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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Orthodox Heresy: Whither the "Twixters?"

Reid has a very good post today about what I call the transition to adulthood. I have been thinking about this a bit lately because of a related article in WSJ and a statistic I heard that many 20-somethings think that adulthood starts around 26. 26??? Egads!

I can relate a bit to Reid and this zeitgeist, though my experience was compressed into a few short years.

A little background

When I started college, I was sure that I was going to major in political science, go to law school, become an attorney, and then run for Congress. For various and sundry reasons that I will get into in another post, I discarded this idea my sophomore year and changed my major to geography. Needless to say, my parents were less than pleased with this turn of events, especially when I told them I had no idea what I could do with a degree in geography.

Part of this had to do with my views on higher education. I was always more interested in the idea of college being my way to become an educated man, as opposed to job training as it is generally viewed these days. As a result, I was very drawn to the idea of a liberal arts education. A liberal arts education more often than not ensures two things: 1) the ability to communicate and 2) the ability to think critically.

When it came time to graduate from college (in 3 years no less), I really hadn't thought much about jobs. I had sort of assumed that I would go on staff with a campus ministry or go to grad school but when the time came, I just wasn't interested in either.

Back with the 'rents

So suddenly I found myself back home with the 'rents. Not good. After about 3 months of "how late were you out last night?", I decided this couldn't last. I was so desperate to escape, I accepted an acquaintance's offer to sleep on an air mattress in his one-bedroom apartment. I then took a job as a phone-monkey at a telemarketing company (I was a little too green to figure out what the job really entailed until it was too late). After about two weeks, I had enough and decided to quit. (Un)fortunately, I was offered a position to manage a group of 20 at this company before I had a chance to quit. What a motley crew that was. I even made the mistake of hiring friends (amazingly with no major repercussions). After about one year, I left. I'm not sure if I even gave notice. I didn't have another job and wasn't sure what the heck I wanted to do. But I was very sure that I was no longer going to be a phone-monkey.


Even on my meager phone-monkey salary, I had saved enough to not work for about six months. I spent those six months mountainbiking, seeing bands at clubs almost every night, and sleeping until noon every day. I wasn't living at home but was living in my grandparent's old house which was a tad more respectable. I still had no idea what I wanted to do. When the money ran out, I got three part-time jobs. In the mornings I worked as a PE teacher at the school that my church runs. In the afternoons, I did admin work for a local missions organization. But the evenings were the worst; I couldn't escape my monkey past. I worked for a collections company, calling people to "pay up". There are fewer jobs more degrading or more despised than collections. To top things off, my car engine burned up around this time. I was very close to having to call it quits and move back in with the 'rents with my tail tucked under me.

A new day

I finally got a real job doing what I had studied in school after about three years of wandering. Granted, that first job didn't pay much but it was a real job that got me started on an actual career. Not coincidentally, about this time is when I got married. While I can sympathize with many of my peers who have spent much time after college in various Mc-jobs and living with the 'rents, things change when you get married. There is a higher responsibility, particularly for a man, to not be a bum.

I guess where I differ from many of my peers is that I never lost that sense of shame of having to live off the 'rents. And I gather that Reid is right there with me. But I keep meeting others younger than me who don't seem to care or see any big deal about.

That's all for now. Enough baring of my soul. :)

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