The New York Times wants to know why you kids today can’t be the way they were. They were perfect in every way. Why won’t 20-somethings grow up? Why won’t you get jobs and get married, doggonit? And why do you keep moving back in with your parents? Kill yourselves. Just kill yourselves, you wretched, filthy leech children.
Perhaps I carried that a little far. I’m sorry, in my mind, all New York Times articles are narrated by a 159 year old man who is 74 million dollars in debt. I don’t know where I got those numbers from. In any event, the article states:
A cover of The New Yorker last spring picked up on the zeitgeist: a young man hangs up his new Ph.D. in his boyhood bedroom, the cardboard box at his feet signaling his plans to move back home now that he’s officially overqualified for a job. In the doorway stand his parents, their expressions a mix of resignation, worry, annoyance and perplexity: how exactly did this happen?
It’s happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood overall… The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain untethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life.
Huh, old dude who writes for the NYT. Huh.
I’m not sure why that is. It could be because we’re uniquely misunderstood snowflakes, just like everyone else. It could be because mom folds our underwear really nicely when she does the laundry. Or it could be because we came of age at a time where we couldn’t find any jobs. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it isn’t anyone’s plan to graduate and move back in with their parents (I adore my parents, but if I spent more than about 10 days living with them now, I’d go stir crazy).
Of course we don’t want to move back in with our parents and remain perpetual adolescents. We were a generation that was told that we were all the best and brightest. Some sort of weird societal fears about harming children’s sense of self worth meant that we all got to be winners at something (I still have my “most improved” soccer trophy, and I often sat under the goal reading comic books for the entire game). We all took extracurriculars and won prizes in useless things like viola playing. We took SAT classes. We were all told we were expected to go to college, so we all went to college. We had a great self esteem, because we were going to take over the world! Then we graduated in the middle of a recession. And no one wanted to hire us.
As I recall, when I was freelancing for the New York Post, Pulitzer Prize winners were getting laid off. I don’t know what it’s like trying to get hired when there’s not a 10% unemployment rate, but I do know that the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where the main character rolls in with some laminated articles from her college newspaper and gets hired at a major fashion magazine makes 20-somethings laugh so hard that cheerwine spews out of their noses. And it’s extra frustrating, because, since we’re all winners who must never, ever settle, we thought we’d have a job we sort of liked. We didn’t know that we’d be competing to be a barista at Starbucks for the health benefits. It’s enough to make anyone want to curl up in a fetal position and move back home where someone will take care of you.
However, that really doesn’t make for the best dating prospects. And who wants to date when their own life doesn’t seem the least bit under control yet? For that matter, who wants to date when you have to sleep over at his parent’s house?
You want us to grow up, Olds? Stop trying to recruit us into stupid unpaid internships. Give us actual jobs. With health benefits. I think you’ll find that after being stuck three years out of college still working horrendous part-time jobs, 20-somethings will be more grateful for that job than you can imagine (every morning, I resist the temptation to sing a song glorifying B5media. For serious). We’re not trying to forstall adult life. We’d love to start adult life. Just try us. We’ll be over here in the corner, playing Wii. But not because we want to.