The Cost of Living

I see a lot of poor people like myself really upset about their student loans. And sometimes I think to myself that I live in a shitty apartment, we can’t afford to take vacations or buy all the nice things we’d like because the money that would pay for those nice things is going to student loans. But I have a very strong suspicion if Ben and I hadn’t gone to college, all that income we’re currently paying back in student loans would probably not be coming in in the first place. We both work jobs that, for whatever stupid reason, require a degree to even interview for.

I’m not saying you need a degree to be comfortable in life, but if you have determined that you want to do the kind of work that, just or unjust, requires a degree to do it, you have to weigh the cost of that degree against your desire to work in your chosen field. Maybe it’s unfair that this cost is higher to the poor, but what in life is fair? So much time is wasted in sitting around looking at other people’s outsides and wondering why it’s so easy for them, or how they have it so good. The answer to that question is always that they don’t. When we judge other people based on random impressions, we’re looking through a keyhole at a twenty story building. It’s going to provide some clues as to what’s inside, but it’s nowhere near enough information for a real judgement.

In this life you will take damage. You’re going to graduate with more in debt than you’ll make the first two or five, or fifteen years after graduation, you’re going to love people who can’t or won’t love you back, and at several points along the way you will load all your hopes and dreams onto a vehicle only to watch it crash and burn in increasingly more complex and impressive ways. But this is better than the alternative.

If you don’t want college debt, make other choices. You don’t have to do something just because everybody else did. Weigh your options, make your decision, take your knocks. You’ll find we’re all just working to gather what resources we have available and figure out what we’re building with them. It’s a construction project that none of us will ever finish. It was left to us, and we will leave it to others. It has a lot of problems, but it’s also pretty impressive.

As usual, there’s a lot of stuff going on and I’m extremely worried about my job situation. But it’s really only the most obvious feature of a problem I’ve been working on for awhile now. I keep taking apart all the pieces of my life and laying them out like they’ll tell me something. As if somewhere there’s a recipe that calls for one English degree, 6 years of marketing experience, fifteen years of 12 steps, significant childhood trauma and a really strong conviction to be more than the sum of one’s parts. Overachieving gutterpunk cake with dick cheese frosting. But for all the times I pour my guts out and put them back in, I’m still the same weird fat bastard I’ve always been.

I know what I have, I know what I want, and I know who I am, and yet I’m no closer to knowing what to do than I’ve ever been. But I guess that’s kind of my style. I tend to careen through everything by the seat of my pants, telling everyone who will listen that I know exactly what I’m doing when I really only have the vaguest outline of a clue. I mean, that makes me sound reckless. But it usually turns out OK. In some ways, not having a plan is superior in that it makes you flexible to new opportunities.

So I don’t have an exact plan. When was that ever a requirement for fun or success?