College Graduate — October Memoir Challenge
This is my twenty-first post, for age 21, of the October Memoir and Backstory Challenge hosted by Jane Anne McLachlan. My previous posts: Baby Speed Eater, Two Tales, Curls, Most Magical Christmas, Kindergarten, Places, Mental Health in 1969, The Boxcar Children, The Little House Books, Too Thin, Four Square, Curls: Take Two, Scouting, Schools, Sophomore Year, 1979 Book Review, Library Assistant, College Food, Dear Santa, and The Muny.
During my last semester of undergraduate work in college, I took a class called Literature and Values. We were required to write a journal that the professor reviewed periodically. Here’s the last paragraph of my journal:
This has been the most successful journal I’ve ever written. I don’t think it’s because I was required to write it either. I’ve tried to write journals before, and I’ve always had troubles because there was no one to write for. It’s therapeutic, but I feel the need for an audience. That must be why I’m more inclined to write long letters than to make entries in a locked diary. If I go to all the trouble of thinking about something, I want to share it with someone else.
Too bad it took so long for blogs to be invented.
Most of the pages in the journal were devoted to trying to work out my thoughts on marriage and career.
If I could give my 21 year old self some advice, I would tell her not to marry T. In the journal, I reflected about an argument in our class that society should make getting married more difficult in order to reduce the divorce rate. Getting married didn’t look that easy to me.
Marriage isn’t all that easy. Well, maybe it is for lots of people, if T and I ever get married, it won’t be easy at all. We were talking about it the other day. T thinks the marriage license is stupid, that the state shouldn’t license personal relationships. So we’re off to a wonderful start. Then there’s my wish to marry in my hometown church and to go through pre-marriage counseling with the pastor. T doesn’t like the pastor or the church, or any pastor or church, for that matter. All in all, there could be better ways to start our marriage then to have to go through the hassles of getting married.
Sigh. Dear young Joy, it’s so obvious — don’t marry the guy who doesn’t want to get married. Either dump your conventionality or dump the guy. Given what I know now, I say dump the guy and wait a few years to decide whether or not marriage is for you.
On the career front, I was trying to balance my idealist values with the practical needs for a job. I wanted someone to pay me to work on computers for world peace but wasn’t able to find an organization with the money to do so (it struck me reading my journal how much easier that problem would be to tackle today using the web). Any other job felt like selling out. The best solution I could come up with was to take a job, work for a couple of years, and then travel the world with T.
Knowing what’s going to happen in a year or so to my young self, I have really good advice — don’t fret so much over taking the job with the good health insurance. You’re going to need it.
What would you tell yourself from the time you were graduating from college if you could?
Thanks for writing such a touching blog. It reminds me of my Russian immigrant grandmother shaking her head as she said, “You can’t put an old head on young shoulder.” The back story on that comment is that in 1915, when she was 15 years old, she ran away and joined a burlesque show. She was the oldest girl in a somewhat religious family, and THIS WAS NOT DONE. Within a day or two my great grandfather found her, though, as she was dancing the “hootchie kootchie”–and unceremoniously pulled her offstage. She got married three years later, and since she married and divorced my grandfather three times, my bet is that she needed to follow your sage advice.
What a great story about your grandmother. I love the saying.
Joy, while you’re visiting 1983 and telling your 21 year old self not to marry that person, can you drop in on your 20 year old brother and tell him the same thing? Thanks. Oh wait, never mind, he won’t listen of course. Thanks anyway.
Yeah. That’s kind of the problem with advising our younger selves, isn’t it? We never listen!
About the marriage thing, I do think that 20-somethings in America still feel some kind of peer pressure to get married. I wasn’t married until I was 28, but by then I had been best man for four of my friends! It just started to seem like not my biological clock, but my societal-expectations clock was ticking, haha. You know, gotta get married so you can have the kids and get on with the other things that have to be done in life in an orderly fashion. So, I guess I would advise a 21-year old not to be concerned with order, sometimes disorder ends up working better! Now, I am glad I was single until I was 28.
Nice! My wife and I had some troubles in our marriage too. After a ten month separation, we were able to pull it back together and work on the real issues. So I guess I would tell myself some of the same advice you gave yourself: If she doesn’t treat you right, she isn’t the one for you.
Once my wife realized I wasn’t going to take any more… stress… things mellowed considerably.
Thanks for sharing such a tender subject.
Finally I’m caught up! I have enjoyed reading these posts I missed while I was at the FWA conference. But so many seem to be about regrets or things we wish we could tell our younger selves. I wonder why the things we’d tell ourselves not to do stand out so much more than the things we’d tell our younger selves, “Good move! So glad you did that!” Even as I wonder, I can think of the mistakes, but the good moves don’t come easily to my mind.
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My biggest mistakes in my adult life involved leaving Hawaii at various times because “that was the practical thing to do at the time.” NOT! And the funny thing is, I never plan on moving back to Hawaii. The opportunities land in my lap as if Pele, the malahini goddess, is calling me home. Like you, Joy, I would mess up by being too idealistic. Needed to loosen up some there.
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