When I was young, it was easy to think what your life would be like after college.
It seems that life was a successive series of goals. When I was in grade school the goal was to study hard so that I could go to a good high school. I accomplished this by applying myself and earning my acceptance into LaSalle College High School. After LaSalle, my "reach" school was Villanova University. I accomplished that goal, and was estatic to go to Villanova. The next goal was to get a great job, one that challenged me and, of course, paid well. I worked the streets of New York, and landed a wonderful position at a great company.
Then, something happened.
I'm not sure what. I don't know how to describe it. I was doing what everyone else was doing, the series of goals in life. The next series were things like: "Wife", "Home", "Kids". These aren't things that i'm writing about in my "Dear Diary" at 13. In the back of my mind I was always thinking that i'd meet someone, get a home in the suburbs and have children. This is what we do, right? These are the goals that most of us have which have been established from generation to generation.
I think we will agree that many in our generation, "Generation X", have pushed their marriage goals out. The number one reason is that we, as a generation, are much more educated, wealthy, empowered more than ever before. We have more choices, more opportunity, more freedom.
That means that we can work, date, pick and choose what we want to do with our lives. We don't have to get married at a young age. We don't have to settle for a partner - we can be selective, time is on our side.
Our generation doesn't need to get married right away. We get our own job, dating who we want, we can be methodical to finding what is right for our us. Unmarried at thirty doesn't have the same implications like it once did.
This is uncharted territory. We are all living longer. People who are thirty today, aren't like the thirty year olds of 1975.
Think about it. The people who were thirty in 1975, many were married - heck my parents were 33 - the same as that I am now. They had 4 children. I was 3. My brother was 6. My twin sisters were 9! I'm 33, I can barely clean my own room - let alone have 4 kids, a mortgage and a wife!
There weren't many bachelors then, living with roommates, unless they were living in Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco trying to hold on to a 6 year old dream.
Today there are more single young adults than ever before. Some fall into different categories. This is the way I see it:
1) The person who is the "Destructive Thirty" (DT's). They drink, smoke, snort and party like they did when they started their first job. Marriage is the last thought from their mind - they are the serial dater, never staying long term in his relationships. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
2) The person who is the "Constructive Thirty" (CT's). They are living good, working out, trying new things and get better with age. They are still active, doing things like: snowboarding, golfing, going mountain biking, rock climbing, learning to cook or studying a new foreign language. This group of people just haven't found the right one, but are dating or are in a monogamous unmarried relationship.
3) The person who is the "Unproductive Thirty" (UT's). They are in a rut. Does the 9 to 5 each day, not having much fun in life, walking the muddy, crowded road more travelled. They may be in a unsatisfying relationship - one that doesn't inspire them, maybe its just convienent and they doesn't want to rock the boat by breaking up. Or they aren't in a relationship, unable or unwilling to get into the dating scene.
4) The person who is the "Productive Thirty" (PT's). They are a workaholic. They work a ridiculous amount of hours, and has little time for their social life. Their goals are to climb the corporate ladder first and dwell on their social life second. They may date, but either have a VERY understanding partner, or just can't find someone who understands the importance they put on their career goals. They are well aware of the sacrifices they are making now, and some are bothered by it. Some aren't.
I was very much like the first example about 2 years ago. The extent of my destruction was limited to booze and cigarettes, with some "smoking the tweed" mixed in.
Today i'm much more like the second example. It all began when I met a girl two years ago, who was my catalyst of change. She made me want to be a better person. It involves Vegas, drama and the loss of a friendship. That is another story for another day.
I tell people the same thing all the time: Someone else won't make you happy, you have got to make yourself happy first.
I don't need someone to make me happy, just like I know there are many of you out there that feel the same way. But I certainly know that there are things in this life that i'd like to share with someone special. My passion for wine and port. My love of travelling. My appreciation of cooking. My computer games. The Philadelphia Eagles! My imagination. My hopes and my dreams.
My goals haven't changed. But i'm out there, dating, meeting people, growing and changing. Part of me is afraid. Afraid that I may be waiting too long. Afraid that even if I got married tomorrow and had a kid a year from now, i'd be 52 when that first born turned 18. I'm not getting married tomorrow. Am I waiting too long? Would I have regrets when I was 60?
I don't know. Maybe 60 will be the new 50, like 40 is the new 30?
Are you with me?
Its a new world, a new generation, with new rules and new goals. Its certainly frightening to explore this wild new land. Also exciting at the same time. I see some of my friends, who are in their safe relationships, back in the civilized world, and part of me feels happy for them. I also feel envy of what they have. They completed their goals, i'm still completing other goals in my life.
Part of me just shrugs and thinks, "Que Sera Sera".