Exactly one year ago today I started this blog post after reading a hard-hitting New York Times article about the trials and challenges of being young and living in New York City and trying hard to make it. (The only reason I didn't publish was because I didn't save the link to the article and then couldn't find it again.) The point was supposed to be college graduates will do what it takes to live in the city because doing what they're passionate about matters to them, which is not something our parents and grandparents did. I expected to read stories of aspiring actors and artists working multiple serving jobs, taking any role or gig just because it would get their names out there and that's where you start. What I read was entirely different.
The article opened up with an inside look into some kid living in the center of the city, in a tiny apartment, trying to make it, and was quoted talking about sacrifices he makes in order to live where he does (unsafe neighborhood, run down building, no space to turn around). The kicker? His mom pays his rent.
What. The. Fuck. I'm making it on my own as a college graduate in a shitty economy and my mommy isn't paying my rent. I'm working because I have no choice but to live on my own (when I started this post a year ago I had written "I'm working in a crap job because I have no choice"), but I wouldn't want it any other way anyway. My job choice is important to me, like this kid, and I've left jobs before because I was unhappy, but I have yet to let someone pay for my rent or bills because I just didn't like my job or it wasn't what I went to college for. Clearly: I spent over a year of my college educated life driving a broken van part time for just above minimum wage because it was paying the bills at the time. But you know what? My princess cat wouldn't do so well homeless.
The rest of the people they interviewed were at least paying their rents, but 2 of them had professional jobs and just chose to spend their entire paychecks living in a 8X5 room in a posh neighborhood. That's not "oh it's sooo hard to make it in this economy!" That's making a choice and living with the consequences. Hey, I'd have tons of credit card debt too if I ate at restaurants and went to clubs every night, but I don't. I make choices, and I live with the consequences. Not going out means I don't get into debt. Seems worth it to me.
I'm also reminded that the time is just around the corner for those wonderful Christmas letters we get from people we apparently don't speak with anymore because they think we care about the very mundane aspects of their lives. A couple of years ago (or was it last year? I'm getting old...) one relative sent out her family letter and ended it saying how, like everyone, they're getting by and waiting for the economy to turn around, because life got so much harder with the increased taxes on the wealthy and now they have to pick and choose which charities they donate to.