I'm having a quarter-life crisis. Not only that, but I'm worried it's going to last me for the next 75years.
I wake up every day with the same hopes and dreams as the one's I had when I was 16 and I am no closer to achieving them. I feel like, short of getting my period, I have achieved nothing that classifies me as an 'adult' since I turned 14. I'm also what, £40,000 in debt and around the 20th of every month I start ebaying everything I own just in case I can't afford to eat nothing but canned soup till payday. Don't get me started on the internal panic-attack I endure if someone wants to run a credit check on me; I'm about a financially viable as brick wall. I have waking nightmares every time I see another one of my friends has got engaged or is pregnant- I am actually finally coming round to the idea that I'm going to end up in a civil partnership with a pack of bacon. I spend almost every day of my life feeling totally 'whelmed' and misunderstood because let's face it, if I tell anyone who isn't on the verge of 20something suicide, that it's hard out there, they just assume I'm not working hard enough. But I am. I'm working so much I'm half tempted add my head to one of those 'Save the Grecian Donkey' adverts you now see on the underground. If I were a mood ring, the colour would translate to somewhere between mad-as-hell and totally miserable.
Before you roll your eyes, this is not some dispirited plea for pity, it's a reflection of our current socio-economic climate and it's nothing to be ashamed of. I am not alone in feeling this way. Most 20 something's I know are living through their own personal hell and cut us some slack, we're living through a decade of failure. We live in a world in which we obsess about Miley Cyrus' tongue, where FOMO is actually becoming a symptom of depression, where we live by the "everybody gets a trophy" school of child-raising and where we insist on propagating the unpaid intern system. Millennials are the first generation predicted to be financially worse off than our parents since the Second World War; I think now might be the worst time in living memory to be a young person.
I might not have wrinkles or crushing responsibilities like kids, mortgages or my parents living in my spare room but do you know what, I don't have a 'proper' job. I don't have a relationship. I don't have money. I don't even have a home, let alone one with a spare room. I should have all of these things and more, because I'm 20something, I have 2degrees and have had every opportunity afforded to me. We're the generation that was told they could do anything, so the pressure's on us not only to succeed but also to be perfect.
I can sense more people sighing, telling me to not wish away my life with responsibilities and ties but goddamn it- the biggest responsibility I currently have is keeping a plant alive. I've loved and cared for a Basil plant for 6 goddamn months and I finally feel ready to learn the meaning of fixed-rate APR. I'm in the thick of what the Sociologist, FF Furstenberg Jr calls "the changing timetable for adulthood." Your 20's is that decade where all of these important transitions and milestones are supposed to take place and my biggest fear is that I won't accomplish them within what is deemed an appropriate timeframe. At 26, I feel like I am running out of time.
After studying at university for 5years to receive a Masters degree and then finding out working at McDonalds is a viable option you wonder why I think the world owes me something. No one ever told me that my degree/s would be nothing more than a decoration and an effing great burning hole in my pocket. We have this idea that we'll be gainfully employed right out university because that's what everyone told us would happen; 'dream-job' and 'the-one' are two fat lies fed to every single 20 something the world over. Conforming to the stereotype (for a change) like my 'me-first' generation, I do blame myself for my own short-comings. In the same way that I feel like I should have it figured out by 30, I feel like I should have seen this coming at 16.
Time Magazine said of the Millennial generation, "They're narcissistic. They're lazy. They're coddled. They're even a bit delusional." We're not lazy, we're just not prepared to settle for that job in Costa Coffee Esther Mcvey and can you blame us? What people perceive as Millennial narcissism is actually just a reflection of our desire to make an impression on the world instead of just bumbling-on-by. We were told we could have it all and that's what we're going after. People call us the 'Entitled Generation', 'Generation Rent' and the 'Millennial Moochers' but I personally think the 'Ruined Generation' is more apt because we're not entitled, we're fucked.
I don't feel special or entitled, just poor and minus any sense of life-fulfilment. The only thing that makes me unique is I have more debt than you. Every generation has it's struggles, it's trials and tribulations and I would never belittle those but my generation is the first who knows how hard it is come of age in the post-modern, fast paced, social-media hungry, technological world because no other generation has done that before.
I was born into a generation with the world at my fingertips, raised on the assumption that my financial prospects would be the same, if not greater, than those of my parents but instead the world we were told we could have, is out of reach; that career ladder we were all aiming to get on, is a high-chair away. I don't know anyone that believes life should be handed to us on a silver platter and we really have been brought-up on a plethora of possibilities and freedom of choice but everyone I know lives with the daily anxiety that we should have done things differently. Perhaps being over educated makes us far more able and likely to question our choices and interrogate our options. Perhaps it's not then so surprising that the concept of 'should' has become the backbone to Millennial life. 'Should I be launching my own business? Should I become the master of IT technology and social media? Should I settle?' Anyone following the above 3 paths are having a ball. The rest of us, are simply striving to achieve perceived expectations rather than doing what we really want which is probably raging against the machine and shrinking into some sort of minimalistic hippie lifestyle, on a beach. Yeah I want to run away- what have I got to stay for?
A few months ago, the BBC reported that "...adolescence now effectively runs up until the age of 25". In some ways I can wholly agree. If everyone keeps asking me to work for free to 'prove' myself, I'll never get out of the debt the government has put me in so I can kiss goodbye to owning a property. If I continue to dedicate my every waking hour to making a decent living (so I don't need to take out a loan to eat a £4 Pret sandwich) I may never have kids because I'll certainly never marry, because I literally cannot meet anyone when my head is stuck in a black hole of financial, emotional and physical rejection. Wrap me up in swaddling cloth and put me back in the uterus- I am not fit to be adult.
So come on world, who's a girl got to shag to get a life around here? I want to live my face off and right now my life is so far from being together it's not even funny. I'll tell you one thing though- I'm strangely optimistic, because I have to be. Optimism is the Millennial survival strategy; I've seen enough change in the world to know that it can change again. After all, confidence has been hard-wired into my DNA. We were taught to believe in ourselves so we will continue to do so, because let's face it; what have we got to lose?