I’m not going to turn this into a think-piece about why hating millennials is unfair and the judgment slung at so many of us is unwarranted. All that has been done before, with stats and such up the wazoo to prove that we actually just have a really rough go of things and so many of us are over-educated and under-employed, drowning in college debt.
But I am going to tell you about my own experience, and how unbelievably difficult it is to get out of that debt pit once you fall down it.
I grew up in a conservative family, homeschooled from second grade all the way through high school. (The well runs deep if you wish to read more about this subject…) and then attended a private Christian college for undergrad.
So, it’s not at all surprising that I tell you that a great many/the majority of my friends from that period of my life are married, have a house and 2-4 kids by now.
But I chose to work in theatre, where things tend to work out a little differently.
But still, at age 26, I ended up getting engaged, and married at 28. Surprise of all surprises, it was to the only woman I ever dated. Perhaps it wasn’t the most traditional route, but I had reached some level of “normal settling down” and felt relieved to have hit that milestone in my life. When our friends would complain about online dating or talk about their loneliness, my wife and I would look at each other and sigh, “Whew! At least we don’t have to ever go through that bullshit again.”
We lived in the city of Chicago and neither had particularly good paying jobs, so we rented a technically decent apartment in a neighborhood where kids literally got shot on our block. It wasn’t a house with a white picket fence, and it sure as hell had its issues, but it was ours and we made it up as cute as we could.
Because we were a same-sex couple of limited means, even if we were interested in having kids together, it was financially impossible. But that wasn’t a thing we had in mind for our future together, anyway.
So, we had begun living our own little version of the American Dream together. I had finally arrived at some semblance of the place so many of my friends had reached 5-10 years earlier.
This wasn’t supposed to be my life. It’s like I was playing a game and I was sent back to the start again, left in the dust.
Yeah, I know that life isn’t a game and there are no set rules, but sometimes it’s nice to have some stability and sometimes it’s fine to want the stereotypical house and partner and 2.5 children and half a cat or whatever they say.
But when have I ever been traditional?
After my divorce, I got a new job and moved across the country to a place where I knew absolutely no one. I gave myself the freshest start possible. This next chapter of my life could be whatever I wanted it to be.
But now I had to figure out what exactly it was that I wanted.
I had to figure out who I really was now that I was all grown up and on my own, left to my own devices.
The first bitter pill I had to swallow was realizing that I was either going to have to live with strangers for housemates or live in a shoebox studio apartment. And I did both of those things in rapid succession, ultimately deciding that a 230 square foot apartment with a mini fridge and hot plate for a kitchen was far superior to sharing a house.
But it was a huge blow for me to acknowledge that I no longer had a real home. Most of my stuff is still in storage at my parents’ house, halfway across the country until I land somewhere more permanently, whatever that means. It’s like I’m in college again, like I’ve regressed 10 years. I feel like less of an adult than I did 5 years ago when I was living with my ex, now sleeping on my glorified cot.
As I watch my friends have their second child, sell their starter house and move into their next one, I feel twinges of envy. These things are now further away from my reality than they had ever been.
I decided to give the Netflix original show “Love” a try the other day and, while I’m not entirely sure I’ll keep watching, there was one part at the end of the first episode that was TOO REAL.
One of the lead characters is a woman named Mickey, and she’s probably around my age and had just gone through a breakup. She finds herself at some strange cult meetup and stands up and gives this speech:
“You said earlier that if you ask for love, the world will send you love back. But I’ve been asking and asking, and I haven’t gotten fucking anything. Hoping and waiting and wishing and wanting love. Hoping for love has fucking ruined my life. But I refuse to believe that all those dipshits I went to high school with, who are married now and putting pictures on Facebook every day of their kids in little headbands have it all figured out, right? That’s gotta be bullshit. That can’t be the deal, that can’t be it.”
After my divorce, I’ve marveled at how anyone can get marriage right, let alone the majority of my friends. (This is not me telling my high school friends that they are dipshits, by the way.) I identify so strongly with Mickey’s words, though.
And, after my divorce, I’ve realized that I really do still want some version of the American Dream.
After some deliberation over the past year and a half, I’ve decided I really would like to eventually get married again. With the right partner, I would like to have kids (ideally whole ones, and before my eggs start to desiccate, which is its own fun timeline issue…) I would like to have a healthy work/life balance and a cute home-type apparatus in which to live. With a full sized fridge.
So here I am, at age 31, setting out once again to do the damn thing, if the American Dream happens to smile upon me again.
Next month, it will be one year since my divorce was finalized.
I moved halfway across the country and began a new job one year and three months ago.
I moved into my current, cozy little studio apartment with my dumpstercat Chet one year ago this week.
I began casually dating eight months ago, convinced that I wanted to “play the field” and try out “ethical non-monogamy.”
About five months ago, I began dating this super cool guy, and about three months ago, I realized that I had no interest in non-monogamy or “playing the field” anymore and I was perfectly content to be in a “real” relationship again. No anxiety about what I could be missing, etc. And no weird residual hangups about my divorce. It’s pretty awesome.
I have settled into my new life. My New Normal. Nestled into the cozy reliability of a routine, a steady paycheck, a great health insurance plan (for now…), a place of my own, and reliable snuggles.
I’ve seen dozens of think pieces, of Facebook posts from friends and strangers, telling me how I should feel about myself and my outlook on this year. I should feel lucky, I should take a good hard look at myself and realize that it’s all my damn fault that I’m not happy (forget about the fact that we have no control over some very serious shit that can happen like death and poverty and mental illness and abuse and it’s a very victim-blaming way to think about it to tell us we can just snap out of it.)
Personally, I’ll admit that 2015 was the bigger dumpster fire for me. That was when my depression had gotten its worst ever, and shit hit the fan with my marriage. 2016 has been a year of growth and rebuilding my life.
But for this country, 2016 has thrust me into a huge amount of worry. But that’s out of my control in many ways.
So what are my take-aways for 2016? What have I learned? How have I changed?
DISCLAIMER: This post is about my own experiences researching and getting an IUD. I am definitely not a medical professional and this isn’t medical advice. But hopefully this can help you decide if IUDs are a worthwhile birth control method to speak with your doctor about, and what to expect if you choose to get one.
Due to the outcome of this U.S. presidential election, people with uteruses are asking a lot of unanswerable questions about what may happen to their bodies over the next four years.
Many of my friends have birth control through “Obamacare”/the Affordable Care Act and, the way our President Elect has been talking, he intends to do away with this.
Unfortunately, that leaves countless people with uteruses (I say it this way because some transmen have uteruses as well) wondering if they will still have easy and affordable access to birth control options within the next year.
The IUD or “Intrauterine Device” has been the buzz amongst my friends this past week.
Based upon which type you get, once installed, it is good for 3-10 years! This means that, for many people, they could have worry-free birth control that could last them until this hopefully blows over.
I had an IUD installed this spring, the copper Paragard version, and I have been planning to write about my experience and my choice for a while. But now it is more pertinent than ever. I have been talking with several friends individually about it, so I thought it was now the time for me to write this thing!
Preface: I’m pretty adamant about the fact that I don’t want to have kids, and I will be discussing these thoughts and feelings in this post. It does not mean I think poorly of those who do, who want to, or who wish they could have children. These are only my own personal beliefs and they are not meant to hurt anyone in any way.
When I started college twelve years ago as an 18 year old freshman, I was given an assignment: write a letter to my future self, outlining where I saw myself at graduation and then my 10 year plan.
As a freshman, I planned on focusing on musical theatre performance, perhaps taking some classes in education. I wanted to run a musical theatre company for youth similar to the one I attended as a homeschooler throughout high school.
So that meant I would graduate with my musical theatre focused degree at age 22.
By age 24 or maybe 25 at the latest, I would be married to a wonderful guy.
And a couple years after that at 26 or 27, I would have my first kid. My second would follow a couple years later, so I would have my intended two children by the time I was 30.
I’m now 30, and the only thing that happened in that 10 year plan was “I graduated with some sort of degree at age 22.”