Just wanted to get this off my chest…

This is a first blog entry. I am thinking my theme will be that of the perspectives of a thirty something college student. In keeping with supposed internet tradition, let’s start off with a rant.

To put what I am about to write about into context, first let me tell you a little bit about myself. I graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2001 and promptly joined the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant. I have been serving on active duty for over 10 years and I have been stationed in Germany and Fort Stewart, Georgia amongst other places.  I have served two tours of duty in Iraq and I currently hold the rank of Major.  Finally, my current military occupational specialty designates me as a public affairs officer.  To that end I am currently pursuing a graduate degree in public relations at the University of Georgia to enhance my skills in future military endeavors.

Now that that is out of the way, let me move on to my primary reason for writing this post. For a while now, I have noticed a theme that has been making its rounds around the internet, news stories, and opinion pieces.  Specifically, it is that today’s young adults do not want to grow up. I recently read a New York Times article entitled “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” that discussed these said milestones.  This is the link to the article if you want to read it: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1332544000-M4zFRCMT0zR07ICtsb+35g.  Hopefully it does not ask you to log in, but I digress. Long article short, it basically stated that by the age of thirty the average adult should have completed the following five milestones: 1) complete school, 2) leave home, 3) have a job and be financially independent, 4) get married, and 5) have children.  More often or not, it seems that this criticism is directed toward men and the assumption that they do not want to grow up.

My gripe behind this is that based on that based on that logic, I should not be considered a real adult because I have yet to meet all of these so called milestones on the path to traditional adulthood. Commentators currently seem to be making a hobby decrying the fact that fewer and fewer young adults – and men in general – are getting married and starting a family or are putting it off more and more. My favorite argument, if you can call it that, was one where you are being a selfish person if you are delaying marriage and kids.  I forget where I saw that gem; I would cite it otherwise.  Another good one is that fewer men are to be considered “marriageable” because more and more women are outperforming them in both educational and professional achievements.  There might be some truth to that one, but I get the impression that this is being assumed to apply to all men due to writers like Maureen Dowd, so thanks.  There is also the argument that I myself do not know real responsibility because I do not have any kids. This is sort of a repeat of what I said earlier, but it has the added bonus in the fact that some holier-than-thou jerk actually said it to my face a while back. Just so we are clear, I have avoided fathering a child while not married or in an otherwise stable relationship.  That seems responsible to me.  I define that as “doing it right.”

Okay, so obviously I have done the first three on the list. I have even owned a house, and my car is fully paid for.  But I am no closer to doing the last two now than I was 15 years ago.  Ask me in five years if that has changed.  Anyway, as to the sentiment that since I have not married and started my own family I should be considered a kid, please allow me to respond.  Remember that I spent four years stationed overseas. Once I came back from Germany, I had exactly eight months in the U.S. before I was deployed to Iraq for 16 months during the 2007 – 2008 Surge with the Third Infantry Division.  While deployed, I took command of a company, redeployed it to Fort Stewart in July 2008, and spent the next 15 months training and preparing it for the next deployment to Iraq.  Half way through that second deployment, I finally passed command to a fellow captain.  Believe me, I was ready to step down! But again, I digress.  My brigade returned home in late October 2010, and from there I focused on gaining admittance to UGA with the blessing of the Army.  My point is that I have been sort of busy the last 10 years. By my count, I have spent six years and two months of the last 10 years overseas.  At least another year and a half was spent conducting various training events, field exercises, and mission rehearsals. From my perspective, Halloween 2010 until now is the first period in recent memory that I have had in which I have been able to experience – what I consider at least – a normal shot at a social life.  If you could find someone you could date, have a relationship with, marry, and start a family under this timeline with these conditions, I take my hat off to you.

Alright, I’m done. So I am a thirty something, single male graduate student (and Army officer) who likes going to bars with his friends, who likes playing Xbox, and who likes sleeping until 10 o’clock in the morning when he can.  I also like skiing, reading, rock climbing, golf, camping, shooting guns, watching movies, and working out.  And I like sleeping until 10 o’clock. Maybe I am wrong, but I think I have earned my current station in life.  So what if I am unmarried and childless.  That does not make me any less of a man. I have simply taken a different – some might say harder – path. I just want the opinion writers and talking heads to recognize that fact and say as much. Maybe they should do a couple of military tours in a hostile area and then we can talk. I know they won’t, but a guy can dream. There is also the possibility that they are not talking about me per say, but when I fit the demographic it is hard for me not to take it personally. This might have come off a little more bitter and mean spirited that I wanted, but I did say it was a rant. Maybe I am being unreasonable and I am just in a bad mood and merely need to turn off the TV and internet for a while.

Stay tuned, there is plenty more where this came from. I might even have a war story or two…

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Just wanted to get this off my chest…

  1. Fred, I share your sentiment. Our lives are drastically different from that of our parents and grandparents, yet the social expectations for 20 and 30 somethings haven’t changed that much. Given that the average college student will graduate with about $20,000 in student loan debt (let’s not talk about a graduate student), combined with a pretty shaky job market it’s understandable that young adults are waiting to embark on marriage and parenthood.

  2. I also completely agree your post Fred. We’re almost lucky to live in a generation where we have the luxury of time. My grandmother and grandfather met and married within a week, and funny part is that they were probably so rushed because he was in the military. Now, we can put off the milestones, because we have time and an understanding that those milestones may not be a necessity after all. So, I’m with you Fred, maybe not about the whole playing Xbox and shooting guns thing, but everything else, definitely.

  3. Haha, screw the milestones. I agree with the author that having a family and children will make you more mature, but not having that does NOT mean you are less mature at all (not to mention the so called “real man”). People grow up in various ways, marriage is just one of them. I myself don’t want to get married and settle down in ten years (FYI I’m 23 now), not because I’m afraid of assume responsibility, but because this world is so iridescent, with endless possibilities and opportunities await me to explore. Fully concentrating on career will make me a better person with broader horizon (just like your oversea life), and more prepared (either financially or mentally) for marriage, which is also beneficial for offsprings. Btw can’t wait for your war stories!

  4. Ning Huang

    That’s an article full of details, which let me learn enough about you. To many people in China, they do not quite present themselves like this online, because of the characteristics of Asians. However, I think we need to learn something from you, based on which other people could go near to us.

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