10th Aug2005

Stuck: Taking Stock Of Life

by Will

I’m so lost, and I don’t get to show this side of myself often. Most people think of me as the nice, corny guy, but I’ve got the same worries and fears as everyone else. It’s not all shits and giggles for me, but everyone thinks my toys and comics must make me this happy Willy-Wonka-esque character. In all honesty, I’m probably the most neurotic person you’ll meet.

Lately, I’ve been struck by how thin the line is between “pensive” and “lazy”, at least to the observer. My mind runs a mile a minute, wondering and fearing. “Am I making the right choice here?” or “Where will this action take me?” or the ultimate “What was I put on this Earth to do?” But there are SO MANY options! It’s bewildering.

I’ve often said that I wish we lived in the ’50s. Now, that may be an odd statement coming from a Black man, but the Mythical ’50s were such a simpler time. You didn’t go to school to necessarily major in anything. I mean, you’d get your degree, but then you’d get you cookie cutter job that afforded you the 2.5 kids and the house in the suburbs. Sure, there were scientists and the like, but Average Joe had his nondescript job, that he performed every day for about 35 years.

Now, we’ve got SO many choices. Do we choose a field in our major, or our minor? How will our GPA, from 3 years ago, affect this decision? Do we go for the unpredictable private sector, or go for the security of the Federal government? Do we save for a house or a ring? Do I want to start saving for a retirement I’ll probably never see due to my level of stress and freak-outosity, or do I stop hiding from my Federal student loans and actually start paying them back?

I AM thinking and planning, and just because I haven’t settled on anything doesn’t mean that the journey isn’t ongoing. But so many people want to stop me and ask, “What are you doing? What’s your plan?” I’m sorry, but every man in his own time! It’s like there’s a Universal Schedule, and I didn’t get the memo. Once everyone else gets their stuff figured out, then they start worrying about Will. Will wasn’t worrying you when you were distressed. I’m glad you’re going to law school. I’m glad you’re moving to your dream job halfway across the world. Sadly, the timing is not right for me yet. It’s not out of fear. Nor for lack of trying. I am planning, and I’ll let you know when I get there.

So, I’m sorry if I seem flaky or wishy-washy. I’m 23! The same people who like to say, “You’ve got time” are the same ones who forget and ask, “So, what now?” No, I haven’t made up my mind yet because nothing has struck me. I hate to sound all jaded, “looking for inspiration”, but I’m different. I was never the kid who said, “I wanna be a lawyer when i grow up.” Sure, I said that for about a week, but I knew even then that there were many (some might say TOO MANY) options in life. And I’m trying to find my way.

I could go to grad school right now. But I am not passionate enough about any field to make it a worthwhile investment. To go to school right now would just be me postponing the real world, and I realize this. I MISS school. I do. But I also have about $30,000 in loan debt, and I’m not exactly sitting on the goldmine to pay that back anytime soon. Why, oh why, would I go back to school to add to that, possibly in an industry that doesn’t exactly ensure I will be comfortable enough to pay off said debt. Yes, if someone is passionate about something, then they’ll find a way. I can honestly say that i’m not that passionate about it. I’m sorry if that sounds like a cop-out, but I feel it’s me knowing my limits. Yeah, it sucks that I make money so important to the equation, but it is.

I worry more about money with my “real job” than I did at H&M, and I really don’t make much more. I made great money for retail, but average money for “real world”. I’m not struggling, per se. I pay all my bills. But there’s no cushion. I have no comfort zone for a rainy day. Simply living paycheck to paycheck. Now, I realize that MANY people are in this same boat, and I’m nothing special, but I also like to think that they’re worried, too. Sure, they may have found corners to cut and methods for coping, but they’re not just sitting pretty knowing that they may be a couple of sick days away from homelessness. So, with the whole “paycheck from poordom” coupled with the “don’t feel like I’m living up to my potential”, I’ve got a lot on my mind. As I know many of my cohorts are going through the same.

And I HATE the whole “if money weren’t an option, what would be your dream job?” exercise. I’ve never had a “dream job”. My future plans were more personal. I wanted to be a good father and husband. As dumb as that may sound, that’s what was important to me. I really just wanted my cookie-cutter job that allowed me to have that life. I’m sorry if I don’t sound ambitious, but I was never the person who saw happiness as being dependent on a career. I’d like to have a job that I enjoy. Who wouldn’t? But I guess I never really wanted to have a job that consumed my life. Rather, I wanted a life that consumed my job.

So, the next time you see me goofing off, please allow me my fun and understand that it took a lot for me to get there. And if you see me frowning, just know that I really am a good, ambitious person underneath, just trying to sort some stuff out.