College grad –> adult?

April 30, 2010 § 3 Comments

It’s a funny thing, being 23. Today at lunch my coworkers were describing the “20’s” as the volatile period of your life, and I can’t help but agree. Your twenties are the years during which you are constantly making decisions and shifting your plans as you evaluate and reevaluate the direction of your life. You are finishing college and (hopefully) starting your first “real” job, which requires lower levels of accountability than were needed to write your Senior Thesis, but solicits strong bonds of dependence since it is with this job that you will pay for rent, insurance, a car, cell phone bills, the internet, repairs, and maybe save enough to buy a $3.00 cup of coffee from Starbucks twice a month. At the same time, you have no idea what you’re doing with your life, there’s a 90% chance that what you currently spend your day laboring at has nothing to do with your college major, you are likely still in debt from said (seemingly) impractical college degree, and at best, you’re living just above the poverty line. You are grateful to be able to purchase simple groceries and “two-buck chuck” to wine-and-dine yourself as you manage your small apartment and apply to graduate schools or research your “dream job” on the poor old laptop that lasted your three-hundred trips hauling it to and from the library but is not going to last much longer.

(Here ends a fairly realistic account of the sad state of life the average humanities major encounters post-graduation).

This is not to say that your twenties are without their perks. There is certainly less responsibility as you likely do not have children (or at least do not have teenagers), have less to file for in taxes, do not have mortgage payments, and hopefully have your health. It is fantastic to be able to take advantage of your spare time and energy to be with friends, go exploring, discover new likes and read new books (especially with your college-conditioned reading skills). In fact, having lesser responsibility and fewer years of 9-5 work wearing down on us, we might just see each day and weekend as an opportunity for adventure (again, save the financial constraints).

It isn’t time to settle down yet. I asked Alex the other day how many years from now he would like to have started his career, and he said “six.” That puts him at 29. That gives him (and me), six years to re-evaluate what we want to do with our lives, to research grad schools, apply, get-in, work; to research our dream jobs and apply to the entry level positions of those industries. Six years to learn about taxes and IRA accounts, to learn about politics and the corporate ladder. Also, six more years to live adventurously, to explore local areas with our free(er) weekends, to sleep in on Saturdays, to have our friends over on weeknights just to watch TV shows together, and work 9-5 rather than 9-7 or 9-8. It’s not that we expect or intend to have everything figured out by then, it is just that this feels like the time for a large dose of both learning and adventure.

So here we are. 23. Not yet adults, definitely no longer teenagers. Six more years ’til we are just about 30. Then does real life begin?

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§ 3 Responses to College grad –> adult?

  • Cat Watson says:

    How true about the life of a humanities major post-graduation! Definitely can identify with a lot you wrote about! I can say, though, that having a child has made me feel more “adultish,” or at least I’m just feeling the weight of responsibility that having a kid brings. Essentially, though, I’m in the same boat, trying to figure out where our lives are meant to go, what my passions are…I’ve just got a one year old tugging at me as I do it:)

  • Morielle says:

    I am 23 and have both child and mortgage payments…where did my beautiful childhood go?? and yet, I still don’t feel quite grown up…so really, I have no idea when “real life” begins.

    p.s. I love love love the picture of the growing tree you chose for this post 🙂

  • Ga says:

    When does real life begin? Real life begins when you turn in your thesis on time; when you graduate and find a JOB, at whatever, and when you show up on time and don’t slip away early; when you make your life decision of your mate; and when you learn to live as a twosome instead of a onesome.
    Of course, when you have a child, the whole world changes. But you learn to be a threesome or a foursome or a fivesome.
    Real Life is not in brackets, but all along the way, everyday.
    So, I am knocking on the door labeled 81 and life is very real. A friend dies almost every month; another friend is diagnosed with something that wasn’t even known about when I was 23.
    Of course, Doc was 27 and I was 22 when we married and then entered the Air Force (in CA at Travis Air Force Base). Learning to cook from the Chinese butcher at Fairfield-Susuin, was very real (because I didn’t know as much as you about the kitchen). We did know we were returning to Memphis to start practice, but where would the patients come from and would we find a place to live before the baby arrived?
    Real life is being awake most of the night with a baby that has the colic and having to function the next day at whatever. Real life doesn’t have a free week -end or rather no day off for five years!!!
    And when does one know one has made it with a Real Life Gold Seal?
    Wait for the next installment….I love what you are writing. Keep it up!
    see you in June when REAL LIFE IN MEMPHIS happens.
    Much real love, Ga

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