Millennials Have High Expectations

28 Jan

The baby boomers generation doesn’t understand us millennials. They look at us as complainers, entitled children, and lacking in worth ethic. As a millennial, I am certainly biased, but I don’t agree with these notions. Most of the people I know, who are around my age, actually work very hard. It’s not that we’re afraid to work hard, it’s that we want to work smart.

What’s the point of working hard? What are we working towards really? To buy a house? Can’t do that because I’m drowning under student loans, so even with a decent salary that is above average, I’m still practically living paycheck to paycheck in my tiny little studio. Is it to get married? My boyfriend and I are both attorneys, and before you roll your eyes, let me let you in on a little secret – being an attorney does not equal riches. In fact, our salaries are unimpressive and rather low when considered against the effort it took to graduate law school and pass the bar exam in two states. As far as I know, he’s been saving up for a ring for months now and for me, while I focus on how important is it to have a person in my life whom I love with my entire being, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be posed that question, that so many countless girls cannot wait to hear, anytime soon.

So I ask again, what are we working towards? We’re breaking our backs working 50+ hours per week, barely making it by, and we’re expected to do this for the next 50 years? Meanwhile, we’re also expected to put a percentage of our paychecks away for retirement. Umm…how? And to add insult to injury, many law firms don’t even offer retirement benefits. Don’t even get me started on health insurance, where dental and vision is considered a luxury.

I get it, i’m complaining, but I’m doing so because I don’t understand. I don’t think humans were put on this earth to be mindless zombies answering emails day and night and having only 2 days a week to be the masters of their own time. What’s the point of killing ourselves in high school to get into good colleges, to take out loans because the costs of these colleges are so exorbitant that normal middle class parents don’t have the means to help out, scholarships are low, and the federal government only gives money to those literally living in poverty.  So we’re doing all this because eventually, based on the traditional path our parents took, we will find that great job where we will work for 30+ years, garner a nice retirement and eventually live off of it. But it doesn’t work like that anymore does it? The cost of a higher education is no longer a year’s salary, or even two, for most millennials their loans are so high that they will be paying them off for the next 25-30 years (like a mortgage, except at the end of the 30 years, you don’t have a house to show for it). Can you imagine setting aside around $1,500-$2,000 per month from your salary to pay off your loans (i’m using those numbers based on what I pay)? Think about that in proportion to your income. Sure, some of you might laugh and say oh please I spend that on a weekend partying, but I think the bulk of you would shudder at the thought of how long it will take to not only pay off those loans but somehow save enough to enjoy your life as well.

So what am I writing all this for? Because I feel stifled, completely stuck between the generation that had their problems but also had it pretty nice and the generation that was born into the technological boom and has a better understanding of the fields that actually matter in our ever-changing society. I’m tired of telling my parents that I don’t want to live to work. I’m tired of explaining to them that as humans, while we certainly were made to challenge ourselves and have jobs, those jobs should not come at the expense of our free time with our loved ones. Where are our priorities people?? How does it make sense to kill yourself for that paycheck so you can buy that shiny new car and the big house so that you could kill yourself for that paycheck so you can afford to keep that shiny new car and the big house. Do you see how vicious this cycle is?

I don’t want any part of it. And yet, what can I do? I feel as though if I want to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly, I have to put my head down and follow the heard. Of course, this is fear talking. I haven’t reached that point of self-actualization yet, where I can admit to myself that veering off “the path” might be ok, and the only reason I rationalize not doing based on potentially become homeless or not being able to afford food, is because I am scared of being different. We’re bred to be the same, to be employees. That’s what high school, college, society and our parents have taught us. Good grades in high school = college = job that pays. That’s the formula we all follow, is it not? But what happens after you acquire that job that pays. No one ever tells you what to do when you realize you don’t get any satisfaction from that job, or it doesn’t pay enough for how hard you work, or it doesn’t pay enough for you to enjoy your time on this earth that does not include sitting in an office and making your boss rich.

What’s the answer? I don’t know, but if we put our heads together as a generation, I’m positive we can figure it out. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to reading/listening to self-help books to control my anxiety about my job, my future, and whether I will have the opportunity to start the family I have always wanted.

TLDR: Being a millennial sucks and something’s gotta give.

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