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?