Welcome back to me after a long hiatus from the keyboard. I haven’t actually been up to anything of consequence (unless you count watching all 3 seasons of Roswell) so its not like I was neglecting my blog to do anything important, it just fell by the wayside. Kind of like everybodys childhood dreams.
Today I’m here to talk about Baby Boomers ie, your parents, or even YOU if you are someone’s parent reading this blog (Hi Debs!). I’m going to examine Baby Boomers and how their fears and ideals may have shaped your life into something that you didn’t actually want for yourself.
It’s a known fact that many parents don’t like it when their teenagers make life-changing decisions for themselves. I think that this is a combination of fear that only they know what’s best, not being able to relinquish control over their child’s life, and not wanting their child to do anything that may embarrass them and force them to admit to other smug parents that no, their child now won’t be going to university when they leave school.
I was constantly fed the same dribble as a teenager by my mother: “You have to go to university, otherwise you won’t be able to get a decent job and you’ll die”. When I pointed out that both her and Dad left school around age 16 and became successful people who both owned businesses, I was always told “yes, but it’s different nowadays. We could walk into an apprenticeship at age 16, there’s no such thing as apprenticeships anymore”. Hmmm. Tell that to my friend Keg, who left school to do an electricians apprenticeship and was able to own his own home at the age of 22 (and now probably has several more and dabbles in real estate on the side). Tell that to Klone Hairdressing who offered me a hairdressing apprenticeship when I was 16!! When I was a teenager, I really wanted to be a hairdresser or makeup artist. I really wanted to do that hairdressing apprenticeship, and my mum wouldn’t let me “leave school and ruin my life”. She wouldn’t listen to reason that even if I did leave school and didn’t enjoy hairdressing in the long run, ANYONE CAN GO TO UNI AFTER AGE 20 ANYWAY. So even if I truly screwed up my life by leaving school (unlikely), I could actually have still had a fresh start at the age of 20.
I really wished that I had been a dumb child. The curse that I was struck with, was that I advanced very quickly in terms of education. When I was 10, I was reading at a 15 year old level. When I was 13, I was completing maths at a 15 year old level. Guess what happened? At age 15, everyone else caught up with me and I was no longer considered “brainy”, I was just plain average. (I think I may even be regressing – at age 27, I’m blogging at a 14 year old level). Having 10 years under my belt of teachers telling my parents that I was incredibly smart/gifted worked against me. When I was no longer outstanding or achieving straight A’s, there was obviously something wrong with me. I wasn’t trying hard enough, and I could be so much more, why didn’t I CARE anymore? Guess what? I never “stopped caring”, or put any less effort in than I did when I was 10. I always cruised through school just being myself, and if the onset of age 15 made me “average” then I really didn’t care. I was never trying to get A’s previously, my parents just assumed that because I was getting them, I must have been really trying and actually caring about it. B’s and the odd C still did the job in senior high school, so who even gave a shit anymore?
So because of my “supposed gifted mind” I was deemed “too smart” to leave school to do an apprenticeship, I was destined to go to university. Of course university rolled around and I didn’t even know what I wanted to do, so I enrolled in law to appease my mum (who I considered to be very scary as a teenager and would never go against her wishes). Unsurprisingly I dropped out of law because it was boring as shit and not at all what I wanted to do with my life. My mum didn’t speak to me for over 2 weeks.
After dropping out of university, I started working full-time, as a bartender. WOW, GREAT USE OF MY GIFTED MIND THERE. I actually wasted 2003 until 2006 doing this and getting married. So basically at age 21 I had completely thrown 3 of the best years of my life away just being a married bartender – which is fine if its what you really want to be doing, but its not what I wanted out of life at all. I went back to uni and studied archaeology this time, however had to pay my own tuition as punishment for having ditched it the first time round. I actually really enjoyed archaeology however I don’t have much use for it now, as I have wanted to be a tattoo artist for the past 5 years.
So by following the Baby Boomers dream, I stayed in school and went straight to university. I am now 27 years old and have no qualifications conducive to my career goal or to my current job. I spent the last 5 years stuck in more jobs that I don’t like paying off massive amounts of debt from poor choices that I made when I didn’t have a real career, and I now still owe around $20 000 of a student loan. I am only now just financially able to start work towards my career goal – at age 27, when most people I know already have houses and assets at this age. My older brother has 2 houses and makes almost double what I do in a year, and he got Ds and Cs throughout high school. He didn’t go to university and although he went to Polytech to study hospitality (TAFE, for you Aussies) I don’t recall if he graduated, and if he did, he doesn’t work in the hospitality industry anyway so that qualification has nothing to do with his current success.
The main point is, university is NOT the be-all and end-all if you want your child to be successful. Don’t push them into going to university if they don’t actually know what they want to do. For a Baby Boomer that never went to university, a student loan is something that they never even consider. They don’t see past their thoughts of “I want my child to be successful, I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I did/I want them to have the opportunities I never had” etc etc etc. Being pressured to go to uni when I could have been earning a wage and learning a good trade at the same time sucked big time. I wish I’d never been an intelligent kid if this is where it landed me. My brother didn’t get pressured to do shit and he is really fucking successful and happy. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy, but its taken a hell of a long time to get there. And my brother isn’t at all unintelligent (on the contrary he’s very smart) but he was never “school-smart” ie his grades were average and he shone on the sports field instead of in the classroom, so nobody got any wise ideas about him having to go to uni or else he would die.
So here is my advice to children: Firstly, you shouldn’t even be reading my blog, its full of mild drug references, cussin’ and coarse adult themes, Secondly, for fuck’s sake if you are smart then you know it and nobody else has to until you’re older. Just keep that shit to yourself and pretend to be average so that nobody expects big things of you and then you will be able to make the choices that you really want without too much backlash from the parentals.
And here is my advice to parents: Stop comparing your childs school years to your own. Just because you didn’t get to go to uni doesn’t mean your child has to. Just because it “seems” scarier these days to get into a decent job when in your day, you could just wave a shit-covered stick at a gentleman and he’d hire you as his company CEO, doesn’t mean anything. If you deem your child to be of superior intelligence, then for fucks sake stop worrying about them. If they are intelligent they will be fine. Intelligent people don’t end up as barmaids forever unless they actually want to. Lastly, DO NOT PRESSURE YOUR CHILD TO GO TO UNI. University MUST be your child’s personal decision. Why? Because if you make that decision for them, you are setting them up for a massive student loan for a degree that they will either drop out of once they have left home and are no longer scared of you, or that they will not use once they work out what it is that they really want to do. A teacher saying that your kid would make a great lawyer and your kid saying “yeah that could be fun” at age 11 DOES NOT MEAN THEY ACTUALLY WANT TO BE A LAWYER. Stop getting your hopes up.
For the many of my friends that have children, the best you can do is encourage your child to pursue what they enjoy. If I had a kid that came to me at age 16 and said “Mum I want to leave school to do xyz apprenticeship” I would ask them why, and if they could provide a thoughtful answer then hells yes – they can do that. If they tell you at age 12 that they want to be a doctor, just tell them that they do need to get good grades and go to university for this, and leave it at that. You have given them the education, now let them proceed in their own way. And don’t whinge on at them when they are 18 about how they were “going to be a doctor”. People change their mind all the time when they are 12 years old. Let them change their mind, its how they will discover what they want out of life. Also, not everyone has to actually undertake tertiary study to do be happy and successful, and it doesn’t matter what other people’s children are, or are not doing – that shit is none of your business. Please remember that success is not measured by the size of one’s wallet, nor in comparison to what others are doing. Success is measured by the fulfilment that your son or daughter gets out of their life, and by the way in which they interact with others. I say that you shouldn’t even care what grades they get at school, you should be more concerned with whether they have good manners and treat others kindly, and whether they can survive a day without a cellphone. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture, because school is such a small part of life and for 70% of us, doesn’t have any effect on how the rest of our lives turn out.
I just want to finish this post with a thought after re-reading it; yes my Mum definitely did pressure me to go to uni, however she in no way did this for any other reason than that she wanted me to be successful and happy. Again this is the screwed-up Baby Boomer mentality, when really all she wanted was for me to have a good life. My parents always loved me very much and I want eveyone reading this to know that, however this is my hindsight view of the pressure I felt as a teenager, and if it helps open the eyes of just one parent reading this, then possibly it might make a difference to the life of some awkward future teenager, somewhere.
Love, Chelle xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxox