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American Dreams

Updated: May 1, 2019

I may be broke, trying to pay of every penny of student loan debt but with the said, I've been working on big things, awesome, life-long projects, the kind that keep me awake at night dreaming.
Layla & I, Acadia National Park, October 2019

I turned 32, last Wednesday, April 10th. 32. To be 32 in America, these days. Are we Millenials are we GenX'ers. Who cares, right? All I know is my generation has generally received the short end of the stick, over and over and over. My generation is, if nothing else, resilient. I'm reminded of this every birthday. The day I also choose to do my taxes. Ugh. Why you ask would I chose to do my taxes on my birthday? Well, for one Jake, my loving partner, pays for them. It's my birthday present every year. Romantic right? We're practical people and usually, around this time I've worked poverty wages since September and my bank account looks pitiful and I know I'll be paying in, not receiving. I appreciate my gift more than any piece of jewelry. It's also an excuse to go the mainland (remember, Island dweller over here), eat at a restaurant, drink local craft beer, and hit up the good ole' Goodwill. I love nothing more than the thrill of the find. So, that's why I schedule them on my birthday. There is so much good in my day and amidst so much shit I like to find the balance and work through the bullshit.

This specific tax season, I felt good going into the day and I felt even better leaving it. This tax year was horrendous. It's the only way to say it. I work for myself half the time, other times, three jobs all part-time, and I used an Americorp Education Award this year. "Dumb choice, Samantha- I tell myself later. Was it really worth paying off that student loan to be taxed at 12% (of $8,900...ouch)." This is our government at its finest. I became a public servant for two years, got paid poverty wages while being expected to do senior level work, and receive a sizable education award that- here's the kicker- is taxed as income, even though I can only use it for educational purposes such as paying off a FEDERAL (not private) student loan or continued learning at an accredited institution. I chose to pay off my student loan, so I never saw this money. It went from one account to the next and *poof* there goes over $10,000 of my income? So needless to say, a poor teacher, EMR, nonprofit bookkeeper that just magically makes that kind of money appear in a year can really alter the way taxes look. Long story, short- I got taxed for money given to me by my government twice. *eyeroll* In my paycheck and upon receipt of the award. This is only a a few years after I had since figured out how to navigate my taxes post graduate school; upon which I worked as a graduate research assistant and had my university tuition paid for. It was a stipend, but it was income, and it was taxable, but it was from the state... yuck. Taxes don't favor the poor, educated, single, and motherless and this year was no different. But that's taxes, they suck, and there's more to life than your wealth.

I'm starting 32 with a big ole' middle finger to the big guy. My taxes were terrible but that is the smallest part of my life. I may be broke, trying to pay of every penny of student loan debt but with the said, I've been working on big things, awesome, life-long projects, the kind that keep me awake at night dreaming. The kind of projects that will hopefully make me less broke.

I'm 55% done with building a dream home with my dream boyfriend on my dream island. Our house is a vision we've built together. I dream we both share and that is most special. I've spent the last 4 years peeing outside and getting my water from a hose in our utility room. This year we'll have a working toilet and a sink that works (only cold though). We make progress every day. Our list is long but our vision is persistent as we both in our ways through our 10 year plan.

My family is also stronger than ever. Two of my three sisters are engaged to be married over the next year and the other is recently in love. My parents are healthy and still together and my two dogs have a lot of dog left in the fight.

I have a solid group of girlfriends, of which I have been assembling for the past 10 years. They're rockstars. The work they do, the hobbies they possess, and the passion they have for life is boundless. These are the people who get me. The smart, funny, nature nerd Sam and the reckless, lose her teeth Sam. I love them and at 32, their friendship is everything.

I look forward to saying good-bye to my 20's. Having lived through them, I welcome my 30's. There's more to life than death and taxes. There's growing old with friendship, family, and lovers, surrounded by the things you cherish in the places you never want to leave. I'm older, wiser, and embracing my 30's. I know who I am now; and it took me my 20's to know that life is like a good bottle of wine, it gets better with age.

So, I say to all you newbie 30-year olds, accept being poor, pay your bills on time, travel as far as you can go, experience life with your friends and lovers, never stop taking risks, and follow the goals you dreamed up in your 20's. Life is too short to worry about money or what you don't have. Focus on what you DO HAVE.

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