Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 17, 2013

Email: Re: Age of the Freelancer

When you said “hype fills every other area of life” and a bad life choice can destroy you forever, I’m living proof of that. While I’m not literally ‘destroyed’, I’ve been struggling for the last 20+ years because of bad life choices I made out of high school due to falling for the hype of various trade schools that I chose to go to. Now I’m in my mid-30s with massive student loan debt, living from paycheck to paycheck and I’ve exhausted all of my ability to even get government student loans so I could go to school to pick up anything new and useful, nor can I afford to pay for school out of pocket. I fell for the kool-aid and went to school for computer programming and art and game design, things I could have learned on my own for free or cheap, and now I’m struggling to find something to do other than my day job while trying to make ends meet, such as teach myself to make video games or sell books I’ve drawn or written. I’m not financially destitute–I’m not behind on any bills or anything, but I know I’m going to be repaying the debts for my mistakes for the rest of my life barring some amazing occurrence like making some kind of highly profitable business (and the motivation to actually work hard at it, which is lacking) or winning the lottery (which I don’t play) or something equally amazing.

I say all this to say to any young people just getting out of high school or going to college reading this (if you decide to post this email), be very careful what you decide to do with your life. It’s all too easy to make a knee-jerk decision that can have life-long consequences that will hold you back until the end of time.

You shouldn’t beat yourself up since your situation seems very common. You didn’t mention if you were married or divorced. Student loan debt is fairly common. The true disasters I see are guys who may have even been financially successful be completely destroyed by a divorce. I have to watch what I say around these guys because I sense they are on the verge of blowing their brains out.

I’m curious why you’re not finding something for the computer programming. I’ve consciously got away from the ‘Computer Tech’ sphere and moved more towards electrical trades. I don’t know what is going on currently with the viability of computer programming classes or a Computer Science degree. There just seemed to be too much hype about it that scares me.

If you don’t have kids and aren’t married or attached, you should try to become very mobile. You can move to another area that might offer better opportunities. Although I’m sure you thought that over, I thought I had thought that over until I realized I didn’t have any true way to re-locate to another country. I didn’t have a skill I could sell to another continent. Why would I want to do that? You just want to have more options available even if you don’t take it.

Anyway, please don’t beat yourself up emotionally about it. From what I’m seeing with the overall numbers, your situation is the norm.

I’m discovering the problem with universities is not a new thing. Here is a delightful long essay written by a Frenchman in 1848 complaining that France is being ruined by the university system. Shockingly, some of his quotes can be applied today.


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