The Youth, the Youth, the Youth are on Fire

October 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

As I was driving home from a soul-uplifting (and you know cheap) dinner date in Georgetown, I was privy to this story on NPR about me. And by me I of course mean all the mes in this country from the age of 17-32 who are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.

What struck me the most was the story after story of callers who are stuck in dead end jobs that don’t pay well, or can’t find work to begin with, coupled with when the conversation steered toward whether or not this generation was harmed by the “do what feels good” mantra of our 90s childhoods.

I was underpaid at a dead end job that I couldn’t stand. I didn’t have to struggle to make ends meet financially, but I wasn’t going anywhere within the company and I was constantly struggling to balance the 40-50 hour work week with the generally small-time theater gigs I could manage with the schedule I had. NPR was becoming grimmer and grimmer and the House was doing everything in its power to make the rest of the country hate us DelMarVans even more, and I had begun to think I was never going to get out.

That was when I realized that this economic and political climate might last for the next decade. I might be 35 by the time anything begins to settle down, barring a full-on Hunger Games/Wizard War/other YA novel-envisioned apocalypse and dystopian future. I can’t spend my youth waiting for the world to change, John Mayer. I need to do my shiz now and do it the way I want, lest I set myself on a rocket aimed straight for midlife crisis.

In this story they touch on the “optimism” of this generation, which apparently covers over two decades of births and has a whole hell of a lot of people in it, where we emerged from all our extra super* higher educations all bright eyed and bushy tailed, full of creativity and spunk and new ideas, and the world pulled a great big EFF YOU GUYS and punched us in the face for about four years. But now I guess we’re starting to realize that just hanging out and waiting for the world to get tired of punching us in the face isn’t really working, and that we should maybe use that optimism in a more proactive way than, “well I mean it was awesome when we were kids so it’ll get awesome again probably…”

It has been really encouraging to see positive stories about my generation finally coming to light. This newscast, stories of protesters, a book I’m reading**. Finally, to see that there is hope and we’re not all doomed, specifically because this generation is different. I like the idea that we actually could be the hope of the future someday maybe***.

It’s just, I don’t know, comforting.

*read: expensive
**Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott. Y’all should give it a read, and big ups to my friend Carrie for shoving it in my hands and recommending it so enthusiastically.
***though possibly in a galaxy far far away

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