05 July, 2012

Advice From Seasoned Grownups

Throughout the past year I've spoken with a lot of adults who have tried to give me advice for my life as a post-graduate. Nearly everyone, from my internship coordinator to my professors to the alumni speaker at my commencement ceremony, has advised not to worry so much about getting a job.

"You'll hate your first job," they tell me. "It's not supposed to be a great one. You'll probably switch careers anyway. Besides, you're young and you have your whole life ahead of you to work in an office or settle down in a career and in your life."

Most of these adults have told me to travel, to enjoy my youth and see the world because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity and because once I settle down it will make me more passionate and more certain in my career choices than I am now. I mean, that's not saying much at all, since I'll tell anyone who will stand still long enough that I'm not sure where my life is headed, career-wise, but hey, a little more direction would certainly be nice. And I do love to travel. (Just look back at some of the earlier posts on this blog, they're from my semester abroad in London two years ago.) Sounds great, right?


From the second we graduate college, the vast majority of us who have not been accustomed to holding that silver spoon since birth are forced to think about our finances or, more specifically, the massive pile of debt we've somehow managed to accumulate. For me, completing the exit interviews for my federal loans was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. If I stick to the minimum payments, I'll be paying off these four years at Ithaca College well into my thirties. The personal loan I took out for my final semester at Ithaca has a sky-high interest rate that will probably have accrued several more dollars by the time I finish typing this sentence.

So when veteran grownups tell me to enjoy my youth, or not to worry about money, it always makes me laugh just a little bit. Don't worry about money? If my four years in college have taught me one thing it is that I will be worrying about money for quite awhile yet. I've been put through a system in which I paid massive amounts of monies to my school, in numbers that only increased with every passing year, only to be thrown into a job market that, well, sucks. Because believe it or not, the world apparently just isn't looking for a ton of sassy aspiring novelists at the moment.

What adults mean when they say, "Enjoy your youth," is really, "I never took full advantage of mine."

And the sad truth is that right now I can't really do it either.

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