Has everyone read Taylor Cotter’s piece in the Huffington Post?
In brief: Taylor Cotter is 22. Taylor Cotter decided to take a job. As an editorial assistant! She’s sort of sad she won’t be all plucky and travel the world and, I don’t know, cocktail waitress with an eyepatch on one eye (it was kind of fun, okay?).
Look, I am going to admit that when I read the first sentence of Taylor Cotter’s piece – “like most female journalists, I assume, I only grew up with two real inspirations in my life: Carrie Bradshaw and Harriet the Spy” – my first impulse was to leap on that sentence like Liam Neeson would on a wolf, or the entire criminal underground. It is pretty tempting to strap some mini-bottles on your fingers and just tear that apart, because female journalists should only have one inspiration, and it should be Dorothy Parker, discussion over.
Well, shouldn’t we be pleased that 22 year olds are landing jobs, and not furious at them for daring to wonder what it would be like not to? I can cite a hundred articles that gleefully point out that all millenials are living in their parents basements. It’s not surprising that Taylor anticipated a few years of struggling to find employment. Girls is an entire television show dedicated to that notion.
But she did not have to! This girl got a job! Good for her! And now we’re upset because she’s curious about what it would have been like to struggle for a while?
Now, two months after graduation, I seem to be one of just a handful of people that’s been able to get themselves on their feet, pay their own bills and actually put together some semblance of an adult life with minimal parental assistance. I bought a car, found an apartment and set up a 401k, just six months after turning 22. I came down on the ‘right’ side of every statistic — I found a job in my field that actually pays well, I’m living on my own, and seem to have everything that these other college graduates are dying to have.
But what about that 10-cents-a-word life that I always wanted? What about New York City? What about freelancing, penning newspaper columns and urban adventures? What about the struggles that I see on Girls and the tales of credit card debt and ramen noodle dinners? Aren’t these the things that really make you 22?
I mean, being 22 makes you 22. There’s not necessarily a specific set of experiences you’re supposed to be having at a specific age. You can have adventures like you’re in Harold and Maude one day if you want to. Also, hell, Carrie Bradshaw was in her 30’s. We have no idea what she was doing at 22. She could have been married to an accountant and raising a family in Dayton for all we know.
From everyone else’s perspective, you can still look forward to the character-building experience of having something you wrote widely ridiculed on the internet. And I can tell you from experience, Taylor: the worst part is when you realize that you weren’t even paid for it. Never underestimate the character-building situations that you can get yourself in, just by being a 22-year-old who is complaining about having a stable income during the worst recession in living memory.
Dude. I’m still curious about what it would be like to be a grifter. (In my childhood, I only Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve and Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon for role models).
It’s the nature of life to be curious about roads you didn’t take. I think that, admittedly, this editorial assistant job that Taylor has landed is not going to set the course for her life the way she imagines it will, but frankly, I don’t think any of the choices she’s making are bad. And more importantly, I think she’s making a choice, and with that comes questions about what would have happened if she’d made a different choice. This sounds like a good choice. Good for her for deciding to take a job that it sounds like she’s well qualified to do. I’d say good for her for also having the intellectual curiosity to wonder about how her life might have played out if she made different choices, but then I’d just be congratulating her for being a human.
Being employed – even in the worst recession in living memory – doesn’t mean that you don’t wonder about other roads you could have taken. Especially when they’re the roads everyone has been telling you you’re going to have to take.
But Christ, young women do need to stop modeling their lives off of HBO shows. For everyone’s sake.