Millennials will be okay
Things look bad now, but Millennials possess traits that makes them better equipped to have a happier life than previous generations.
As a professor, I have marveled at the Millennials for their tech know-how*, for their compassion for a world that is bigger than they are, for their activist nature and for their originality. I always sort of resented the Baby Boomers lording their elder-statesman status over my generation, telling us they were better, that Gen X was just a bunch of unwashed whiny slackers pontificating pop-cultural nonsense at coffee shops. Now, as an aging Gen Xer, I find myself looking at the Millennials with both worry and wonder and—yikes—offering up generational wisdom on how to contend with what is arguably the worst situation handed to an age group since the Great Depression. I don’t want to be the pompous Boomer who knows all, because I’m not, and I don’t.
[* Basic understanding of Facebook and Twitter that we can parlay into jobs that old people don’t understand.]
But I can say this: Leave the expectations by the wayside. Work menial gigs to pay the bills. Pursue your passions every chance you get. Get up earlier. Stay up later. Do keep your laudable generational qualities—the activism and the global concerns—and keep your voices up at Occupy and at the ballot box. Stay passionate.
And most of all, handle it*.
[* “Just so you know, I’ll never be able to afford a place here,” my boyfriend told me the other night as we sipped drinks at Filini, the new restaurant inside Aqua, the shiny, 82-story crown jewel of Lakeshore East. He was joking—as I said, we’re nowhere near marriage, and I don’t think either of us have expectations of living somewhere that bourgie. But it struck me that Fine may be right—do I really care if I never get the quintessential coming-of-age soccer mom SUV? Or if I rent forever? As long as I’m doing something I love with someone I love (gag, I know), I’ll…well, I’ll handle it. Let’s just hope researchers keep pumping money into fertility drugs, because I may not be having babies until I’m 40.]