As a kid I hated the end of summers. It meant school starting up again and seeing some my classmates. It meant hearing what everyone did over the summer, from summer camp to going to that magical place called DisneyLand, and for some Disney World. Living in Hawaii means you can’t just jump in the family car and do road trips. It costs thousands to fly a family out, with car rentals and hotel lodgings all factored in.
As a fourth grader I wanted to be an astronaut (what fourth grader didn’t want to be one?). This kid in my class got to go to NASA for space camp, coolest summer trip ever. I didn’t get to go on my first real trip until the fifth grade on a school sponsored event. The only way I could afford to go was earning money through a school fundraiser. I was so jealous that other kids parents loved them so much more than mine did. So and so’s parents were divorced also, but they got to go to Disney Land. Even in my housing complex a lot of my friends still got to go to the mainland. I promised myself when I grew up I’ll get a good job and never miss out. I’m going to have the same experiences everyone else has.
Of course once I got the nice job I was able to fulfill that promise to myself. Road trips to Vegas to gamble, Arizona to float down the salt rive. Check, check. Overseas trips, just call me international man of mystery. No worries put it on the credit card for a month, two or three, when I get my bonus it’ll be paid off. Buying a $35,000 BMW on a $40,000 salary? Of course a man’s got to date and show the ladies his fine taste. The trifecta of achieving the American Dream? I’ll have one of each please: student loan debt, fancy car loan, and credit card debt.
Here’s the biggest irony, when I was a poor 10 year old kid I had everything. I never went hungry, I had a home to live in, I had clothes and shoes for school. I didn’t owe anything to anyone. Yet when I got my first real job and had negative net worth, I was worse off than when I was a 10 year old kid. If I had lost my job I couldn’t afford to pay the interest on my loans, much less food and shelter. My need to “live” the American Dream meant a life of constant worry.
We all have so much more than we realize, we often overlook our blessings. The ironic thing is when you pursue what others have you often end up with nothing.