This post was originally on my other blog (Articulate Black Guy). Given Seattle’s amazing entry on Setting the Bar Too Low, I figured I would introduce this entry on expectations that have affected me. If you’ve read it before, send it to somebody else to read. If you haven’t read it, enjoy…I feel ya pain. And no, I’m not living on the streets.
The economy is in a crunch. I’ve been in denial about it until now. I was told by older people that this day would come. As I sit and ponder my financial situation and life in general, I’m wondering what I’ve really accomplished since graduating from college. It’s nice to throw around my university’s name and occasionally get surprised looks, or more commonly jokes from people who struggle to compensate for their inferiority complex. It’s nice for people to stop by my apartment and notice my shiny diploma frame hanging evenly on the wall. As a matter a fact, it’s probably the only thing in my living room that I dust reguarly. But that piece of paper between the glass and the wood…what does it really mean?
Being that I opted not to go to graduate school, where I hear having this piece of paper is helpful in admissions, I’m finding out how little it’s worth when the economy is tough like it is now. A degree from *insert Ivy League school other than Harvard, Yale, or Princeton* does not guarantee that you will have your dream job or be raking in the dough. Some of us have been fortunate enough to beat the odds; but for the rest of us, we toil on in our daily drudgery. A degree from an Ivy in this economy is on the same piece of paper as a degree from Shucka Jive College in Sanbow, NM. Though I am employed full time, my degree doesn’t allow me to magically leap away from my current job and into the new position of my dreams. There’s a lot of competition out there nowadays. Then again, I guess there’s always been a lot of competition. I just never really noticed it until now. A recession (I call this a recession despite what economists say) definitely levels the playing field.
I look at my degree, and where I was supposed to be according to the expectations of myself and everyone else. My major indicates that I should’ve been a lawyer. Oops, gotta go to grad school for that. Or maybe, just maybe I could’ve been an arbitrator or sports agent, or something else cool…oops, gotta go to grad school for that stuff too. Either that or have the ultimate connection to pull me up the ladder. Anyway, maybe I should have went into the financial services field..then again, I wouldn’t want someone to have to clean the bloody mess off my desk after beating my head against it on the day that I finally snapped.
I could’ve went a few other ways as well, but somehow I ended up in sales and then in the field of recruiting (which is somehow related to my major). I feel like I’ve done a lot of stuff right over the years. I’ve put on the sharp suit. I’ve presented myself as articulate, polished, and highly intelligent. I’ve taken many of the steps that were “supposed” to lead me to success beyond graduating from college. Yet, I feel pretty unaccomplished and somewhat unhappy with my current predicament (Blogging is merely an outlet to stop one of my talents from going to waste). Of course things could be worse, but that doesn’t mitigate the significance of my personal circumstances. I see people making less money that are a lot happier. I see people chasing their dreams, whether it be music or running their own popular website. I see people making filthy bucks that appear to be on this earth solely to be miserable. I guess at times, I feel like I fall somewhere in between. People have said “you only live once”, and I have spent money according to that statement since graduation. It may have brought me temporary happiness at the time, but as I continue to dip into my account for expenses I’d rather not deal with, I find myself using the same words that my parents and other older folks use when trying to instill some knowledge…
“Only if I had the chance to go back and do it again.”
Whoever believes that the “live once” logic is a good excuse to blow your cash must have a trust fund or some financial cushion lurking in the shadows. I sure as hell wish I hadn’t taken that approach. Even if tomorrow is not promised, I wanna be able to live stress free when it becomes today. Lord willin’ of course.
And no, I’m not broke. But after having to dip into my savings a few times as of recent, I’ve realized I’m far from where I expected to be. And I’m even further away from where others expected me to be. As much as I’d like to pass the blame elsewhere for my circumstances, the reality is that I can only blame myself. Had I paid attention to what would make me happy from the beginning and been a bit more calculating, I probably wouldn’t be feeling the way I do now. I certainly wouldn’t be wearing a suit everyday. Perhaps I would have rode the initial blogging wave, and I’d be paid to sit in my apartment in my boxers writing about whatever feels good. Maybe I should be more optimistic despite the downward spiral of the economy and it’s effect on my life. Maybe the line between dream and reality isn’t so distinct. A dream is what you strive to achieve. And reality…well, that’s just what you accept. Strangely enough, many people base reality on the perception of others, which adds to the stress people place on themselves. Perhaps that’s why people are so miserable. Then again, misery does love company, and I figured I’d be kind enough to share mine with you. Go figure…
It always takes a tragedy or a series of unpleasant occurrences to give someone a “reality check”. I’m getting one everyday that I drive by the financially back-breaking gas station, and every month when I cut that crippling rent check that has surged an additional 100 bux per month. I sometimes feel like a college student all over again. I do kinda wish I could go back. Where would I go? You already know…right to that point before I got this seemingly worthless degree.