I can across an interesting article that coincides with what I’ve been thinking hard about these past few days. It’s about black people and wealth disparities. You can read it here . As the product of two generations of a middle class family (grandparents and parents), I don’t have anything to show for all their hard work. No property, no trust fund, no assets. Just a crippling amount of student loan debt. And I know that I’m not the only one in this predicament. Growing up, my father worked and my mother stayed home to care for us. She decided that she wanted to raise her children and homeschool us so she did. As a result, we lived in a single income household. A phenomenon that I’m experiencing now with my household of one. There are so many things that I want to do now but I won’t be able to because of my financial obligations. Transitioning to teaching or a post-doctoral position would require a pay cut of about 20k to 40k per year and I can’t afford that. This year one of my goals is to become more financially literate and I’m working on it. However, I wish that I didn’t have to start from the bottom and if I ever make enough money to afford kids I want them to have a different experience. It’s like I’m starting off at a disadvantage and don’t have the opportunity to at least start at baseline. Definitely tough.
I admit that I struggle with the general idea that one has to “qualify” in order to get married. There’s this list of things that single women are given and expected to accomplish before they are ready to get married. We tell our girls that boys will always be there and to get their education first. You’re expected to work on yourself, do fun things, finish school, pay off debt, and get a decent job among other things before you qualify for marriage. Now granted, my story is different in that while I’ve always wanted to get married, I had a feeling that I would be on the road less traveled for a long time. I just didn’t anticipate how long it would be. I was hoping for 25 but now I’m pushing 30 without any actual potential mate on the horizon. I find it frustrating when I’m told that there’s something that I’m doing wrong or just haven’t done yet that makes me unqualified to be married. I see people all day, I’m a good listener, I can hold an emotionally safe place and challenge the perspectives of others in a way that is non-threatening and supportive. I’m the sole provider of my household of one and while I’m not rich, bills do get paid and I travel once in a while. I recently completed the highest educational level one can achieve (PhD) and yet the Universe still apparently sees me as unqualified for a mate. I’m all about doing the work but shit, being alone gets old after a while. I’ve learned how to self soothe and what to do to calm myself down but there are times that I’d sell my soul for a hug and the knowledge that someone has my back. Yes, I’m approached by guys but so far they aren’t ready for anything serious or want me to finance their lives and take care of them. Neither is an option I want to live with. It sounds corny but I want to matter to someone. Really matter. I haven’t found that yet and the older I get the less optimistic I am. It’s just exhausting and tiring doing it alone all the time and while I’ll always do what I have to do, I wish things were different.
One thing about being a therapist is that I get to meet people from different walks of life and backgrounds. While everyone comes to see me for different reasons, sometimes I hear similar sentiments echoed my multiple people. I’ve met with a lot of people who are stressed out because of their adult children who are living in their home. Many times these are devoted parents who have attempted many times to help but they are at their wits end because they truly believe that their adult children in their 20s, 30s and 40s never intend to leave. As expected, there’s often a lot of clashing as the adult kids want to be respected and do what they want to do while the parents feel inconvenienced and many times feel obligated to make some sort of rules or give a move out date. Some of this is truly due to the economy as it can be harder to get a good paying job and the cost of housing continues to rise. Sometimes people have no other choice than to move in with family and save money. But there’s another group that doesn’t see the need to move out because it’s comfortable. In these situations the adult child usually refuses to get a job and the parent feels helpless because they don’t want their child to be homeless. In the cycle of life there’s a time ideally where the parent and the child switch roles as being the caregiver for each other. I’ve met many parents who desperately need help from their children but the switch has never been made and instead they are giving all their resources and money to their children who aren’t appreciative and it’s at the parents’ detriment. However the parents refuse to do anything because it’s their children and they feel obligated to care for their (adult) able-bodied children for as long as they are alive. The endless cycle continues because neither adult child or parent wants to make a different or a difficult decision. It’s definitely a phenomenon that I would love to do more research on at some point.
It’s funny how quickly time can pass when you’re having fun–or even not having fun. Time passes even when it seems to be standing still. In a short period of time I’ll officially be a year older and hopefully a bit wiser. It’s usually around this time every year that I get somewhat nostalgic and ask myself yet again, “what am I doing with my life?” The answer never seems to be what I want. However, this past year was a game changer of sorts. I posted a lot about change and making hard decisions all throughout this year and some hard decisions were definitely made. I traveled a fair amount that included trips to France, Mexico, and Greece. I started a job that I realized wasn’t a great fit. I started working nights and stuck it out for a while. One of the biggest lessons learned this year was the importance of being clear about what I want and going after it. I met some pretty big goals simply because of planning and being willing to step outside the box to make it happen. I had a huge disappointment that made me reconsider the direction of my life–as most disappointments do. Ups and downs are a part of life and this year was no exception. However, I’ve learned a lot and matured as a result of being willing to challenge myself and some beliefs that I previously held. I did a overhaul of my life and relocated across the country just to start from the ground up and begin building again. Definitely not something for the faint of heart but I think it’ll work out
I honestly can’t believe that the year has gone by so fast. It seems like just yesterday it was January and I was writing down some of the things that I wanted to accomplish in the next 12 month period. From that time to now, some things on the list have become more of a priority than others. Around this time last year I got my professional license after completing 3,360 hours of work and meeting a few other requirements. This year has been one of some pretty big changes with quite a few more scheduled to happen. I remember reading something the other day about how a lot of people are terrified of the idea of starting over. They stay in the same job, the same relationship, the same environment because they’re scared and they don’t want the hassle of starting from the ground up. It’s almost like they would rather complain about what’s wrong with their life instead of venturing out of comfort to actually change what is making them upset. While I think that there are some huge benefits of putting down roots and staying in the same place for a long period of time, there’s also value in experiencing something different and “starting over.” One thing I’ve learned this year from some of the successful people and entrepreneurs that I’ve met is that the ability to start over and/or do something different is what separates the dreamers from the doers. There’s still a lot to do before the year is over and a fear of the unknown is something that has to be faced head on. How else will I retire early and live on a beach? 🙂
This may seem like a rant but it’s really not. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about some prominent couples that we know of. These couples aren’t celebrities or anything but they are fairly well known in certain circles. There’s also an abundance of rumors that their marriage is on the rocks and that they are on the verge of divorce or at least separation. This is partially due to the fact that while all individuals are on social media their spouses is never spoken of and there aren’t any pictures of them together within the last few years. I’m not a social media expert by any means but when you only post selfies and pictures of your children without your spouse I wonder what that means. We all know people who tend to go a bit overboard on social media exposing every single detail about their relationship, what they had to eat, their emotions at any given time, and their thoughts on everything. I’ve witnessed how social media can affect your romantic relationships and I’ve seen couples navigate those grey waters in a variety of ways. Some combine their profiles in an attempt to consolidate friends and provide transparency on all ends. Others give their spouse or significant other their password so that they can check their messages and communications with others. The level of investment in social media varies depending on the person and everyone is entitled to their personal life however I often wonder what is behind the decision to never acknowledge on social media that you’re married. I think that if you are married your spouse should at least be acknowledged. I’m not saying that you have to tag them in every status or talk about them all the time, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to post a picture of the two of you once a year or so. After all, that’s supposed to be one of the most important people in your life. The absence of a spouse from social media is definitely more pronounced when one of the partners is in a position of prominence. You are automatically subject to more scrutiny when you’re in the public eye and that scrutiny also extends to your spouse even if they don’t care for the spotlight. Do everyone a favor and at least be willing to acknowledge them on social media. After all, you picked them.
A lot of my posts this year have been about making choices, trying new things and following through. Recently I had the chance to experience the results of a pretty deliberate choice that I made. I had to go against a lot that had been engrained in me since childhood and also through adulthood. Going off the beaten path of what was expected and doing my own thing. I’ve always wondered what life is like for those who adhere to a specific set of values and morals all their life without even considering that other people live by other sets of morals and are completely fine. Some people have a need to learn by experience. They don’t want to take any one else’s opinion because they want to know for themselves. I think I’m one of those people. While I can fully agree with vicariously learning in order to avoid life altering pitfalls, there’s something to be said about having a personal experience. Many times we can be so quick to take someone else’s word for it without being willing to investigate it ourselves. In my opinion, nothing good ever comes from taking someone’s opinion as truth without critically thinking about it for yourself. There’s a quote I read not too long ago that said “Question everything.” In the world we live in, thinking is essential. In addition to that, the ability to see things though a different perspective can serve as a conduit for new experiences and opportunities that others miss.