My birthday passed recently, placing me firmly in the mid-30’s category. This was the most depressing birthday yet…. I didn’t even bother acknowledging the day, hoping that by ignoring it, it would somehow not exist. After I hit age 28 or so and realized that my life had gone to $hit… every birthday since has been a pain in the ass. It’s a day that I pretty much dread every year. Because the day is just a reminder that I have not done anything with my life… and time was basically close to running out for any kind of last minute 9th inning effort to salvage it.
Back when I was 19 & 20, I had dreams & goals of having a great career, nice cars, a nice home, a wife and maybe even children by the time I reached my mid 30’s. But none of those things ever materialized. I’m like the poster boy for broken dreams.
I have a shitty job…that I hate getting up for every day. I drive a piece of shit 2001 Chrysler (I will never buy anything from Chrysler or any other American car company again). Home? Who can afford a home these days? Home ownership requires a certain minimum income, which I have not yet attained. I live in a shitty apartment in a lower middle class neighborhood (what used to be middle class) in St. Louis County. Wife????? I don’t even date… No career…and low cash flow means that I keep myself at home… in this society where relationships and dating are basically about financial status & is how women determine who gets their attention… I never saw the point in trying. And I hate nightclubs so much that I have never set foot in one (a fact that I pride myself on). So the wife thing is not even close to being in the picture. Children? Refer back to no career, which= no money, which = no nice car, which= no fancy house or condo, which= no woman (at least not the kind of women that I want). No money will almost always = no woman….and none of the social circles that you want either.
I have spent most of the past 10 years going to school….while slaving away at my bull---- job, chasing some dream of financial viability (ie. boyfriend/husband viability). But the harder I work, the more out of reach my dreams seem to be. The U.S. is becoming increasingly classist.. And it seems to be harder to get from the bottom to a higher level. It’s almost as if we have our own version of a caste system….where upward mobility is almost impossible.
Life is a bitch if you are poor or weren’t born into generational family wealth. I have always been annoyed by the rich guys for how easy they have it. There are definitely a lot of advantages that come with being born into privilege- advantages that help you later on down the line. Such as, coming out of college with little or no debt, being able to attend the Ivy League schools, landing the great career job, dating & marrying the person of your choice, the ability to buy a home while still young, etc. I, on the other hand, am saddled by $60,000 of student load debt, and I am about to pile on even more because I intend to return to school within the next year.
And being a Black man has only compounded the negatives. Being Black makes nearly everything harder. Whether it is career, dating, finances, etc. I am constantly thinking about what I would do if I could push a rewind button and start life all over again. I would have definitely gone to an Ivy League school (or I would have at least tried)…. I once believed that it didn’t matter what college you went to, as long as it was a good school. But I no longer believe that. In today’s competitive environment, you need every advantage you can get, and where you go to school does count. I wish I had known that 15 years ago. I would have also gotten a degree in something that I could have actually used. My degrees are completely useless. I might have also gone into a Trade. People who learn a Trade, make more money than a lot of college graduates. And I would have had less student debt if I had gone that route. So I would have chosen something more practical to go into.
I would have also chosen a career path earlier….thus eliminating most of the problems that I have now with everything else….such as the lack of money…and all that comes (or doesn’t come) behind it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of going straight to college after High School. My father died and left nothing behind… (as black folks so often do) and I ended up having to work full time straight out of high school. In doing so, I lost 2-3 years of college time. When I finally did go to college, I was only able to study for one semester, and then I was out again for another 3 years because…. I had to work to support myself. My family was absent when it came to helping me. I had to work and get my own apartment, own transportation, etc. I was finally able to go to school while working full-time, but because of work…. I could only go sporadically and sometimes had to change my status to part-time, in order to keep things going. Some semesters I had to skip altogether. It took me 7 years to get a bachelors degree… and 2 for a graduate degree. 14 years passed between the time that I graduated from High School until my last year of college. This is the difference between growing up poor and growing up in privilege… People who come from privilege don’t have to burden themselves with actually working to get their next meal. They can concentrate on their studies….and graduate when they are supposed to, without losing so much precious time.
I also constantly think about how my life would have turned out if I grew up as a rich White kid. This is because I have never been comfortable in my own skin… in fact, I have always hated being in my own skin… probably since the time I was old enough to notice that I was different. But I wonder…how would my social life be different, how would dating be different, would my job search be more successful. I know there would definitely have been benefits in certain areas of life, just by virtue of having White skin. White privilege is pretty nice. Dating would have definitely been better. The white male is still the ideal preferred choice and will probably always be, for the greatest cross section of women. Why do I constantly see Asian women with White men? That’s no coincidence. The White male, to many women, is a symbol of financial security, etc. Even good Black women are turning to White men, because the image of Black men has been pretty much destroyed…. It has reached a point now where we are all assumed to be ignorant, oversexed, “dogs”, violent, deadbeats, you name it…anything negative is attached to the Black male image. Of course I know these images are not representative of all or probably not even most Black men, but most of the rest of society has not caught on.
It’s interesting that the few Black women who I have been interested in…turned out to be either already involved with White men, or I later found out that they had a preference for White men….and thus I had no chance. The image of the Black male has reached pariah status now…. Mostly at the hands of Black people…which is ironic. This is why (for the short time that I did date) I had so much difficulty. I don’t have a particular race preference…so the issue of interracial dating often came up. But the White women would see my ethnicity via my online profile, and would run for the Hills. Asian women were even more harsh. Most of the White and Asian women would tell me that their families would not approve of them dating a Black man. Black Women???? Well, it was hard finding any who I had anything in common with….or who I had any attraction to. And when I did… you can probably guess the result. They tended to prefer White men. The last woman I dated…(4 years ago) was Hispanic. But that didn’t work out because she was not what I was hoping for. She turned out to be damaged goods. She didn’t know what to do with a halfway decent guy. She was in her mid 20’s and she told me that I was the first man to ever bring her flowers. WTH? She spent a considerable amount of time on our dates talking about how bad she was treated (mistreated) by the thug of a boyfriend who she just left. It just said a lot about her tastes in men…and I decided that it wasn’t worth my time and effort to continue. Common among most women (and this was mostly from online dating) was that they expect a man to have reached a certain level financially. Basically I am locked out of the dating pool that I want to be in because of the lack of funds….which has always been the most important thing for a man in the dating scene.
Although I have accomplished little in my life so far… it is not too late to do something with the time I have left. The only thing that gets me up everyday is the possibility that something better could be just around the corner in terms of my finances and job prospects. Besides that, there would be no reason for me to wake up.
But this is the kind of thing that runs through my head a million times a day, especially on my birthday. They are so dreadful that the only thing I want to know is- can I make it stop and press rewind and start this thing all over again. And birthdays get worse as you get older… each year seems to be more dreadful than the previous one.
But maybe my fortunes (literally and figuratively) will change in the coming year.