When I was eighteen years old, I made a list of things that I expected to have done by age thirty. They were optimistic, but at the time, the world was a big, bright, enticing place, and I was a wide-eyed naive boy ready to conquer it all. I remember, still, most of the items on that list: to fluently speak four languages; to be a cardiologist; to be married to a beautiful woman; to have cute, smart children; to be physically fit and still play soccer; to travel and have traveled. I pictured myself as this much wiser, calmer, astute version of my then-self. More adult, I suppose.
I have guess I have disappointed myself.
The world's vibrancy and potential waned as the path I'd chosen took unexpected turns. Endeavors failed. Friends and loved ones died. Promises weren't kept. Mistakes were made. . . and made again . . . and the uncertainty and confusion that had begun to creep up on me in my late teens only amplified, slowly building from a hesitant whisper into a steady, rebuking chant. As the stakes grew higher-- debt, obligations, and responsibilities-- not only did the uncertainties echo louder and louder in my mind, but the inner criticisms added their refrains to the opus. With each passing year, the composition continues its crescendo, with no indication of stopping.
I don't pretend that the regret and disappointment that I feel is vastly different from that of others, whom I'm sure experience similar feelings when they have reached thirty. I remember back to the "Baz Luhrmann" bit from when I was in high school, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)," where the narrator says "Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting forty year olds still don't." Well I guess I am interesting, according to Baz.
I've just started my own law practice. I almost get embarrassed calling it such. . . it's just me and a laptop and some books. I'm eager to prove myself and make this into a business, but at the same time, I know that deep down, I have no interest in practicing law, and find it boring and uninteresting. So what am I do to with myself? I guess that's the question. I'm stuck in something of a Catch-22. I would like to do something else with myself (I have no idea what), but I have such staggering student loan debt, that the only option is to . . . practice law. I'd like to lash out at my law Alma Mater for misleading us on our job prospects. I'd like to lash out at the government for providing easy access to loans, and again at the school for jacking up tuition over and over again for no reason. I'd like to lash out at the boomers for drilling us into thinking that we had to go to these overpriced institutions or else we'd be losers. But mostly I just blame myself. I should have known what I was getting into. I should have done better.
I hope that some day I will not regret having gotten my law degree.
I'm hoping that some day I will look back at today and smile at the clueless SOB who wrote this diatribe about his life. I'm hoping that a wiser, calmer, more astute version of myself will have assuaged the cacophony of uncertainty and regret, and will take a moment to congratulate himself on his accomplishments, having seen how dismal it all seemed so long ago. Funny, that's how I felt when I was eighteen. Funny.