Thursday, August 4, 2011

Staying hopeful

We all know things aren't going great in this country. I don't know anyone who hasn't been effected by the economic downturn, my fiance and myself included. I work in a restaurant, and August is never a good month in the best of times. So I haven't been working as much and I definitely haven't been making as much money as I was in the spring. My fiance started a new job a few months ago and recently got promoted to full time with benefits. But he took a pay cut taking this job, which is worth it because he isn't traveling 5-6 days a week anymore. Between the wedding, our bills, credit card and school loan debt, things are tight. And we are both stressed over money.

Then I see the headlines. More layoffs this week. The debt deal crisis. Mounting unemployment with no signs of a recovery in sight. We tell each other "Hey, at least it isn't just us." And you'd think that would make us feel better. Everyone is in the same boat. At least we have jobs when so many don't. At least we can pay our rent. But it doesn't make me feel better to know that others are struggling, many of them more than we are. It makes me feel worse.

My fiance and I are children of the 90's. My parents started out pretty poor in the beginning of their marriage as did his parents, but by the time we were toddlers things were looking up. My parents upgraded from their starter house to their custom built dream home when I was 8. Money was never an issue. There was never any doubt my brother and I would get cars when were 16. We were always told we'd never have to worry about paying for college. We got nice presents at Christmas and birthdays. We went on vacations every year. Never once did I hear my parents say "We can't afford that". The biggest news in Washington was Bill Clinton's sexual escapades.

Growing up in such a time of prosperity and relative peace spoiled me. I was always under the impression that if I did everything right: get good grades, go to college, graduate, my life would be a piece of cake. I'd graduate and get a good paying albeit entry-level job. I'd work my way up and eventually (in my mid to late 20's) I'd open my own restaurant with an investment from my Dad. He'd pay for my wedding and my in-laws the down payment for my new house.

So imagine my surprise when I did everything right....and nothing happened. I couldn't understand it. I still don't. College = good job. That's what I'd been taught. That is not my reality. I'm 24. I should be farther along. I shouldn't be hoarding spare change to pay for my wedding cake.

My fiance takes it even harder than I do. He feels that pressure to be the traditional bread-winner male that our fathers were. If things don't get better, how will we buy a house? How will we raise a family? What will life be like in this country for our children? I pray that things will turn around and that it will be like it was for our parents. Maybe this is all one big cycle. Things have to be tough so that they can get better.