I already know what you’re thinking. “Here’s yet another millennial blaming the previous generation for all of his/her problems.” Well good sir or madame, you are correct, however it’s much, much more complicated than that.
As you may or may not know, every single millennial goes through what I like to call “the crisis.” It’s when all of your preconceived notions of the universe and your existence go up against reality and boy is it ugly. It generally results in the “what now?” after university. The “I need to go to Europe and bang a few hot guys or girls syndrome.” Or the infamous “I need to find myself.”
I say this of course, because we are lost. Somehow, someway we lost ourselves to this world where we are relentlessly corralled down the “right path.” You need a good education to get a good job, to save up one day and get a great house, find yourself a spouse, settle down, have some children, plan for retirement while you’re at it and boy don’t forget life insurance.
Fast forward to when you get your first real job, you know, the one you got with your professional email address where you suited up and really cared. For a moment you are pretty content, you finally have enough money to pay your education loan (which is huge by the way) but then, something ominous happens. You realise something is missing–you hate this job, and even worse you hate your boss because despite what they say this isn’t what you really wanted to do and you never figured out what that was. But you’re here now, in this place of vulnerability and you might even feel stuck, one foot in — to pay and afford life in general — and the other — holding on to your dreams and the things they told you to stay away from. So yeah maybe the term “messed up.” Is a bit too strong, but how else would you describe our generation? We are a bunch of tragic souls trying to find our way, twerking, grinding and flexing for jesus in the gym as we capture our selfies. Somewhere along the line it all went wrong, so I am going to do my best to explain how it happened, and how things can get better.
The old paradigm
Our parents hail from a time where if you put in the effort you could get a great job and make enough money to “live the dream.” A dream that was sold to them well. A dream sold so well that clearly a used car salesman (or Morgan freeman) was pitching this stuff because everyone was eating it up…and then of course, they tried to live it. So they worked hard, quite possibly at a job they hated and slowly but surely the things they were passionate about faded to black. But at least they had financial security right? As time went on they had children and locked themselves in for the grand 18 year investment that was supposed to yield high interest. (But let’s be honest, we didn’t.)
They were smart, they knew that if they could achieve such heights without education, that with this trajectory their children could rule the world. Universities followed suit and racked up prices, bachelor degrees started selling like gold. So much so, that even mediocre jobs began using bachelor degrees as a measuring stick. Soon enough University was passing these things out like they were hot cakes. “You get a degree, you get a degree, and you…you over there in the baseball cap, you get a degree.” These days the tart parchment will cost you upwards of 100,000 – all for a piece of paper that guarantees absolutely nothing, not a job, a career, least of all happiness. Yet we willingly spend our lives away for it and parents allow their children to go into debt for it, all so that they can say they did it, because lord knows it means nothing.
Nonetheless, your parents put you into a competitive high school, in hopes of getting you into a great university, because that way you could get an even better job than them and ultimately be financially stable, because–they love you of course.
Here’s where the problem merely begins, money. It’s always about money, and unfortunately with the society we live in, we actually need the damn stuff to survive. It is literally and figuratively the root of all evil. Every move we make in life then becomes a derivative of chasing money (which is wrong), so we chase the best schools, get the best jobs, so we can make the most money and then be miserable for the rest of our lives while we make a butt-load of money. Sounds fantastic right?
I know, it sounds like a plot of a dystopian sci-fi movie, maybe I’ll write that later, but right now let’s stick to the topic at hand. Everyone that I have ever known has gone through this, it normally occurs in your last year of university and has forced many a student to take the heralded “victory lap.” It’s the “what now, what happens next?” University is an interesting time, generally you are at your most philosophical, willing to try anything self, and with all the deep meaningful conversations you will have at some point the question comes up “what is your plan?” Some people have a plan, most just have a vague outline, the one set out for them in the first place. And once you realise you have no idea what you want, no idea where all of this is leading, you freak out. As I said before this normally occurs in the last year of university, sometimes the next year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen later.
This is a rough time, you will question your entire journey up until this very moment. Break yourself down but I like to think that when you arise, you evolve into a beautiful butterfly unburdened and disillusioned from the path. Now you can see through all the muck and turbid waters and all of the nonsense that society has planned for you and you promptly plan on a mass exodus of planet earth.
You’re the best around…..
As I mentioned before, your parents witnessed opportunity, they assumed (quite wrongly) that you would not only supersede them, that you would basically become a god on earth, so from young, they instilled this belief that everything will come, (and I am heavily paraphrasing here) pretty easy, go to school get straight A’s rinse repeat and success is yours. But in reality, life is so much more of a grind than that. But when you absorb these absurd thoughts of absolution it only sets you up for disappointment later on in life when adversity undoubtedly hits you. Because remember, you are not the only one who has been taught that you are “special,” so now everyone thinks they are better than everyone else, but the truth is somewhere in the middle, a lot of people are average and then there is me. Very straightforward. But ignorance is bliss right? Because as time goes on and you experience the world, you will meet truly remarkable people, those who are just plain better than you are. You see that extremely good-looking football player that is sculpted like Thor in the gym? Well he is actually hovering at a 4.0 GPA and is studying to be a clinical therapist in a few years. I know, it sucks but thems the breaks. It doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve what you want in life, but it does mean that you might have to work harder than previously thought. Take it from me as a black, short, T-rex of a man who needs his wife to reach the top shelf. #stepladderlife
Turns out, it’s actually not that easy to get a job
If, you’re like me, educated, self-proclaimed genius, philosopher and purveyor of the almighty bat cave, you know that the search for the often allusive job, is exceptionally difficult. You have sent countless resumes, researched job titles that match your qualifications to a tee, in fact you have done this for so long, you have begun to doubt how intelligent you are and how good-looking. (Oh that’s just me?) For each resume sent down the ether costs you a fragment of your soul because it plants that seed of negativity, leading you to think. “Am I not good enough?” Now, finding a job is important, sure, but it is not the be all end all of our existence, in fact “having a difficult time finding a job, could be a blessing” another time another blog. But right now it’s just getting in the way of paying your bills. That’s right, bills that have amalgamated from the unseemly important education that you just had to pursue, because again, your parents love you.
So what do you do? Some people strip, others become prostitutes, unfortunately I am neither beautiful or a woman, so my only option was living with my parents. Ding, Ding, Ding. Winner winner chicken dinner. I’m sure that was your option too right?
Don’t fret, eventually that job will find you, and then you too can hate working for another mindless corporation who treats you like a number.
So you have a job, but you actually hate it
After sitting in your parent’s basement apartment for roughly six months to a year (don’t worry I get all my numbers from the internet, because…science) you score a totally great job, it pays well, it has a hot receptionist and you don’t hate it….yet. Congratulations!
Fast-forward a year, maybe two, maybe three and you have begun to realise you have made a grave mistake, you hate your job, you hate your coworkers, but you can’t leave because it’s hard to find a job and you have to pay your loans (that are still huge by the way) so guess what buttercup? You’re stuck.
But there’s this nagging voice in your head telling you its ok, that its normal to struggle, that in fact that is just how humanity has done it for years and that anything else other than the mindless struggle is against the curb, and this is the biggest misnomer in the history of the world. We do not have to struggle, we can do what we want and pursue our passions, but the world drags us down and forces us into a box where we have to play by their rules. Find a way to play by yours!
In case you can’t add
So if you’re keeping count, by now you have gone to an obscenely expensive university for a meaningless piece of paper and the “experience”, you’re up to your eyeballs in debt and you need a job in order to pay the loan back, but you hate your job because your degree inevitably pushed you into a field of work you realize wasn’t the bees knees, however you need that job to maintain your lifestyle. (But you’re a confident strong woman), and now you have found the love of your life, you want children who knows maybe you want a house, remember it is all a part of the dream. But because of your debt you can’t afford a house, in fact taking care of another life, seems light-years away, so what do you do? What every other millennial does in your position, you stress out, complain to people, and best of all, post questionable pictures on Facebook, you know, the usual.
Right now, you are on the wrong side of 20 (right that’s just me) and you have no idea what you are doing, because you never really had the chance, you were always following the path laid out for you and never discovered your own. So to all those out there who are stressed and feel anxious all the time, I have the cure (another blog another time) Find out what you are truly passionate about and chase that endlessly.
Following the path like Neo
Everything in our lives is carefully planned. We are taught from a young age what types of goals are paramount in society and who we should aspire to be. In this way we have immeasurable stress that is put upon us because the world is preparing us for death. Yep, you heard me correctly, we start off in preschool, to prepare for primary (or elementary school), which readies you for high school or boarding school, which then prepares you for University. University enables you (as long as you have a stout GPA) to gain an internship which prepares you for a future job. That job pays your bills, and allows you to live and hopefully save. Save for a house, for your family, and ultimately for retirement. As long as you have maintained your insurance payments your family will then be granted with a boon of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Congratulations, now you are dead and they played you.
When did you have a chance to live? When did you have a moment to follow your passions? We are always so busy planning for the future, but what if there wasn’t a future to plan for? You would have to live in the moment.
I know, I know the future is stressful, but guess who gets to worry about the future, future you. Right now you get to enjoy your life and do the things you really love so that when you do get hit by a truck at least you know that you lived happily.
Kill your darlings
Sure our parents messed up, but they did it because they loved us, they simply followed the status quo and we can’t really blame them for that. We can blame society however forcing the narrative through subliminal messaging and however these things tend to happen. I cannot tell you how University went from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands, the average pay hasn’t increased nearly as much. Houses are evaluated higher than ever and we have started adulthood with the most debt of all time.
Now that things have become very clear to us, we have a chance to effect the next generation, to foster their growth, not to guide them in the direction we think is best. Support their passions, no matter how strange or creepy it is, unless it’s killing animals, in which case, you might have to take them to a therapist…to uh….nip that in the bud.
Right now I battle with myself every single day because I know what I want to do in my life, but I struggle to do it. (Namely being a successful writer) My parents sent me to university to get a business degree and make money (hopefully) as an accountant. But I knew from a young age that I loved writing, I could have gotten a literary degree and at the very least been a journalist. I would have gladly taken that over the countless banking jobs I have done.
I tell you all this because I know what I want and day by day, word by word I will take it. So I hope you do as well, don’t let this world kill your dreams and don’t allow it to shatter your children’s either. Love you mom and Dad.