So, I found out why my daughter's been reluctant to throw herself into this whole college thing.
She's a very bright high school senior with great grades, a long list of extracurricular activities and solid SAT scores. She's gotten plenty of inquiries from universities around the country but has barely raised an eyebrow of interest to help me find a suitable institution for our dollars, I mean, her future.
During one of our evening back-scratch confessionals, she finally admitted that it's not college she's trying to avoid, it's what happens after college that's got her in a funk. Meaning work. She figures the closer she gets to finishing her four years of college, the closer she gets to the world of punch clocks, pantyhose and withholding taxes.
"My life will be over," she moaned in that overly dramatic tone teens employ for everything from a pimple to rear-ending someone in your parents' car on the way to the prom (true story).
We gotta stop griping about our jobs in front of the kids.
It wouldn't matter if I was an R&B backup singer, head taster for Hershey's or held some other dream job — after 30 years in the full-time work force I'm tired. And I get depressed knowing that I'll have to work at least 20 more years because the retirement age will be 70 by the time I get there, and then I'll have to get a part-time job as a Wal-Mart greeter to make ends meet.
Ugh. There I go again.
I told the girl that college is when you find out what you like to do, and then you try to find a job that will let you do it. You're allowed a few years to get it together.
"Join the Peace Corps! Teach English in Japan! Work on a cruise ship!" I urged.
The years immediately following college can be some of the best of your life. If you've been careful, you're free of personal and financial commitments, living a life of relative poverty that can be liberating. You don't have to worry about making your fortune yet, because you don't have a family and mortgage to support.
You can experiment with low-paying jobs that sound cool because you have nothing to lose. When you're older with a family and a good-paying job, there are fewer options because you've got your bills, pension and vacation seniority to think about.
Maybe I'm romanticizing this post-college poverty bit, but I remember with fondness all the little dumps I lived in and the island cruisers I drove while hauling in $180 a week. The lean times teach you to cope with adversity and how to make do with less.
It also moves you toward real adulthood, because you realize you don't want to live like that the rest of your life.
Reach Christie Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.