Call back: “What Do You Want To Be?”

When you grow up?

At the not young age of twenty-eight, I finally have the answer: a UI designer and front-end developer. I can’t say I’m surprised.

The problem is technology is very difficult to break into, especially without a degree in computer science. It’s not impossible, but so much harder. Add design on top of it, which is not exactly notorious for being an in-demand skill, and enough said. Coding itself is endless learning, and I can’t see the day I’m ready to make a project, let alone have a job, arriving in the near or far future. Doesn’t mean I won’t try, but like my previous attempts at any job outside of warehouse and customer service so far, it’ll likely prove fruitless. All my plans for the future are made with my current wage because it’s not a good idea to bet on an income you don’t have. And no, saying “I will have X” doesn’t make it happen. I would have an unbroken family, and be an only child, if that were the case.

Coding isn’t necessary to be a UI designer, but it is necessary to be a front-end developer. I have no interest in back-end or being full-stack, so I don’t care about that. Interesting thing about college graphic design programs is most require a portfolio, which is weird to me. If you can make a portfolio, a graphic design program is likely little more than a formality. I’m attending college because I don’t have the skills and am a poor self-learner. Speaking of which, I’m envious of people who can give themselves college-esque structure. Student debt is never a concern for anyone who can learn outside of academics. Yes, I can learn outside of it. School just does it better than I can. In short, I either devote more time or more money, and the latter has a specific number, so I prefer that. Easier to network when you pay for it too. Not a guarantee, but easier.

I don’t even have my certificate from my trade school anymore. I lost it at some point, but considering how the jobs from that turned out, it’s not something I want on my resume anyway. It’s still embarrassing to be ten years out of high school and have nothing to show for it, but it’s not like there’s a reunion, so who needs to know? In truth, I’ll probably be in a warehouse for the rest of my life, but it’s still better than retail, which is a much worse fate. No one is paid enough for that nonsense.

Sometimes, I feel I want degrees and courses only because I don’t know how else to move on. As I said, I am not a good self-teacher, so those are proof I’m capable of something. Granted, bachelor’s degrees are said to be the new high school diploma, and I’m getting an associate’s, so I’m still not on par. But that’s my life in a nutshell from birth, so what else is new?

A Self-Imposed Deadline

I have a new goal: Become debt-free by 40.

Paying off my debts is already a goal, but that’s focused on my credit card debts. I want to have zero debt whatsoever. No, I don’t care about “leveraging”. Owing money in no way makes me feel good. It really serves only to give me anxiety.

Credit cards: $5,210

Community college: $3,629.10

Student loans: $27,800

Private loans: $10,392.40

Total debt: $47,031.50

So, altogether, I am in $47,031.50 worth of debt at this moment. My 28th birthday is in next month, which means I am giving myself twelve years to pay down all of this debt without accruing more.

($47,031.50 / 12 years = $3919.30 per year) / 12 months =$326.61 per month.

I’ll round it up to $330. I must give a minimum of $330 per month to my debts to be debt-free by age forty. In twelve years, that would total $47,520. Not accounting for interest.

Why did I choose age forty? Because I feel like if I don’t have my life together by that age, there is no hope for my life in any capacity. I am embarrassed to not have my life figured out when I’m nearly pushing thirty. It took me too long to figure out what I want to do as a job. It’s not a good look to have the life of a 20-year-old (school, work, living at home) while everyone else your age, older, and younger is getting married, has kids, new houses and cars, travels, and vacations. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. I’m the only one of my friends who will have completed college, and while it is something I want, it really feels like it pales in comparison because they’re in the place someone around my age is expected to be. At thirty, you’re expected to have the career, the marriage, the kid(s), the car, the house, and the trips. Not all of them have all of that, but all of them have at least one. So, what the heck am I doing? Don’t answer that.

I’m not “young and fresh” anymore. I’m not the future. I’m not a 16-year-old who everyone looks at and thinks of having a bright future ahead. I don’t have all the time in the world. On the contrary, I’m running out of it. If I wanted kids, I have no idea where I would fit them in. I couldn’t imagine where I would fit them in if I went on the standard path, so I can’t imagine how I would fit them in on the unusual path I’m on.

That said, I’ve thought about that a lot, so I want to map it out.

Ages 14 to 18 would be high school.

Ages 18 to 22 would be college.

Work right out of college, so career at 22 (I know that doesn’t always happen, but it’s presumed).

I don’t know when marriage would happen, but I wouldn’t want to marry while in college. No idea when I would meet someone, but I met my boyfriend a few months before my 21st birthday. I would want to wait at least four years before marrying (yes, I know the length of time is irrelevant; it’s a comfort thing), so let’s say 25.

Married at 25, and working for three years. I highly doubt three years is enough to consider yourself “established”. At 30, I would have eight years in the field if I didn’t stop working, but it goes without saying having even one child would interrupt that. I also wouldn’t want to have a child right after getting married. Maybe I wouldn’t wait five years, but I must admit I’m unsure how I’d plan that.

Come to think of it, no one ever says what to do after college. Go to college to get a job. After that, what do you do?

But my point stands, so I repeat: if I couldn’t figure out how to fit a child into my life when I’m doing things right, I have no clue how I’d do it when I am doing everything wrong.

Of course, with 40 being 22 years since adulthood, being debt-free and having a college degree is very little to claim for one’s self. My friends with kids will be halfway done with child-rearing by then, and will no doubt have many more accomplishments (and that of their kids) to their names. And I know it sounds weird to talk about all of this since, as I said, I don’t want kids. But I do occasionally wonder if I’m supposed to want them. The feeling didn’t really happen until one of my friends became a parent, and I sincerely like kids, so it’s not a hate thing. Of course, that would mean I want to be a parent to fit in, not because I want to be a parent, which is a terrible reason to take that plunge.

I also grew up in a family that cared excessively about their image to strangers, absolutely chastised me (and that’s putting it mildly) for not caring, simultaneously sheltered and abused me, and I faced bullying throughout my all of my K – 12 school years. So, that’s probably also influencing my thoughts.

Hopefully, this degree will lead to a job where I make enough money to afford therapy.

Things Change, part 3

Three years later. Let’s make this simple and sweet.

  • I’m in college again. For someone who hates debt and school, I can’t seem to stay out of it. Well, 2020 didn’t help, and the jobs I got after leaving trade school sucked anyway. This time, I’m going for an associate’s degree. The transfer credits helped, though. It’ll take only another year to pursue a bachelor’s, if I choose to.
  • I’m on my third car. It’s older than my niece, but that makes me a little less perfectionist about it. No accidents so far.
  • I’ve been with the company I’m at for 2 1/2 years. Too long, but can’t complain about consistency. I wanted a steady job, and I got one. And it pays more!
  • Moving date is set for January 2023. Boyfriend is coming. Oh, and we’ve been together for seven years now. Well, I’m hooked. In more ways than one.
  • Social media bores me now. Seriously. I never thought I’d see the day I’m tired of it, but nothing about it entertains me. I keep it for my friends. That’s it.
  • Started investing, paying down card debt, made a budget, and opened another bank account. In other words, I’ve gotten heavily into personal finance. Let’s see how long this interest lasts. I give it a year.
  • Gym consistently. Only once a week right now, but it was a start. Three times a week off the bat wasn’t happening.
  • Stopped trying to lose weight. I didn’t like my body at 112 lbs at 12 years old, 122 lbs at 14, 130 lbs at 18, 150 lbs at 22, and I don’t like it at 175 lbs at 27. I don’t like the stretch marks, bumps, the look of my toes, my eyes (brown is boring), my height, or my hair either. And a variety of other things. In fact, I want surgery. Do you see where I’m going with this? There has never been a time in my life when I liked my body – even the times I lost weight (hence why I regained it) – and it’s safe to say at this point, there never will be. But the gym is fun, so I do that.

Something I’ve noticed is when I become secure in a certain position, I begin to feel bored and crave something else. Maybe that’s because I’m used to chaos. I won’t ruin the few good things I have. I want things to be secure and consistent. I want to know what will happen, so I can plan for it. And I want my brain to stop fantasizing!

 

Intermittent Goals

I can’t think of a better name for goals you make in the middle of the year.

Recently, the thought occurred to me I likely meet so few of my goals because I overwhelm myself with them or get stupidly excited. Hence why I skated only once since buying skates for myself. That, and skate rinks have really weird hours.

I want to try setting some not-so-pressured goals for myself and see where that goes. Since this blog needs activity anyway, why not here?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Past Is Alive

Lately, I did a lot of thinking about my past. Or rather, my family’s past.

I don’t know the history between my parents and I probably never will. Each tells a different story. What I do know the two sides of my families were never civil until recent years. And “civil” in this context means “don’t associate with the other”.

Some say children are blessings. That doesn’t describe my birth into my family. My at-the-time impending arrival was not met with the impatient excitement I often see on Facebook. My parents were never in a committed a relationship. They dated for a few weeks or months, banged at least, and split. Neither wanted to be a parent, nor was either in a position to be a parent, but three fourths of a year later, I would come out.

Eventually, I learned my family’s actions weren’t my fault, but I still thought of myself as the reason. After all, having a mouth to feed when you can’t feed your own hardly makes life easier. My mom was utterly lost with parenting after I was capable of doing more than crawling around with a bottle. My dad never tried to begin with, and made it known he wasn’t interested. He was involved in my life, but not beyond being the “fun guy”, and even that was only because his parents made him take part after I was proven to be his.

My dad started a relationship with a woman who had a son, and treated that kid worse. Most of the time, my father was nice to me, but to the son of his now late girlfriend of 19 years, he made it blatant he didn’t like him. He abused him. I didn’t grasp the situation until I was an adult and realized my then-stepbrother was mistreated and ignored by everyone: his mom, my dad, and his dad. Yet was still nice to me. He ran away at the age of 13, and I regret I wasn’t a better little sister to him.

And of course, there’s the simple fact my birth brought together two families who utterly despise each other. The dysfunction peaked during my teen years, but they hated each other long before that. Had I not come, my parents would’ve stayed apart, and two families who dislike each other wouldn’t have had to be tolerant (to put it nicely) for two decades. That’s a weight I can’t quite get off my conscience.

My parents are in a relationship now, but only because 1) I am an adult, which frees my father of any and all parental responsibility, and 2) loneliness. Yes, throughout all of those years, even with his girlfriend, he was attracted to and wanted to be with my mom, but I was there and being with her meant being a full-time parent to me. I’m still in the way, as I live with my mom due to finances and her being schizophrenic, and my dad’s view of my sister (not his child) and me is we’re “cock blockers”.

What’s on my mind lately is how much of my family’s dysfunction is the result of me and how much is the result of their own choices.

It goes without saying the responsibility of kids brings on a whole new kind of stress. It’s the one choice that cannot be undone. Breaking up a relationship or moving to a town aren’t easy processes, but they can be done. Once a person is born, there is no going back. Only age or premature death removes the parents’ obligation, and that’s still only the obligation, not the person’s life itself. In other words, birth cannot be reversed.

“Well, duh, Kaye. Everyone knows that!”

Yeah, me too, and yet, many people put more thought into their dinner plans than becoming parents. If statistics are to be believed, roughly half of the time, it amounts to “oops!”. Yes, I know happy accidents exist, but I was not one of them, which is what this post is about.

My mother was against abortion (take note I said was) and didn’t adopt me out. While I recognize those are sometimes hard choices, they are still choices, correct? Or does being against abortion and adopting out render having a child no longer a choice? I consider my mother better than my father for being a parent, but it was clear to me before my age hit double digits she was doing it because she was stuck with me. Granted, there is no manual for parenting, so she didn’t know what to do when the baby grows beyond being an autonomous crying burrito that needs more than milk, a bath, and a clean diaper. Err, what do you do with them?

However, if beliefs about abortion and adopting out your child are choices, that means keeping the child is a choice too, right? Does that mean the true reason for my family’s dysfunction is my parents’ choices? Or am I assigning too much blame, and my being still plays a part? Are my being and their choices equally responsible for my family’s dysfunction? Is it possible my existence truly is the sole reason? It goes without saying life was easier for all involved before I came to be, and in almost three decades, their positions haven’t changed. Yes, both of my parents are in the same places they were in almost thirty years ago.

I don’t doubt my mom loves me now, but while I hold respect for her, she truly was not a good parent. She was better than my father only in the sense she was there, not that she was competent. She tried her best, and I will never say she didn’t, but her best is on par with patting one’s self on the back for not driving drunk. Given the choice, I would venture into the past to erase my birth for the sake of my mother’s life. I have no hesitance about that.

Ultimately, what’s done is done, and since my attempts to take myself out never came to pass, I’m here until something outside of my own hand removes me. Three events so far failed to do so, so it seems that’ll take a while, but I won’t push my luck.

Although, my boyfriend tells me I am a blessing to his life. It’s nice to know my existence benefit at least one person (of course, sooner or later, he would’ve met someone else; I’m one of about 166.7 million women in our country, after all).