Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
The question “Do you feel stuck?” is a loaded one for me. I never imagined myself with a baby at 27 years old, having still not entirely established myself in the classic sense of a career, marriage, and property ownership.
But I’ve never been the kind of person to do things the typical way, and so I’m happy to report, however cliché it is, that the birth of my son has been the best thing that’s ever happened for me. Prior to him, I was stuck in this way where I felt no urgency to make big decisions about my future and so I simply didn’t. I floated along with decent jobs, but zero motivation to commit to something larger than myself.
Ever since he was born, I have set goals and a reasonably clear plan of attack.
Beyond the obvious fortune of being born into late twentieth-century, upper-middle-class America, I have a well-paying job that utilizes my college degree and a partner with the same.
When I first got my BS in biology, I had a hard time finding a position in biotechnology and became disillusioned with the piece of paper that I’ll be paying for until well into my thirties. “What was the point?” was a question I lost sleep over, “when you can’t get a position if you don’t have experience, and you can’t get experience because you don’t have a position?” This is too common a thread these days.
Throughout college, I practiced carpentry with my dad for extra money. After graduation, with no luck finding a job in my field, I found a carpentry position at a high-end wood working company in Boston. This worked well at the time, as I enjoyed working with my hands and it paid well enough. One day on the job though, with no other way to describe it, an entry-level lab position fell serendipitously into my lap.
Ever since then, I have been on an upward trajectory that has led to my current position working in a great lab at a local medical school. Now, I have plans to go back to school, and am currently taking classes towards that end. My girlfriend works in a lab as well and together we do just fine making ends meet. Our landlord even lowered our rent after we had the baby.
Our son keeps us motivated to pursue our goals because more money would always be nice. I have to say, though, that life would be a lot more difficult without family, and I have to show my gratitude to them for all that they do. My girlfriend’s parents are retired and watch our son so we can work. Allowing him to grow up around family is a godsend, and not having to pay for daycare is huge.
In a lot of ways, it’s unfortunate that we don’t have the opportunities to establish ourselves like my parents did when they purchased a house at my age. They had no student debt and the relative cost of living was lower. But I realize how great I have it considering all the myriad circumstances I could be in. I basically hit the jackpot as far as life goes. My family and I are healthy and able. Plus, I get to live and raise my son in a city saturated in diversity, culture, people, food, and entertainment that you can’t get in the suburbs.
Having my son has changed my life in so many positive ways, and because of him my future feels more tangible. He continually helps me grow as a person. Though I am stuck in certain ways, with the sacrifice of spontaneity I have gained more comfort in life and a peace of mind I never could have imagined without him.
With goals I’m actively working toward, I have a structure to build our lives on. For me this translates into: In the future when I am making more money, I’ll be able to have more of that freedom of spontaneity. I’ve realized that whatever I set as a priority in life will be what gets the most attention. I’m excited about raising an inquisitive, accepting, and interesting, city-dwelling human being, and my future feels bright and open.
So, to give a straight-up answer, no, I don’t feel stuck. If I work hard enough I still feel like I can accomplish anything within reason. Maybe I’m still reeling from being young and naive, but then again I feel like that is what keeps young people going and reaching for things beyond themselves.