Dear 21 year old me,
How are things? Fine? How’s that education degree coming? You still have a 4.0? That’s awesome. Enjoy it. Seriously. It won’t last.
I want to talk to you about the future. Your/my future.
When it comes time to do the student teaching portion of your special ed degree, you will be so depressed and dejected by what you see, particularly when you compare it to the schools you worked in back in PA, that you will begin to seriously question the wisdom of your choice. You’re about to take that geology class for your science requirement since you know damn well your chances of doing well at that are far greater than physics or chemistry. You will love that class. It will be taught by an awesome professor, who will one day become a mentor and great friend. You will become so enamored with the subject that you will quite deliberately change majors despite the fact that you are within about a semester or two of graduating. It won’t matter. Dad will even be happy about it, as “teachers don’t make any kind of money.” You’ll scoff at that, as what is money compared to professional and intellectual fulfillment, right?
Dad was kind of spot on about this one. More on that later.
You’ll work through this degree and enjoy it. You’ll do well in your geology courses and most others. Except calculus, physics, and chemistry. Those courses will eat you for breakfast. You’ll fail one, get Ds in others, and even withdraw from one or two. Thank goodness for all those “puff” courses back from your ed degree, eh? Balance out that old GPA.
Grad school won’t go well. You’ll hate the first 2 thesis topics you’re offered. You won’t be able to work on the group of microfossils you’re in love with, as that prof is going on sabbatical and isn’t taking on new students for a while. That bastard. You’ll complete your course work and then some. You’ll stall on your thesis. Forever. You just don’t like your topic. How can you eat, breathe, and sleep a topic you don’t like? If only you had discovered Dr. Liu in time, you would’ve finished. But you didn’t know. And really, you can’t make money in micropaleontology. Oil companies don’t use it as much, and you don’t like the idea of working for such a volatile market-driven industry, anyway. Too much uncertainty.
Ultimately, you won’t finish your master’s degree. You walk away, beginning about 4-5 years of random professional wandering. You will ultimately end up in a “geologist” position, but it doesn’t deal much with actual geology. And the money stinks. By the time you realize how badly the money stinks, you’ll have a husband, a mortgage, and most importantly, 2 amazing little kids relying on you and that stinky paycheck, and because of the few perks the job offers – good health benefits during a terrifying time on that front, stable schedule, and telecommuting privileges- you can’t make a move into the more lucrative private sector. You’ll be pudgy and out of shape. You’ll be 40. Your house is a mess, full of clutter and needing improvements you can’t make. You’ll be kind of stuck.
No, money isn’t everything. But I do wish you’d wake up and smell that lovely green ink sooner so that we’d be a bit better off. While your job in and of itself isn’t terrible, within 7 years you’ve hit sort of a ceiling there. Things that would make your life a bit easier – some home improvements, a cleaning lady, gym fees, vacations – are out of reach because of that silly little stuff called money.
Ultimately, here’s what I want you to do:
- Really think about that major. Think hard. If you want to stay in geology, be prepared to get ambitious. Either finish your fucking degree or at least pursue internships in the oil industry more aggressively. If you’re not prepared to do that, then…
- Consider a different line of study. Psychology might work. People love to tell you crazy shit, anyway. You might as well get paid. You’re interested in that realm of science. It would probably be a good fit.
- Enjoy your youth and the ability to eat a whole pizza in a sitting without gaining a pound while you can!! It really doesn’t last. You’ve got legs and a tiny butt. Ditch the long schlumpy skirts and combat boots and get some minis and heels. Show them off!
- And while you’re/I’m at it, pick up some exercise habits now. You liked that Tai chi class you took. Carry on with that. Or maybe take some more ballet classes. Something. Anything. By the time you realize you need to be doing something, you’ll be way out of shape; since you’ve never had to exercise a day in your life the climb will be up a very steep hill.
That’s all. I don’t mean to be a buzzkill but maybe you’ll listen to me/you than the other old out-of-touch folks out there (Dad!) who are always trying to tell you/me what to do.
Oh, and that guy you’re dating now from Biloxi? He is shiftless, aimless, and goalless. Professional surfer/soccer player? Ha!! He can barely tie his damn shoes. Don’t waste any tears when you guys split up shortly. You’ll find him laughable in about a month.