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Sunday, March 1, 2009

What will we take away from this Financial Crises?

“Is broke the new black?”
Shiva Kunz

It’s not just that so many of us are wearing it that is relevant, it’s how we wear it. This will come to define us, both as individuals and as an era.

Will we lose ourselves in frustration and anger, spending our mental capitol on an endless debate on how things went wrong and deciding where to place blame? Or will we, admittedly with nostalgia and trepidation, begin to accept this transition and embrace it as an opportunity to perhaps reevaluate and redefine our priorities, goals and life direction. How many of us have gone through life on auto pilot, following the rules, living within the compounds of the “givens” we had come to expect and were expected of us, in exchange for the promise of “the good life”.

For many high school students college was “given”, the vast number of higher educations institutions and the growing availability of scholarships and loans has had college enrollments climbing year by year. This too has changed, as colleges endowments have suffered great losses many schools are shrinking the size of their incoming freshman classes and allocating more funds to students already enrolled, this coupled with the fact that many private college funders are no longer in business has taken the “given” of college away for many students.

Those recent graduates, where are they? They followed our path, excelled at our requirements and now stand ready with their new black suits and polished resumes in hand, waiting for life to begin. It was “given” that they would be fielding offers from companies, corporations and firms enticing them with promises of advancement and stock options. Only now they find darkened buildings with padlocks on what they thought would be their futures.

How about those that had long ago bought and paid for the dream, those that had long since silenced the rebellious rumblings and creative yearnings in exchange for the promise of “the good life“, they too have been discarded and padlocked out.

What now…where do we go from here? Is there no hope for that bight and shiny future we have been schooled to believe is the path to happiness? Did that path guarantee happiness? Were those growing numbers of college enrolment due to the drive and enlightenment of students in their quest for more knowledge, or was it that we, society had laid it out as the only way to ensure your ticket to the “good life”. Did we sell education primarily as a means to an end…‘you need it to get a great job”? Where our eager young graduates seeking entry into the corporate world because they were pursuing their passion or were they merely continuing to accept the “givens”…that upon graduation they would be offered and accept a position that would demand an abundance of their time, energy and skill but in return would guarantee their upward mobility? What about those that were midstream in their careers, those that have adapted their lifestyle to match their status, as their salaries have grown, so has their debt.

So many of us bought it, we accepted the blueprint and began at an early age to build the framework for what was promised to bring us satisfaction, security and happiness and enable us to do the same for our future generations. Unfortunately, for many of us by the time we paused to access if in fact this design was best suited for our personal needs and wants we were too far along in construction to make any meaningful alterations, and the thought of a teardown and rebuild was far too overwhelming. So we continue to roll along adapting and excepting life as it unfolds

Until now…this current financial crisis has cracked the foundation on which we have built our lives, leaving us in a state of uncertainty, the very thing that we have been programmed to evade. However if we embrace this opportunity to not just think outside the box, but actually redefine the box…or better yet abandon the box theory, we will have an opportunity to create the structure best suited to our personal needs. Like all situations, we individually and collectively, have a choice on how we will react to this situation. Will we be driven by fear and panic to just rush in and try to repair the current systems? Or will we see this as the great opportunity to take stock, to look at it with clarity and vision to systematically what was working and what wasn’t.

Let us dig deep inside of ourselves, ignite our inner strengths and passions and begin to redesign and build our lives as we choose. Scary...yes, this demands a complete paradigm shift in our thinking. In order to stay in step and follow the ordained path we have been taught to accept rather that to question and we have allowed fear to dictate our actions. Now it is time to rise above our fear and to question all, to question society, to question government but most importantly…to question ourselves. To question our actions, our reactions, our wants our needs…to self indulge in the quest for self discovery. It is time to take chances, to let our creative juices flow…to challenge the status quo. It is time as a society that we embrace the dreamers amongst us, that we teach our children to be thinkers not just depositories of knowledge.

To the students that will not be starting school in September, and the recent grads that are unable to secure the positions you had hoped to, as disappointing as this is, know that hope is far from lost. Things may not be happening just as you had planned and prepared, but life has some wonderful things in store for you. Take this time to try something you never thought you would, there are millions of programs all over the world as well in most communities that will offer different experiences and exposure to worlds quite different from your own. Open your self up, self teach, explore your self…your likes and dislikes, talk to people that you would never think you would have anything in common with…think…question…create… try new things…trust your self… this is your time, make it count. Realize that you have control of your destiny, make the decisions that you believe are right for you, and if they turn out to be wrong decisions, that’s part of the discovery. Learning what is not right for you is as important as learning what is right…have faith in yourselves. Enjoy!

To those of us caught midstream, with the survival of life as we have known it and as we have worked diligently to create, is severely threatened…it is an opportunity for us as well to redefine our priorities. To step back and evaluate, we have created this abundant life but at what cost? Have we traded years of our precious time…time that could have been spent with love ones or pursuing our passions in exchange for possessions? For many the cost was well deserved, to others perhaps not, there is no right or wrong answer here, just a reminder to look deep and as we move forward do so with a clear vision of where we came from.

Although we didn’t choose for this financial tsunami to hit, we must remember that we can choose how we wish to deal with it, and like all storms this too will pass.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a pretentious windbag. Someone was definitely trying to get the valedictorian speech she wasn't able to deliver out of her system. No, broke isn't the 'new black' and the title reference indicates that the author who is concerned with the trappings of style and ultimately a hollow and shallow individual. Crap post.

teacher said...

Oh wow--that's so mean. Really, not at all constructive, and I think, inaccurate. Maybe referring to broke as the 'new black' was meant to emphasize that the social codes to which we have grown accustomed have been thrown into question; that the financial crisis has revealed massive flaws in their integrity.

I didn't expect to engage with another comment--it just took me by surprise. I wanted to thank the blogger for her support. I finished university in 2008 and by last spring I felt worse than useless--I felt I was a burden on society. I know many of my peers felt the same--over-educated and under skilled. I watched many of them panic and try to force themselves into dying professions and endured a bit of criticism from my extended family for not doing the same. But, with the love and support of my parents, who share your philosophy exactly, I was able to explore myself. I realized that what I wanted was to figure out where I am needed. It wasn't easy, but with patience and faith, I have. I have found a true vocation teaching school in Costa Rica. It is challenging, and stressful, and sometimes I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew, but I wake up every day knowing as deeply as one can know something that I'm doing the right thing. Because of this, I'm free--life can do with me what she pleases--because my peace and happiness come from an unshakable faith that I have something to give. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to find this. If it weren't for the financial crisis, and for support of people like you, I'm not sure if I would have. So thank you, thank you, thank you!!