I couldn’t sleep last night. I’d been researching the prices of cars and I just couldn’t believe it. I started realizing how much time and money I’d wasted throughout my 20s and it really upset me.
First of all, I applied to one grad school, got in, and went. Then I spent 2 years getting a useless master’s degree, thinking, What else is there to do? Jobwise, there was a writer’s strike in Hollywood, a small recession, and then 9/11 happened.
Not only did I go into debt by going to school, but immediately afterwards I went into a profession that doesn’t pay you more for having more education. You get paid less, actually, because your school loans take away from your salary. I had more schooling than anyone on staff, including all my superiors and big boss. But through August of 2005—four years after graduating cum laude from USC—I was still doing things like hustling to Soho to return my boss’s boyfriend’s jeans.
And in grad school, while I’d been reading Plato and Kafka in a snow-covered hamlet for two years, my friends used that time to advance from assistant to associate, or more likely, analyst to manager. I came out of graduate school a glorified temp/intern.
I lived in the most expensive city in the U.S. and I struggled. It never got better. It was all glamour and no dough. Publishing has never been about profits. Add in the growing popularity of the internet and the decline of ad sales and circulation and…I shudder.
I used to think I was behind. Now I feel irreversibly behind. Completely screwed. I can’t believe I’ve wasted my 20s studying and traveling and writing and freelancing. DUH!
Seriously, if anyone out there is reading this and you’re in your 20s, do not waste a single year. Do not take the time for granted. Do not “better” yourself. You will forget 99% of what you learned. Do not go to grad school unless you have proof that it will further your career and give you a higher salary. Don’t major in something just because you like it. I like to read and write. Which means I probably already knew how to write. Major in something that’s practical. Think real hard about the industry you’re entering. And keep your eyes open for Mr. Right. But don’t fixate on anyone. Keep moving. Otherwise, you could be me. I’m on my own, stranded without a car. Adultlescence. Not so funny today.