by in my mid twenties and the economy went south, I began to realize that this was not going to happen (or at least, anytime soon). The whole concept of marriage seems so far away now, and financially unappealing.
All our lives, we’ve been told to stay out of trouble, go to college, and pursue what our passions are and from all that, we will find success. Was I naive in thinking this? I’ve never been to jail (not even a parking ticket), no kids, finished college, and still can’t find a decent job. I’m not asking for millions and a huge house; just a quiet, small place, some food to eat, and some time to myself to draw. We did what we were told to do and now have little show for it. My initial reaction is to blame our parent’s generation, the Baby Boomers, for ruining the economy and prospects for the future, but I try to squash those feelings because they are unfair.
I take comfort in the fact that there is little else to do except curl up and die or keep trying. Having only two options gives one a sense of clarity, and you best believe that I am in the latter camp. I’ve had several awful, humiliating, and sometimes dangerous jobs this past Summer and I foresee that there are more to come, but I will keep trying. In a way, I appreciate the struggle because I appreciate shit a lot more, and I realize all the material things we design to surround ourselves with are unecessary and cumbersome (George Carlin had a great bit about “stuff”which I was introduced to while carpooling to one of my shitty jobs).
Will things get better? No one knows for sure. My advice is to not find comfort in thinking that it will, but instead consider that it will never get better. Part of that Chinese curse has come true for all of us in that we now “live in interesting times”, and as the global wealth that had once been held by America now spreads across the world into India and China and the population of the Earth strains at seven billion, now is the time to focus, hone your craft, and truly deliver something amazing to stand a part from the crowd.