Teenagers, Follow Your Dreams!

SarahK posted this comment to the blog post about writing the teenage perspective:

I am seventeen, in High School and am trying to deal with social and family pressures while trying to write my novel. Every person around me tells me that I am too young and that I should wait until I have some "Financial Security."

I wish I had financial security. It would make following my dreams a whole lot easier. I also wish I had continued to write and follow my dreams ever since high school, rather than waiting until my thirties to start trying. I wish I had had more financial sense and understanding. There are so many things I would have started to do ten years ago rather than now when I have 3 children and a house and responsibilities. But I would rather be free to pursue my dreams than to be secure in a dead-end job.

The better path is to follow your dreams and educate yourself on wise money management.

The people preaching "financial security" are both right and wrong all at the same time. The typical path to financial scurity:

  • work hard in high school
  • go to college
  • get a good degree
  • get a high paying job
  • work hard to make someone else rich

Get a job so you can have a high-paying salary, benefits, 401K, and a pension plan. Your employer and the federal government will take care of you. Then you will be secure.

Tell that to the unemployed who've been laid off after slaving away for years for companies who barely paid them enough to feed their families. Tell that to my father-in-law who is dying from asbestos exposure after working in a power plant all his life.

I worked for ten years at a prestigious information technology company for less than standard pay for a software test analyst and then was laid off after training my incompetent replacement. The company would rather have cheap incompetence from India (not all Indians are incompetent, but these ones were) than to pay a fair price for a good product.

So I got my severance package. I was planning to use it to live on while I started my career as a writer. After 10 years of working for them, it should have covered almost six months of salary. But the government took almost 50% and left us with enough to survive for just a few months. We are in the process of losing our house to foreclosure now.

One of my coworkers who was also laid off had only been there a few years, not long enough to keep the company's matching part in his 401K. Because of the downward spiral of the economy, he'd been losing money, and when the company took back their share, they did not prorate for what was lost. They took 100% of their money and left his 401K empty.

And yet it was the people who stayed--the ones that weren't laid off--that I felt sorry for. They now had to depend on incompetent teammates to get the job done or do it all themselves, working longer hours, weekends and evenings. It was those that stayed that were the bitter ones, trying to keep afloat a sinking ship.

So now I can say: Security is a cheap substitute for freedom.

A Better Path
There has to be a better way. In pursuit of finding a better way, I started studying the Rich Dad series. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a book about a man (Robert T. Kiyosaki) whose father was poor but his friend's father was rich. Rich Dad made it through 8th grade and then built a multi-million dollar empire. Poor Dad lived the system I described above and died penniless.

Rich Dad mentored Kiyosaki and helped him to find the path to riches. The books are about the lessons that he learned along the way--the struggles, the failures, the successes, the wisdom, the learning that he gained as he built his own empire, following in the footsteps of his Rich Dad, listening to the wisdom of one who had gone before him.

To end, I want to include this quote from Mark Twain:

What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn't have done it.

Who was it who said, "Blessed is the man who has found his work"? Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind. Mark you, he says his work--not somebody else's work. The work that is really a man's own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man's work and cannot lose it.

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