When I graduated from high school, I had two goals:
- Stay single. I’d wasted too much time in high school chasing after guys who weren’t interested in me, and I decided I’d be happiest just being on my own. I would be like my aunt, a divorceé who lived on her own, ran marathons, and took trips whenever and wherever she wanted. I didn’t want to be limited in my career abilities because I was tied down to someone else’s plans.
- Get a degree in photography. I loved photography and had taken a few classes through the park district since my high school didn’t have any classes. People told me that everyone changes their major in college, but I was determined not to. Since I couldn’t do any other kind of art, I picked one of the few colleges that wasn’t going to make me take art classes for two years before starting photo classes. I would be a photo major, damnit!
Within a few months of college, I’d utterly failed at both goals. I’d switched majors to journalism and was dating my future husband. (To be fair, I had told God, in a fit of exasperation, “I am so done with guys! If you want me to get married, you’d better send me the perfect guy and make him come after me!” Apparently He took me up on it.)
A few years later, I found myself looking for jobs–any job–in the Chicago area so we could get married while he was still in grad school. Not exactly the unfettered lifestyle I’d been planning.
Since then, I’ve been a little more cautious about having any hard-and-fast goals for my life.
My husband, on the other hand, has a lot of goals. We’re going to move to Washington State in the next few years. Adopt five kids. Buy 10 acres of land. (No, 15 acres. No, 20!) Build our own house with our own hands!
My husband’s a big-idea man (Myers-Briggs: N). I’m a little more detail-oriented and concerned with things like how and when we’re possibly going to build a house if I’m working and he’s at home with our five kids.
Not to mention how we’re going to afford all of this. Our mantra to friends and family when we got married was “We’re going to both work for a few years to save up money. Then Mike will quit and stay home when we start having kids.” This was based largely on the faulty assumption that Mike would find a full-time job within a year of finishing his master’s degree.
There are a lot of factors in play here: the economy, the fact that Mike hates filling out any kind of form (like job applications) without help, the fact that he changes his mind every few months about what he’d really like to do with his life. But regardless of the reason, the fact remains that he’s been out of school for a year and is nowhere closer to having a full-time job. Possibly farther: He was working part-time as a server through grad school and picked up more hours when he got out, but he just quit that job because he thought he’d apply to more jobs if he wasn’t working all the time.
So here I am at 25. Working, confusingly enough, as a data analyst for a college, supporting my somewhat-voluntarily unemployed husband. I do want to move to Washington, where I was born and where my mom’s family still is, but since my job is unrelated to my major I’m going to need a few more years’ experience under my belt before I can convince anyone to give me a similar job out there.
How much money we’re able to save by then will depend on whether Mike ever gets a job. Otherwise I guess we’ll be waiting that much longer to adopt. And the land? The house? Who knows.
I’m all for “seizing the day” and just going for it, not spending my life sitting around waiting until all my ducks are in a row. The modern fairy tale tells me I should quit my job and just move out there, and everything will fall into place.
Then again, I don’t want to be an idiot. A broke idiot. I do have some standards.
Advice-giving and advice-seeking, full of wisdom and questions, Jessica is a 20-something data analyst, wannabe copyeditor, and general Type A who likes to pretend she’s not. Faith Permeating Life is a window into her attempts to make the most of marriage before kids, figure out how to be liberal and Catholic, and find a little bit of happiness every day. Follower her on Twitter: @keepbabbling
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.