A few months ago while working at a prior job I was working with one of my supervisors that is in her 50’s and we just started to talk about life. I was telling her i’m 23 years old and I live on my own and how sometimes I wish I had more time to do things for myself but work comes first. She told me she had a daughter of the same age that lived at home, worked full time and went to school full time. I told her i’d love to go to school full time but it’s kind of hard with working and bills come first. She told me her daughter had to work full time because her and her husband couldn’t afford to put her through school along with her other financial obligations. As we talked about the stressors of my life and other young adults she told me she calls our generation “Generation Anxiety”…..
I immediately asked why she called us that because I usually see older people connecting our generation with positive words because they feel we have so much opportunity and our generation has so much individuality. She started to explain that in her generation after highschool you would choose to go to college or not. If you chose not to go to college you would find an entry level position and stick with that company until retirement. If you chose college you would go away to college with the help of your parents and pay a tuition of only a couple thousand dollars, find a job and retire. That is definitely not our generation now!
The average cost of a college student to go to school and live on campus is $22.300 a year with yearly increases. The average household income of all races in the United States is $49,445 . Black people have the lowest of the average household income coming in at only $32,068. Some young adults still choose to go to college in hopes of finding a good job with a degree. Going to college requires loans to be taken out which in itself is a stressor because you have to hope that after college you can afford to pay the loans. Some young adults decide to skip college because they don’t want the debt that comes with college. Even then they have to find a job that hopefully pays enough for them to support themselves and no longer depend on their parents.
I do not have my degree yet and sometimes I question if I will get it and i’ll explain why. I have many friends that have degrees and have yet to find a job that can support them enough to pay their loans and support themselves fully. At my last job the only difference of pay between me and a person that had a degree was $2.00. Due to the economy the jobs are not out there for people with degrees and a $2.00 difference of pay is not worth $80,000 of debt to me. Don’t get me wrong there are also some of my friends that have found good jobs but then the issue of job security comes up. Job security is not what it used to be at all. Many companies are downsizing and cutting entry level positions along with employees that have been there for years. So what stability does my generation have? How do we feel confident in our choice to work hard for degrees and get good jobs knowing the state of our economy?
We also have to worry about resources for our children if we decide to have them. The expenses of having children increase while our incomes do not show the same trend. In our generation it is pretty much a must that a household needs two incomes to be comfortable unlike before where one income could support a household. Then we have things to worry about such as retirement. The way it’s looking retirement, pensions and things like that aren’t guaranteed for us. If we are lucky to get retirement funds we probably wont retire til after 60 years old.
With all that ranting being done about Generation Anxiety I still know that that is not all that we are. I definitely think about all these things and the pressures of this world but my mind won’t let me stay in a negative space. When I flip my thinking and let the positive come in I realize we are Generation Entrepeneur, Self Expression, Individuality, and so many other great words! I realize that my generation is full of young entrepeneurs and people that express their individuality through art and experiences. The good thing is that all this anxiety has pushed many young people to create their own businesses and to work hard at building their own empires in untraditional ways. To older generations we may sometimes come off as wild and maybe “too” free but we are that way because in a sense we HAVE to be. We have to push through obstacles, stress and so many things that will stand in our way of living our best life. We have show our individuality because that is all that we have in this lifetime. Nothing else is guaranteed. We are definitely the generation that will persevere through all this anxiety and show the next generation what it means to live your best life despite the odds!
How do you feel about Generation Anxiety? How do you get through life despite the odds? Do you feel things have changed from generations before us? Do you feel that we are living in a world that is failing us? Share your thoughts!