The online home for Greg Leedberg, since 1995.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

On Turning 24 and Growing Up

So, today is my birthday, and I turn 24!

For a while, I've been intending on writing an entry on growing up, so this seems as good an opportunity as any.

Generally, when my birthday comes around, I don't feel like I'm any older than I was a year ago. Some things have probably changed in that year, and I probably am a little more mature, but I don't feel like that's the case. When I turned 23 last year, I was in grad school, and my biggest concern in the world was still trying to get assignments done on time and make sure I didn't oversleep in the morning.

Even prior to my birthday today, I feel like I've grown up a lot since I graduated. It's a strange feeling, for sure. I look at my life, and no longer am I studying and learning about how to do something... I'm actually doing it. And I think that's how you know when you're an adult. Not that college is easy or anything. But there's a world of difference when you realize that you're actually doing stuff, forging the way ahead.

And then there's responsibility. In most cases, one doesn't have much responsibility while in college, except for yourself. Suddenly you're being paid money to do something because it needs to be done. It's not a case where if you don't do it or you're late in doing it, you get a bad grade. Suddenly, actions you take can amount to large sums of money being traded -- and you have to work hard they're being traded in the right direction.

And it's not just responsibility with respect to the company you work for. There's responsibility for your family. Even if you don't have a family when you start working, you feel the responsibility on your shoulders for the "ghosts" of your family to come. I don't have a wife or children now, but chances are good that I will at some point in the future. I'm working now to provide a good life for them later. And once you actually have a spouse and children, I'd imagine that the responsibility takes on a whole new dimension.

And with this responsibility, you suddenly are forced to have financial responsibility, which is the primary form in which one can start working for their future family. I never was one to needlessly spend money, but I also didn't have terribly much to manage. All of a sudden I have actual amounts of money, and I need to make sure that those amounts are preserved, grown, and that I have enough money down the line to achieve the things I want. Before getting a job, I really didn't know anything about mutual funds, 401ks, money market funds, inflation, and so on. But now a large percentage of my mental processes are devoted to making sure that my finances beat inflation, that there is enough money to secure the happiness of my family. I'm already starting to save for retirement, a house, and my kids' college education -- even though I have no idea at all when I will actually need the money for those things. Nor do I even know who my kids are!

Well, all I can say is that now I am 24, and for the first time in 24 years, I feel older on my birthday. If you haven't already hit that point, you will too. But, that's not to say that this scares me or that I wish I was back in college. I don't. Now I get up every day and am paid to do something I absolutely love to do. I look forward to have a chance to leave my mark on the world, and to live a happy life with a family -- a life that will be supported by the decisions I make now. I think it's a good thing to feel responsibility, and to feel older, because it means that you have something to look forward to, and a reason to exist.

So have some cake in honor of me. :-)