John Cheese, a writer at Cracked (yes, Cracked), posted a beautiful, tough-minded essay to their website today that was inspired by the It Gets Better Project. From reason #5: The Money Situation Will Improve (Even If It Doesn't):
As a kid, you just have to sit back and take it, not fully understanding why you're living the way you are. You're dependent on your parents' decisions and actions, whether they lead to bankruptcy or a new swimming pool. A lot of that pressure you're feeling in your teens and 20s is really just powerlessness. You feel like instead of driving the car, you're tied up in the trunk. When you get out on your own, your financial future is yours, and you can steer that bastard where you want it to go. It's not easy, but even when it's hard there is something liberating about the fact that even if you crash our proverbial car through the front window of a liquor store, it was your decision.
And just to make sure you didn't skip over the "it's not easy" part: If you think "it gets better" means you can sit back and wait for a naked genie to fart cash into your living room, it will not. "It gets better" doesn't mean life lets up, it means you no longer have to submit to it. Not like when you're a kid, when your parents can divorce without your consent or make you change schools or make you get a stupid haircut. When you're an adult, you can get pissed and swing back.
Please, don't wait as long as I did to learn that lesson. My entire adolescent life was spent in poverty because my parents gave up and just accepted that life was a spiked enema, and they just had to bend over and take it. They made no effort to improve their situation, and so that's the lesson my siblings and I took with us when we got out on our own. "There is no escaping your financial fate." I didn't push back until I was forced to. After 14 years of working an incredibly insufficient, shitty job, my back finally said, "Fuck this," and I was physically unable to do it anymore. I had nothing to go to. No backup plan. No savings. No family to turn to. And then I realized that I did in fact have skills that people would pay me to perform.
When I wasn't writing, I was putting in applications all over town. In the next town. In towns 30 minutes away. I applied to places online. When there was no gas in the truck, I walked to put in more applications. I swung harder. There are some days that I write for 16 straight hours, knowing that everything I just typed will be deleted and replaced with a completely different idea, or rejected outright. And that's OK because the success or failure is mine, not somebody else's. You can't put a price on that.
The whole piece is beautiful and inspiring and hilarious and it manages to scrape away a lot of the feel-goody/do-goody cheap sentiment that has congealed around the IGBP. Go read it. I wish we could've included it in the It Gets Better book.