THEORY: Dream real, not big.

Finally being in-charge of your life is fun and liberating until one day it isn't. How and when the drastic shift happens is unclear but I just know that one day I woke up thinking "I make my decisions! Help!" from "I make my decisions! Yay!"

When I finally finished school, I had this entire five-year plan scribbled in some imaginary note pad as guide for what my next step in life is. I didn't have to actually write it down because I've been reworking the plan in my head for years that I've got it memorized. I was going to be living on my own, driving a car (doesn't even need to be brand new), working at a nice advertising agency, and going on cool trips time to time.

If you look at where I am now, I've actually achieved all of those things except for the living on my own bit. So I should be happy, right? Wrong. What my five-year plan didn't include was what would happen in the next five years and the five years after that. It also didn't account for taxes and insurance and food and phone bills and all the details that make the five-year plan a reality. I own a car but I struggle to pay for it every month. I don't even bring it all the time because the cost of gas and parking will just eat from what I would use to pay the monthly fee. I go on trips, yes, but I end up poor for the next two months. I get by by packing lunch and stocking on cookies and noodles in the office. I work at an advertising agency and it is fun and exciting and fulfilling but it isn't as fancy as I expected it to be. I don't make as much as I appear to be making. And the work demands more time and energy than I thought it would.

All the decisions I've made so far actually made my five-year plan a reality but it has also left me too poor and frustrated about what to do after the five years are over. I'm a little less than two years away from the end of my plan and I don't know how to move forward. I am afraid to make any more decisions for my own life. Look at where my decisions have taken me? I am even more afraid to make any moves as I can't correct them as easily because I'm running out of time.

What I do at this point in my life will dictate how the next phase will be. I can't dream too big and too short term. I have to dream real and plan for it.I find myself thinking of buying property for a future family, just to be sure I'm covered. I don't want to end up wanting to settle down and panic that we have nowhere to live. I find myself calculating the bills I will have to pay ten years down the line and figuring out how much I need to be making to account for all of it. Because of that, I'm thinking of ways to ensure my pay reaches X amount in X years. I don't want to be struggling month to month with an entire family having to live by noodles and cookies just to make it to the next pay day!

This is all too much and too scary for me. It's also very disappointing that I'm actually in this situation. I thought I had a game plan. I thought I was in control. I thought I was going to do better than the 20-year olds I observed when I was 12 (when I started the first drafts of the five-year plan). I am actually no better. I'm the same broke and struggling and lost person that some 12 year old is observing now. And the unfortunate truth is that in the eyes of the 12 year old, I'm living the dream. No, child. Be better than me. Any fool can dream big but it takes a better person to dream real.

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