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Mary Vidaurri

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How do you balance living practically, with reaching for your dreams? How much does material gain matter, realistically?

As a teenager, there aren't many people within my age group willing to discuss life’s dilemmas outside of drama unfolding on FB, resulting in mental asphyxiation.
I've got my whole, too brief life, stretched out before me, and the sheer stunningness of my own mortality leads me to question the path my life will lead, and the "real" world impact of my decisions.
I want life and every word to the extent that it's absurd. I want to take every opportunity to travel, and fully experience life, even if it means I don't have much in material wealth. I don't mind hardship, I've lived with it. As long as I have enough for food and healthcare I'm fine. (This plan definitely includes college:)
Yet my family and culture pushes me in the direction of "traditional success" which consists of a job paying big bucks, a shiny new car, big house, two kids, and a dog. The American Dream, for a latina in a migrant family. This is seen as climbing up the ladder, it's a practical, comfortable lifestyle. A wise choice many would say and well within my grasp.
So I guess, after all that backstory, I want to hear what really matters once you've well advanced through life? Do you wish you'd taken the leap, or treasure the security of your life?
I don't know, I'm only 16, so I'd love to hear any advice, or common regrets.
and I hope this doesn't sound like typical teen angst, straight out of Catcher in the Rye:)

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    Jul 13 2013: Re: "Yet my family and culture pushes me in the direction of "traditional success" which consists of a job paying big bucks, a shiny new car, big house, two kids, and a dog. The American Dream, for a latina in a migrant family. This is seen as climbing up the ladder, it's a practical, comfortable lifestyle."

    Oh, no!!! Material possessions enslave us. My advice - do NOT take this course.

    Big house will suck a huge chunk out of your paycheck. It will tie you to the city you live, significantly limiting job opportunities, flexibility, and ultimately, financial security in case you lose a job. It also requires a lot of time and money to maintain - gutters, roof, lawns, fences, plumbing, shmumbing. Only by real estate to produce residual monthly income, not to live in.

    My favorite car is my Honda Accord'96. It has one great unbeatable feature that I cannot get on any other car - 0 monthly payments.

    Two kids. Yes, they are cute. They also will consume, at least, 15 years of your life: feeding, diaper changes, walks, doctor visits, play dates, home work, volunteering, school events, classes, sports practices, hectic morning schedules to catch the school bus at 7am. I only got that far. No idea where to get the money for colleges.

    A dog... Getting up at 6am every day to get it out for a walk. Vaccinations, training, picking up poop, limiting rental opportunities, dealing with neighbor complains about barking. Not unless you LOVE dogs...

    Education and career - yes. I don't advocate nomadic life and dumpster-diving for food. Find out what you love to do early in life and do it. Have a place to live and enough money to pay for it. Travel, get friends. We do need social life, emotional connection with someone. But remember that once you get family, kids, house, cars, and dogs, you will work because you MUST, not because you WANT. Material possessions - no.

    Just sharing some of my experiences
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      Jul 13 2013: Good advise, financial freedom.

      As I stated earlier figure out what your goals are. I doubt they will be things, but for some they are.
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        Jul 13 2013: Pat, financial freedom is not the only consideration. For me, the biggest problem is time. Each thing we own requires time. E.g. shirts need to be washed, dried, pressed, hung in the closet. No big deal, right? What if you have 20 of them? What if you have 3 kids, each of whom have 20 shirts? Just two weeks ago had to take care of a dishwasher leak which damaged hardwood floor in the kitchen. If I rented, I would have just called the landlord. Teenagers have no idea how this stuff can bog down. I dread material possessions not as much because they take money, but mostly because they take my time and, ultimately, life.
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        Jul 14 2013: This is true. With money, one can hire maids to take care of chores, babysitters, educators for kids, landscape maintenance, repair people, personal organizers. But, still, it's very time consuming to deal with all that.
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          Jul 14 2013: look at comparative advantage and how that applies to management of people.
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        Jul 15 2013: Pat, I agree, when we manage other people, we can achieve a lot more than alone. At some point in our life and career, we need to start delegating our stuff - the sooner the better.

        But still, decision making is, perhaps, the most stressful activities (even at the trivial level like, for example, pairing socks and deciding in which kid's drawer they have to go). When you choose between two maids or landscapers, the stress does not go away - it's still decision making. There is a reason why managers are paid more than individual contributors. The fewer decisions we have to make - the happier we are. It's better to manage something that we love - not "stuff" that we got because we follow someone's stereotypes of "good life".
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          Jul 15 2013: To me this sounds like lack of management skills, maybe that is part of the comparative advantage?

          I will give you the last word.
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        Jul 15 2013: Re: "To me this sounds like lack of management skills, maybe that is part of the comparative advantage?"

        Perhaps. This, perhaps, emphasizes the importance of self-analysis to understand what we are good at so that we don't end up doing what we hate or not good at. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent or manage other people.

        I think, as usual, we have come to the circular nature of the problem: we need to do what we are good at and delegate what we are not so good at to others. But if we are not good at delegating - we've got a problem :-)
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        Jul 13 2013: May be, it's just Friday night and I'm tired. Perhaps, I could give an equally eloquent speech on how children are the source of joy and pride, about the importance of having a family, advantages of having physical and emotional support. I could also talk about how all the dating and courting, emotional ups and downs, euphoria followed by a heart break can be nerve wrecking for a single person. Sex is a physiological need, after all. If it's not satisfied regularly, there are emotional and physiological consequences.

        There is a Russian aphorism saying "it's better to go through the way of life than the whole universe". So, the answer is "no". I don't want to trade my life with anyone. "One man's meat is another man's poison". "Jedem das Seine".
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        Jul 15 2013: Keep in mind that when the house is falling down and you are not in a shape to satisfy your wife, chances are you will sleep on a couch and not in the arms of your wife :-)

        You know my love for biblical wisdom. This is said in the Bible twice (Proverbs 21:9 and Proverbs Proverbs 25:24)

        "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." :-)

        Better to be healthy but rich than sick but poor :-) My preference is to sleep with my wife in a luxury hotel. Or, at least, have such opportunity.
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      Jul 13 2013: "My favorite car is my Honda Accord'96. It has one great unbeatable feature that I cannot get on any other car - 0 monthly payments."

      I love those Hondas. I had a 1990 Honda that died about a year ago. Buy a late model for cash on hand & take care of it. That car will never die!
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      Jul 13 2013: Arkaday, this is exactly the life I fear. Marriage is nowhere on the radar...for many, many, many years. Eventually I may change my views but I'm not exactly a dog person:) At least I know that won't change.

      I love reading and writing, always have, always will...but I wonder if pharmacy school wouldn't be the best route to take...financial freedom is valuable. Thanks
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        Jul 13 2013: Re: "Marriage is nowhere on the radar...for many, many, many years."

        Yes. That's what she said :-). Don't make such bets. Let the life take its course. Put your words down and read them five years from now. Just for laughs. My dad said, "don't marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can't live without".

        Just remember that whatever your expectations of life are - the life will be different. My wife wanted a girl. This is why we have 3 boys. Expectations pave the way to disappointment. Enjoy what you have.

        Do what all people do - listen to advice and do your own thing anyway :-).

        Do you love pharmacy? Keep in mind that once you pick a career, it's very difficult to switch to a different one. It's like a train going on a track from the station. One switch in a wrong direction and it's hard to get where you want to be. Don't choose "a thing to do" - choose "the thing to do". It's important to know your own passions. If you don't love your work, you will not succeed in it and it will not bring you financial freedom.

        http://www.twainquotes.com/Work.html
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          Jul 13 2013: "That's what she said"

          I lol'd hard at that.

          But true, such bets are hard to make. Love can be found anywhere and we never know when we will meet that perfect one, tailor made for oneself.

          I believe that we should do something we are passionate about and not what others want. Its our life and making right decisions about jobs is one huge part of it. Also, if we do something we don't love, we will never be able to do well in it, as hard as you try.
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        Jul 23 2013: Love someone for who they are not who they will have to become.

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