I turned 30 this year, and I didn’t really think much of it while 29.
In fact, I sort of relished the fact that I wasn’t stressing about it. Then I turned 30. And I started to think.
What have I done in my twenties?
It wasn’t long before I started comparing myself to my own ideas of society’s standards for a 30 year old man:
- Be well into your career
- Be married, with kids
- Have a house
- Have some sort of savings or investments
I dismissed these requirements as foolishness. After all, they didn’t apply to me. It was very easy to come up with excuses, the main one being my undocumented status.
I feel like I overuse that as an excuse, sometimes. But, of course I would say that, now that I have the benefits of not being completely undocumented.
Ok, let’s take the bait, and get sidetracked.
Well this is controversial. But I will only speak from my own experience.
I have totally done this. Maybe not outwardly, but definitely inwardly. Many a time have felt inadequate at something, only to hide behind the shield of my undocumented status.
Celso, you should be making more money by now. You’re 28!
But I’m undocumented. The system is stacked against me. There’s no way.
Celso, you are 29, you should have a house by now!
But I’m undocumented. I can’t participate in society’s game of spending 10+ hours a day to lease land from a government, that has a house, which will most likely be empty most of the day anyways.
Celso, you are 30, you should have you’re career figured out.
But I’m undocumented. I can’t have a traditional career, because I can’t have a traditional job.
Celso, you are 30, you should have some friends.
But I’m undocumented. I’m too busy hustling my next freelance job to have a social life.
Maybe I’m too hard on myself. Maybe I think those are excuses because I an now slightly less undocumented. I can get a job now with DACA. I don’t have to go through the struggle. I can now officially look down on those rationalizations as excuses for the weak.
I don’t know.
All I know is how I feel about that right now. But let’s say my work permit doesn’t renew this year. Will I go back to using those rationalizations as excuses for my lack of progress in getting a house, growing in my career, or saving?
Maybe, I know the struggle is real. That’s why I can only speak for myself about this. I’m curious to know what other people think about this, though.
Ok, back to the topic.
So is this just a generational thing? I googled (didn’t actually use google, used Duck Duck Go) the exact title of this blog post. I came across Dr. Meg Jay’s Ted Talk about this is not the case.
She basically says that even though millenials are getting married and having kids later in life, we should not use that as an excuse to do some life planning.
And to that I go back to my same tired excuse: it’s hard to plan saving for retirement when you are forcibly self-employed.
I say forcibly because that’s how I felt it was for me. I was undocumented. I could not get hired, literally. I had to create my own job. I had to be a freelancer to practice the career I wanted: web development.
So I did it. But that doesn’t mean I was any good at it. In fact, that’s precisely why I struggled. I spent half my twenties trying to make it as a freelancer. I was surviving. I didn’t know how to charge properly. I didn’t know how to properly scope a project. I hated networking, which is needed as freelancer in order to get new gigs.
As luck would have it, I felt I started getting decent at these things just before I moved from self-employed to employed.
So yeah, my undocumented status had a lot to do with my ability to grow in my career.
Having a house? Let’s not even go there. Sure it’s easy to get in debt when you can prove to the bank you have a steady income. But as an undocumented person, that is not always easy.
Where am I going with all this? There is no destination, just a journey of thought.
I guess I can summarize with this: