You’ll transform into a cow

Late last night I was reading a great article about financial planning (yeah, these are the sorts of things I do sometimes) and the discussion shifted to how to teach our kids how to be fiscally responsible and pick up “good habits” as soon as possible. Since I’m not sure how good my own financial habits are, it’s hard to know whether I’m passing along good things or not.

Nonetheless, there was a great comment that spoke to me because I felt the same way back in the day:

It was only after college that I got hit with the reality of office life, bills, debt, and losing my naive idea that somehow I’d make it big in life if I’d just finish college. I always thought of myself as an interested and curious kid who could learn easily, so I thought after graduation there’d obviously be a place for me in a cool organization with a nice pay package. In reality, there’s literally nothing at all waiting for you– you have to go and get it, and there’s a big grind as you start from scratch.

Going from being a kid to being an adult was like having someone tell me I’d transform into a cow in five years, and it’s really important, and I should learn all about it. So sure, I could read the textbooks and articles and do the exercises about cows, but there’s nothing that prepares you for the actual experience, nor convinces you how life-changing it’ll be.

So true. College was an amazing experience for me: challenging and eye-opening and a ton of work mixed with a ton of fun. And as I hit the end of my college career I sort of figured everything would work out (which may be why I waited until spring break of my senior year to even start looking for jobs). It was quite a shock to find out there was nothing waiting for me unless I made it happen myself. Of course in retrospect it’s easy to think, “Well, duh. Everyone knows that.” But the truth is, a twenty-something who’s known nothing but school for sixteen or so years, with a few low-paying jobs and minor responsibilities mixed in, can’t really fathom that post-college experience until it happens.

I just hope I’m preparing my kids well. They’re great, and I know they’ll be successful in their different ways, but sometimes I don’t even know how I can help them. I guess we’ll see what happens in the next few years…