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Otto Tielemans: Hi, I’m Otto, father of two (credit cards)

Aysen Tan

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Ask anyone, nothing will bring you more joy than becoming a parent for the first time. Unless, of course, you become a parent for the second time. I was lucky enough to experience the joys of parenthood the first month of college. 

 My eldest, Discover Card, was planned. It arrived express mail, covered in a Twitter blue gloss, with a $500 maximum. My second one, Wells Fargo Card, was an accident. Nonetheless, it was a blessing that it came with a $700 credit line. 
 
To bond, I took my children to Whole Foods and bought organic, boutique, “fair trade” ice cream. I took them to an upscale Peruvian restaurant and enjoyed a steak and seafood dinner (three times a week for two weeks). I took them to Nordstrom Rack to buy some shoes, Banana Republic for a coat, and Three Sisters for overpriced soap bars. Shoot, I may have even bought their grandmother, my mother, a toaster. Everything was going great. There was no sorrow, only joy. 
 
Then it happened. My children rejected me. They kicked, they screamed, they refused to give me credit. 
 
Me. A devout Republican, fiscal conservative, Milton Freedman lover, anti-debt advocate fell for the credit card illusion. I remember calling my father and saying, “What do Greece and I have in common? We both need a bailout!”
 
I shouldn’t have given birth to these cards, but it happened. I didn’t use my judgment, I let go of my morals, and I lost track of reality which probably explains why I am currently having to face the austerity measures imposed by my parents. 
 
If you haven’t noticed yet, this story isn’t entirely based on my excessive, bourgeois lifestyle. It adheres to a bigger message, which is that college is in large part an illusion. 
 
You have an idea of what it will be and you dream about it religiously. Then, when you show up, you realize that it is much harder than you imagined. If you are me, you will constantly ask yourself if it is still too late to drop out and become a gypsie somewhere in Europe. You will feel as if you are trying to rebuild your life on shifting ground, as if you don’t have control of anything
 
But the world moves on. Life continues. And, like this behemoth of a debt, the problems will eventually disappear and better judgments will be made in the future. So to all of you who feel as if you can’t take it any longer (high school and college students alike), hold on. Better days are coming.
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