As a teenager, I remember talking to my friends about an ideal ten-year-plan. If I played my cards right, I could have a house, a family, and a nice job within ten years after graduating. For some reason, when my friends would bring up their dream lives after graduation, I would feel extremely uneasy. I was sure that my "ten year plan" was either going to crumble and disappoint, or be something that I actually had no desire in pursuing.
One time in my senior lifestyles course, we were supposed to make lists. There were seven items, "marriage, career, finances, fame, travel, family, education, and something else." I don't think I'm remembering them all correctly, but this is the gist of the activity: we were supposed to sort them in order of importance for the future. I watched most of my peers share lists that had "marriage" and "family" at the top present their ideal lifestyles to the class. I was slightly embarrassed, because I felt that I had done mine wrong.
Despite talking about my "ten year plan" and going crazy for my wedding board on Pinterest, the number one thing on my list was "travel." I couldn't say what exactly made me put that option first. Upon thinking more about it, I realized that I could never be happy settling down until I had seen what I had wanted to and go where I felt I needed to go.
Now that the economy and the country in general look a lot different from when my parents were my age, I am starting to realize that maybe it's better that I don't try and push my ten year plan into a system that doesn't want me to succeed. I've watched all the things that people are expected to want fall apart. I've watched home ownership become less popular because of the cost. I've seen the effects of mass unemployment and how paying house bills constantly take a toll on bank accounts. I've listened to people who are "settled down" say, "Oh I wish I would have traveled more first."
It doesn't end there. I don't think the current presidency and legislators want this lifestyle to be accessible to someone who isn't obscenely wealthy. The cost of having children will sky rocket if the repeal of the ACA goes through. The price to pay for being an American and living in the United States will outweigh the benefits.
It's not only the current political climate that turns me off to the traditional route of "settling down." It's also the existence of environmental concerns. I won't be able to ethically support the idea of having the four kids I thought I would want one day. Overpopulation is already a huge problem, and do I want to add to that? I'm sure one day I'll want a kid, but it will definitely have to be after the next 4 (God, I hope four years) when hopefully protection for the EPA is reinstated and hopefully we have a type of affordable health care.
Then begins the concern of my career. Graduating from college with ridiculous amounts of student loans and a degree in English and French is not going to get me more than a tiny apartment if I'm lucky, and I'll be honest, that was my choice.
I've accepted up to this point that my life is going to be a fairly uncertain one. I will probably never have a mortgage, because I'll only be able to afford apartments. I'll pour the money I would normally allocate to settling down into travel if I'm lucky. I will have to really figure out what I need to prioritize, and I can't prioritize the same things my parents did, or I'll be doomed to fail in the country where the traditional family model is financially unsustainable.
I can't say for sure what will happen in the future, but I am thankful that I am not too heartbroken that my "ten year plan" won't work out. I'll just have to get used to living with less certainty.