I just finished reading an excerpt from The Atlantic where Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissman questioned why my generation is not buying as many cars or houses relative to previous generations. I thought this was pretty interesting given my shitty living situation over the last year and a half that I am finally starting to crawl out of. Hopefully I can conduct this entry where the reader can imagine myself shaking my fist at the beginning, and then fist-pumping at the end.
I’m one of the luckier ones. I graduated college without any financial obligations and I was able to land a pretty good job considerably soon after graduating (even with my depressing blubbering over the last year). But not everyone else is so lucky – I’ve had friends who went out on their own right out of high school and conceded to thousands of dollars of student loans to pay their way through college. They’ve picked up multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Some of us only took one or two classes at a time, taking breaks between semesters to replenish their bank accounts to pay for the next semester. It’s hard. It really is.
And the reason a lot of us decide to take care of everything on our own is because that’s just the culture we have been brought up in. Independence is something that feeds our pride, regardless of how hard it might be to support ourselves. I hated asking my parents for anything. I have been working since I was 15, and while I still lived with my parents while I was going to school, I never asked them for money. It wasn’t until recently that I found out that people carried this impression of me being a spoiled little brat whose father bought all her designer dresses – NO, people. I am not spoiled! I deserve all of my things because I worked for the money to pay for them myself. I lived pretty efficiently through school and bought my things after paying for books, insurance, etc. My tuition was reimbursed by my job at the University Hospital. Like I said – I’m one of the lucky ones.
I’m no different from any Generation Y child (i.e. “Cheapest Generation”) – I still want a car and a house. And I WILL get my car and house, just not as soon or easily as they make it seem in the movies. Life doesn’t conduct itself perfectly and smoothly according to plan. I thought I’d graduate college, land a job, and live the American Dream. In real life, the sequence is essentially the same, but there are gaps and forks in the road in between. It’s not smooth sailing all the way – It takes pain, sweat and tears to get to where you want. Go ahead and label my generation as the “Cheapest Generation,” but we are up against some insane challenges that we were so fortunate to inherit from our predecessors (SARCASM). Hooray for climate change, reliance on student loans, deep political polarization, stereotypes, a wrecked economy. These are the things that are making us “CHEAP” and making us more reluctant to move out of our parents’ houses and less able to move forward with our own lives independently.
Now I’m not trying to blame my parents’ generation for the problems we have now. I simply think this is the nature of progress. While technology is advancing and capitalism is flourishing, trade-offs affect other parts of society and there isn’t anything we can do about it. Time will always be of the essence and it’s up to us to make the best of each moment if we want to make a difference for future generations. There always has been and always will be problems – What matters most is how we deal with them. And if that means putting off your decision to buy a new car or house until later in life than your parents did, well don’t feel ashamed. Feel proud to be part of the “Cheapest Generation,” because we’re just being practical given the circumstances that we need to navigate our lives through. Granted, I think we’re doing a pretty good job with the cards we’ve been dealt.