It’s Tuesday, and it’s time for me to solve all the world’s problems with the anonymous mailbag. As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed.
I’m presently on the road for the next couple of days meeting with potential OutKick advertisers, but have no fears, I’m still here cranking away in my hotel room with the anonymous mailbag in the pre-dawn hours. Your problems never sleep, nor do I.
Okay, here we go:
“I’m in a relationship with a girlfriend who is a great person, but someone that I do not want to marry. I’m early 40’s, never married, no kids, above average in looks, and have a stable job/income. I am worried that I may be aged out from the prime aged girls (e.g. 25-30), and that finding an amazing girl in her mid-30’s would be like finding a diamond in the rough. I’m also looking for a girl who is conservative, and let’s be honest – attractive conservative girls usually get scooped up early. My question is should I settle for someone who is good, but knowing that I settled, or do I take my chances out in the dating world again, recognizing the challenges mentioned?”
If you’re in your early forties and you’re dating a girl you don’t want to marry, you should break up with her. That’s provided, of course, that you do want to get married one day, which I think could be uncertain your case.
But presuming you do want to get married — and the girl you’re dating wants to get married too — why would you waste her time and why would you waste your time too? As soon as you know a girl isn’t the one for you, especially at your age, you should move on. (Again, this is presuming marriage is the goal. If neither of you are interested in getting married and you just enjoy each other’s company, then that’s no big deal, but you’re expressly saying you want to get married in your email.)
Furthermore, if you’re a guy in your early forties and you’ve never gotten married, it’s likely that the problem isn’t the girls you’ve been dating. It’s you. I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, just that I find it highly unlikely that an attractive guy with a good job has managed to make it to his early forties and still be single without some major relationship issues of his own.
I’m not sure what those issues are. Maybe you’re incredibly commitment phobic, maybe you work so much you haven’t been able to give the time necessary to a relationship, maybe you’re kind of a selfish jerk, maybe you like jumping from one option to another at the first sign of conflict. I don’t know exactly what your relationship issues are, but I think it’s far more likely to be a you issue than it is to be a girl issue.
In general, if the same thing keeps happening to you, no matter what it is, rather than blame external factors for those occurrences, I’d suggest considering you might be the root cause of the issues at play.
Taking this out of relationships, for instance, if you’ve had five straight roommates and you ended up thinking all your roommates were jerks, maybe the five roommates weren’t the issue, maybe it was you?
The same thing is likely true here: according to your email you’re successful, good looking, and still single in your forties. I’d wager the girls you’ve dated aren’t the reason why that is.
Figure yourself out — and what you want from life — before you try and figure someone else out.
Because until you do that, you’re unlikely to find a healthy relationship.
“My daughter is a rising junior in high school and has started to think about college and what she wants to study. She is a strong student, especially in analytical areas and writing. With those strengths, she is considering studying law, but is questioning the wisdom of that career path since she knows that once she has children she wants to stay home with them, with the possibility of working from home once they are in school. She would probably never pursue a traditional law career-working at a firm, trying to make partner, etc. You have said before that a law degree can be a great tool in building other careers. In your opinion, do you think that the time and money a law degree requires would be worth it for someone with her life plan? What type of careers do you think she could pursue where a law degree would be useful?”
This is a tough question to answer with certainty because a 16- or 17-year-old’s idea of what he or she wants out of life can change a million times between 16 and 25, which is the earliest your daughter could graduate from law school.
But here is my take on the question, presuming that your daughter will have the same life goals by the time she graduates from college in five years or so:
First, your daughter might not meet the man she wants to marry for a long time. Sure, she could be married at 25 and having her first baby at 27, but most of my law school classmates didn’t have children until after they were thirty years old. Given that people keep getting married and having kids later, basing your future on your daughter’s plan, especially when it undercuts your potential career advancement, is a poor choice in my opinion.
What if she loves her job and doesn’t want a kid until she’s well into her thirties? I don’t think you can enter any job knowing how you want to exit it beforehand at a definite year. I think you need to have an open mind and allow your life to play out.
Plus, not to terrify her, but what if she never meets a guy she wants to marry? What if she finds fulfillment in work instead of in motherhood? Life can go in many unexpected directions. I think investing in your own education is almost always a good way to spend your time, even if it doesn’t dovetail perfectly with the direction you expect your life to go.
Second, the education you get in law school is invaluable, and you’ll have the degree for the rest of your life. Let’s say your daughter does get married and have kids early, well, eventually those kids are going to be in school all day. She might find herself at 35 or 36 with all of her kids in school during the day. Then she’s suddenly got a ton of time to fill and could return to the full-time, or part-time practice of law. In other words, as kids age, they take up less of your time during the day. Even if she wants to raise her own kids and even if she does it on the schedule she expects, those kids will be in school one day and she’ll be in the house by herself. Plus, as those kids age, they will have less need for your daughter’s daily attention. She might have her entire forties and fifties available to practice law, if she has kids young. If she’s already got the degree, then she’s in a good place to be able to do that work.
Third, if you think you might not practice in a big firm for a long time, I’d consider financial flexibility in terms of which law school she picks. You can pick a public university law school that doesn’t cost as much and still find yourself in the running for any top job you want without the stress of taking out law school loans for several hundred thousand dollars. (To be fair, you would have to finish at the top of your class to have access to top jobs, which can be stressful. As a general rule, the better the law school you attend, the easier it is to find a high paying job. So you need to factor that in as well.) Many young lawyers graduate and take big firm jobs they hate because they owe so much in student loans they can’t afford to take lower paying jobs. If your daughter wants to maintain financial flexibility when it comes to pursuing legal jobs, then attending a lower cost law school might make some sense for her.
Fourth, I met my wife in law school. So do many other law students. But at a minimum, your daughter is likely to make friends for life in law school. My best friends now are almost all law school classmates. Any time I have a tough decision to make and need a good resource, that’s who I call. I don’t know how you put a worth on that, but the people I met in law school are the best part of law school.
Remember, I met my wife in law school and now we have three awesome kids. It’s honestly impossible for me to even put a value on my boys and her, they’re everything to me. I can’t even explain to you how valuable and amazing it is to have a super smart partner who can analyze complex issues and help you make good decisions in your life. My wife is brilliant. Could I have ended up with a wife just as smart elsewhere if I hadn’t gone to a top law school? Maybe. But I’d hate to risk it.
I’m at the spot in my life now where I wouldn’t want to go back in time because I’d be afraid of screwing things up. That’s a good spot to find yourself. I wouldn’t change anything in my life right now.
Ultimately, law school was invaluable to me, not just for the education that I received, but for the people I spent three years with. Law school is like intellectual boot camp. You get to see people at their best and worst during your years together, and you all grow as individuals. After school, you will make many friends, but the friends you make before you begin your professional and work life, at least to me, always seem more pure and honest. You can trust them in a way you can’t trust later friends because there’s no preexisting business or social relationship. Your school friends probably know you in a way your work friends never will.
Finally, I’d just hate to see anyone not extend their education as far as they possibly can because they are preparing for a future life that may or may not arise. I’d be ecstatic if all three of my boys ended up going to law school, even if none of them ended up practicing law for very long in their future careers. Your daughter may not practice law for very long, but she’ll never forget the education she receives there.
Who knows? Maybe one day she’ll be the brilliant legal scholar answering anonymous mailbag questions from her hotel room in the pre-dawn hours. Then will that degree ever seem worth it!
In all seriousness, I’d tell her to go to law school.
“Clay, I recently went for a job interview that would effectively double my income, maybe more with bonuses. I had a problem going into it though. I had a ton of Mexican food the night before for Cinco de Mayo. After briefly meeting the general manager, I sat down in the waiting area and felt my lower stomach boiling with anger. I then had the urge to let out what I thought was a silent but deadly gas attack. Unfortunately for me, it turned into a small squirt of diarrhea down my right leg. As I turned to rush to the restroom, I hear, ‘Ok we’re ready for you?’
How should I have played it?”
First, this is a positive sign that we might be moving on from COVID since we’re getting poop stories in the anonymous mailbag again.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is a worst nightmare job interview situation.
Back when I was in college, I went for a job interview and got super sick on my way to the interview. I was in Washington, D.C. at the time and while on the way to the interview, I had a 24 hour bug come over me. While I was waiting for the Metro, I had to throw up in a trash can. Then when I got to the interview, as I was sitting in the waiting room, I suddenly had to puke so I rushed out to the bathroom, sprinted into a stall, dropped to my knees, and immediately threw up. Then while I was throwing up, I suddenly realized I was about to poop myself, so I swung around as fast as I could and collapsed on the toilet too.
But I was already at the interview and I didn’t want to cancel, so I went back out, nailed the interview, and then as soon as I left the interview, I threw up again in the subway. (I got the job offer, by the way).
So I’ve been there, done that. Even worse than what you were dealing with, honestly.
The first question you have to answer here is this: are you in danger of more eruptions? Because the last thing you want to do is poop yourself in the middle of an in-person office interview. If that happens, I think you have to bail on the interview and never return again to that office again because there is no way you are ever getting hired there for the rest of your life.
So the first thing you have to do is assess your body control.
Assuming you can handle yourself, then the next step is to figure out who has come out to get you for the interview. Is it the interviewee or an assistant? If it’s the assistant, you can ask to go to the bathroom really quick. (Let’s hope it’s not some locked bathroom down the hall which adds complexity to the entire mess.)
If the person who is interviewing you is coming out to get you, then you may have to go with him or her and risk everything. (After all, do you want the first thing you say at a job interview to be, “Sorry, can I run to the bathroom really fast?”) But if it’s someone else, you make a quick run to the bathroom and clean yourself as best you can.
Once inside the bathroom, make sure you’ve evacuated the bowels to erase any doubt of a new problem. Then I’d advise bailing on the underwear, using them as a default cleaning rag, and then tossing them in the trash can. Then I’d abandon all the under clothes you can as a cleaning option too. Your socks, your under shirt, anything extraneous to your interview outfit. (Clean in the stall, not in front of the mirror like a mad man because the last thing you want to do is advertise your disastrous situation to someone else at the company).
Clean out the inside of your pants as best you can and then survey yourself in the mirror as you stride out for the interview to hope your poop disaster isn’t visible.
I think that’s your only play.
(Our interviewee is still awaiting news on whether he got the job or not. I’ll update you when he knows for sure.)
“Huge fan of yours! I’m originally from PA, but I’m living in Portland, OR while attending graduate school here. I hope to leave as soon as I graduate next year assuming I can get a job somewhere else. My friends and family around the country are enjoying going out, no more mask mandates, and walking around outside alone without their masks on. They were shocked to hear that this past Friday Oregon went back into lockdown. No more eating inside at restaurants and really just no more fun in general. It sucks to see people in service industries that were just able to get back to work sent home because Commie Kate wanted to shut everything down again. Was curious what your thoughts were on this, and how do I tell my liberal, vaccine-obsessed classmates that this is ridiculous? Do you think cities like Portland will ever recover from this? The industry I want to go into has almost 1,000 companies based in Portland and I could probably stay here if I wanted to. I would give it a chance if things got better but it is hard to see other cities thriving because these lockdowns do not work. Would love to hear your thoughts on if cities like this one will still be standing once this is all over.”
For the first time in 170 years, California lost population last year. That is, since California was founded as a state in 1850, every census has shown more people living in the state — until the one just completed. And I think that’s going to continue in the decades ahead too.
Because COVID probably pushed us a decade into the future. With remote work, family challenges, travel and commute patterns, you name it, I think many people took the past year to assess where their life is and where they want their life to be. And I think in the early 2020s, you will see people moving in massive rates like never before.
And I think what you’ll see, in general, is people abandoning the New Yorks, Illinois and Californias of the world in favor of the South and the middle part of the country.
So I think what you and many other people all over the country living in cities like Portland are going to have to decide is what kind of city and state do I want to live in going forward? I can’t answer that for you, but personally, I don’t think I’ll ever leave Tennessee for the rest of my life.
Because COVID has solidified that if I were living in California or New York, I would have gone insane with all these lockdowns. And it’s not just the state I’m living in either because cities made decisions about how to deal with COVID too. I don’t think I’ll ever live in Nashville’s Davidson County again after the way the city handled COVID.
I live in Williamson County, just south of Nashville, and my kids will finish a full year’s worth of school next week. I’m incredibly proud that my county’s teachers and school administrators were able to complete a full year of in-person learning for all kids K-12, beginning in August and running all the way up until next week without a single major health issue. I’m so proud of that decision that I really do think I’ll stay in this county for the rest of my life.
I think many people are making decisions both pro and con now that the COVID fear porn finally recedes. And I suspect we’ll see many people moving in many different directions. But I think the biggest beneficiaries will be the low tax red states in the South, places like Texas, Tennessee, Florida. I think the population will surge in all of these states, and I think it will be mostly red state people moving there. As I said above, my prediction is that the next decade will make the red states redder and the blue states bluer.
As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to email@example.com, anonymity guaranteed.
And thanks for your support of Outkick. Hope y’all have great Tuesdays.