About a week ago, I made the tough decision to move back home for a while, work and try to save up my money for a UK work permit further down the road. I realized that even if I could apply for one now, the time it would take to find a job would leave me financially crippled. As painful as my decision is, it’s for the best.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I read Noreen Malone’s New York magazine cover story about millennials and our struggles to get good jobs, pay off our student loans and start families. While some aspects of her story were grating — if you can’t get a job in Williamsburg … look elsewhere? — others made sense. Namely, our generation has trouble getting angry and channeling that anger into progress. She also notes the annoyance of parents who raised us to have high self-esteem and then go on to tell us we act “entitled.” Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we’re a generation who did everything “right,” in terms of going to university, only to discover that that won’t necessarily help us. If it’s our own fault for being unemployed, what did we do wrong and what can we do right?
It’s interesting though that, looking at my friends from university, I see mostly success stories. I know people working for law firms, engineers with good state DOT internships and even some marketing types who’ve started their own companies. Most of my friends majored in journalism, an industry that we’re constantly told is in the crapper. Yet just about every one of them has a good job in the industry, be they reporters, editors, photographers or designers. Even on my end, I came very close to getting a good media job in the UK (I like to think I’d’ve had it were it not for my permit quandary), and have found several excellent prospects at home.
Despite these successes, it still feels that something’s missing. I thought about it and realized that it feels like our generation has nothing left to really “fight for.” We don’t have Nazis or Communists or the worst effects of state-sanctioned racial discrimination. We tend to be progressive and champion LGBT rights (with a lot of success) and environmental responsibility. But in terms of having a grand good vs. evil plot, we’re lacking. I think that’s why the Occupy Wall Street movement is catching our intention — our defining struggle might be an economic one.
Of course this is just speculation. I’m “only” 24 (OK, closer to 25) and I’m optimistic despite my plan to live and work in the UK getting shelved for the moment. It doesn’t feel like a failure, more of a postponement.
And I’m OK with that.