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Friday, March 21, 2014

Yesterday - Debt Free-dom

Today I paid off my student loan.  It was very unceremonious, a mere transaction between myself and a digitized operator.  I entered my checking account number. She said the payment would be processed in 3-5 business days and instructed me to press 9 to return to the main menu.  Just like that I was debt free.  No confetti, no streamers, no marching band. I just kept getting ready to go to my grown up job.

It’d been 9 years to the day I finished my last final, self-published my first book and walked out of the last class in which my teacher told me she was giving me the only 4.0 she was going to give that quarter.  I should have been on cloud nine.  I should have walked away with weight lifted and free.  Instead, I walked out of the building and what was my first instinct? Cry.  I cried tears of regret and fear.  I broke down and sobbed because for the first time in my life I had no idea what I was going to do next.  All I wanted to do was plow through college so I could work. I wanted to fast track life to join the rat-race work force because that’s what I was supposed to do. 

Post-college reality punched me in the gut when I walked out that door. I was in a relationship that was lovely but I knew wouldn’t really last and I wanted to be in one with someone else. My hyper-scheduled, color-coded calendar became a vast chasm of free time….but to do what?  I lived in a cute little apartment  but knew it wasn’t home and my roommate and I would go separate ways.  It was such an unknown period in life that nothing I knew felt like the right place, space or feeling.

So on that last night of college, I called my best buddy and he met me at my spot. I sat and cried while he sympathized and assured me that all would be fine.  We both knew it would, but how, we couldn’t pin point.   

The next week I researched publishing programs around the country that set me on a life path that would take me to where I am today.

I wish I could tell the scared 22 year old me that I was going to be just fine and to calm the freak down.  I wish I could tell me that I was actually going to be better than fine and that the best was yet to come. And that I couldn’t even imagine how life would exceed my expectations, throw serious curveballs, feel the highest highs and the lowest lows. I wish I could tell myself I’d see the world and fall in love with it as much as I would fall in love with my home town.  That I’d leave and come back stronger and braver. I wish I could tell myself that you can’t plan life by 15 minute increments…stop being that ridiculous and be other kinds of good ridiculous.    

Now it’s time to really do other grown up things like maybe get married, save for the future, invest, plan for retirement, have a budget, meal plan for a week’s meals, organize the closets, meet with a financial advisor, etc.  But before that, the blossoms are out and I’ll head to my spot...for old time’s sake. 


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