“The Cost of a Free Spirit” by Connor Kreger
Allow me to offer you a cliché perspective, one that you’ve probably heard before and perhaps you can even relate to yourself.
I’ve always thought that the main difference between my parents and myself is that I’m more of a “free spirit.” My parents are relatively open minded people, but overall they live a pretty traditional life revolving around work, family, and relaxation on the weekends. I might not be the black sheep, but I’ve always been the dreamer of the family; the one most interested in travel and adventure, the one with grand ambitions of writing novels and starting a band, the one more prone to taking risks. My parents aren’t squares, but I’m sure I’ve partied harder and done way more drugs than both of them combined. It might sound like I’m bragging about this, but I’m not, and especially now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to see this from a different angle, and it’s kind of starting to fuck with me. I’ve begun to consider something: I may only be this way because my parents have made it possible for me to be this way. Let me explain my thinking here.
I’m 23, single, I live rent-free with my parents, and my monthly expenditures are fairly minimal aside from my student loans. I recently made the decision to quit my soul-sucking corporate job to take a whack at freelancing and teach myself web development (be on the lookout for my upcoming blog post, “Why I Quit My Soul-Sucking Corporate Job to Take a Whack at Freelancing and Teach Myself Web Development”). I have a bit of money saved up, and I’m thinking of using it to plan a trip to Colorado, and maybe another trip to Mexico and Cuba, and then maybe another trip to Dubai and Jordan. This is all after a summer that was spent going to concerts and music festival, and going out more than I ever have before. What’s that? That seems a little extravagant for an unemployed unestablished 20-something, you say? But you’re wrong; despite my youth, I am an adult, and I’ve been working an adult job for nearly 6 months and can actually sort of afford this lifestyle. Again, I’m not bragging, this all leading up to a point, and here it comes.
My parents didn’t live like this when they were my age. When they were my age, they were working full-time while finishing their Bachelor’s degrees, newly-married and with a child on the way, living in a newly purchased house and paying their monthly mortgage. The never had the opportunity to quit their jobs because they were unhappy with their work, there was already way too much at stake. I, on the other hand, have a safety net, and it’s… well, it’s my parents. My current sense of security, and perhaps even my free spirited-ness, is really just rooted in the privilege of having parents that are willing and able to support me when/if I need it. My parents’ generation didn’t have that, or at least my parents didn’t (I don’t know about yours). So maybe my self-perceived independence is really just a symptom of my actual dependence on my parents. It’s when I realized this that I stepped back and had to ask myself an important question: Damn, am I Millennial scum, or what?
It’s not worth answering that question, but I will say this: I know that my parents do this knowingly, and subtly encourage me to accept their help without leaning on them too much. I’ve taken over all of my own bills (I say this like it’s an achievement, but it’s really not), I’ve started trying to spend and save more responsibly, and perhaps most important, I’m trying to make a real effort to recognize and be thankful for everything my parents have done and continue to do for me. I know that they didn’t live like this when they were my age, but they wanted to, so they decided that they would do everything they can to make it possible for me to have a bit more disposable income in my pocket and enjoy things that they dreamed of as young adults, things like being able to travel and pursue a meaningful and fulfilling career. I guess the best thing that I can do now it take what they’ve given me and fully embrace it, allowing my free spirit to fly with the compassion and love that they instilled within me.
My God, that was corny.
Image belongs to Connor Kreger.