Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Great Expectations

When I was about 10, I had this grand vision of what I would be like at age 16. I imagined that I would have waist-length hair that was gorgeous and shiny and supermodel-esque. I would drive a black Geo Tracker — chosen because when my dad was buying a new car in 1997, I got to sit in the driver's seat of one and thought I looked like Hot Stuff. Clearly, that allllll happened. Geo was totally still in business when I turned 16, and I'm a hair model right now, dontcha know? ;)


I've been thinking a lot this year about life expectations. I always expected that I would graduate college, find a job I loved right out of school, be ridiculously successful and fabulous at it and make a good living supporting my now-husband as he finished his million years of schooling. And now that we're here, I've been trying not to set expectations for any future phase of our lives, because a) for the first time ever, I'm not sure what my expectations for my 20s are supposed to be, and b) I keep being disappointed when reality doesn't live up to my perfect picture of How Things Should Be. A few weeks ago, Matt commented, "I expected that by age 25, with two bachelor's degrees and a master's between us, we would be bringing in like, (salary) a year." Which we are nowhere close to, thanks and gig 'em.*

For a hot minute, I felt really depressed, like it was my fault for trying something new and not being an overnight success; that our inability to "live the American dream" right this second was somehow my burden to bear. Until I realized that almost everyone I know in our demographic is struggling with the same issues: crippling student loans, credit card debt, childcare expenses, unemployment, the never-ending costs of home-ownership; deferring dreams in exchange for monetary stability.

I keep coming back to the same question: How can we be as successful as our parents' and grandparents' generations were, when all the rules of the game have changed?

Or maybe they haven't changed, and I just don't understand how to win the game yet, if it's possible at all.

How do you define success? What did you think life would be like at 16? 22? 30?

*I declare that I can say "gig 'em" this week because I was mistaken for an Aggie at a wedding we went to last weekend. That means I've lived here too long.


  1. Oh boy do I feel you sister! Despite a degree and a well paying job, thanks to health issues I can't be at the well paying job often enough to actually be PAID I'm living at home. With my parents. And my fiance. In a bedroom. At 26. *sigh*. *it will be worth it, it will be worth it*...

    I have to keep telling myself that...

    1. It will be okay, and when you can have a place of your own, it will have been worth it!

  2. I think defining success is a bit harder in the current economy. In some aspects, I'm right where I thought I would be when I was younger. But there are still things that I thought I would have/see/do by this point that I haven't. It might take a bit longer, but it'll come in time.

  3. I think part of it is that we, as 20somethings, think that we should have what our parents have as 50somethings. We shouldn't define our success against what our parent's have now, but more of what they had 30 years ago. We need to be patient (its so hard!) and continue to work hard, and good things will come!

    1. That makes so much sense. I never thought about that before! It is so hard to be patient!