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Millennials and Struggle to Stand on Our Own

New York Times Online Magazine had an incredible article, ""What Is It About Twenty-Somethings?" I took the time to read it's 10 pages online because this very topic is so interesting.  I'm in my 20s and I live 2 hrs from where I grew up, in a different city and in my shared apartment.  I'm relatively happy going through the motions with a 9-5 job, just did my own taxes for the first time and am eagerly awaiting my refund.  I drive my parent's car that they own and pay for, and I'm pretty sure I've got a brake light out and a coolant leak.  Nevertheless I've gotten accustomed to finding solutions to these little problems without calling home, or at least trying my hardest not to.  I have avoided running home, even when last August I felt soo overwhelmed with life's burdens, love-sick heart and financial strain, on top of a job in which I felt unappreciated.  But I didn't run, though many do that are my age that can't handle the strain and hold part-time jobs and live at home.
"It’s happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood overall. It’s a development that predates the current economic doldrums, and no one knows yet what the impact will be — on the prospects of the young men and women; on the parents on whom so many of them depend; on society, built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on. The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un­tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life." (Henig, pg 1, NYTMag)


I for one do not plan on starting a family or getting married or settling down until I feel ready and like I've experienced things.  I'm sure for some, it would be something you would do with a spouse, find yourself, grow together in life and love.  But like the above statement our generation doesn't seem to nourish longevity in our relationships, nor true commitment.  We change our minds and run around impulsively from one love, adventure, home, job, to the next in hopes of finding the better than before solution to our current indifference or boredom.  At 24, my mother and my sister were married.  I'm 24 now and I don't at all feel pressure to do the same, because I know I have options and there's so much about myself to discover.  I feel empowered with the idea of time, time I'm not sure if I really have to seek out what's missing.  I don't think a single person could fill that so I'm desperately trying to find it in myself.  With my music and my soon-to-be full time singing job, I go through my days hoping and planning on my future, whilst trying to soak up the present the best I know how.  It's hard to plan and enjoy at the same time, but anything to avoid moving home.


I feel now more than ever that I am an adult.  I don't feel like a kid but I definitely am lacking in life experience, something I hope I will aquire as I delicately take risks in my Alex fashion.  I've never flown anywhere, yes that is correct but I have been in love once.  A very big lesson and quite a flight that was.  now that I've come back down to earth I definitely do see the world with new eyes, knowing that being loved is important but WILL NOT in fact, solve all my problems.  As I date, in my partners I think I've learned to seek for compassion, something a person either has or doesn't.  It can't really be taught or learned.  It usually just an innate quality, and it is what I am drawn to mainly because I know what it's like to love someone without a real empathetic bone in their body.  Aside from love and sex, life has come at me in full force.  A real income, taxes, student loan payments and grocery shopping, I know have to nurse myself back to health without the comfort of all my friends or parents.  I buy pot holders and tea pots, nice dishes and towels.  Things that once seemed unimportant before are now becoming things that make Los Angeles more like home, like MY home, that I enjoy to live in.

I feel like I've gotten to a decent start, but yes I am single and childless, something of an old maid if we were decades ago.  This article points out a delayed growth our generation is feeling.  Due to the economy, education, and lack of available jobs.  The article calls it, "emerging adulthood," where the not quite ready yet young adults don't get off to a solid start nor really complelely financially support themselves or anyone else.  And in our 20s we feel like we have so much to get done that while taking our time with growing up we pack in the crazy nights and things we think we won't get to do later.
"The stakes are higher when people are approaching the age when options tend to close off and lifelong commitments must be made. Arnett calls it “the age 30 deadline...If society decides to protect these young people or treat them differently from fully grown adults, how can we do this without becoming all the things that grown children resist — controlling, moralizing, paternalistic? " (Henig, pg 2, NYTMag)
Should our parents help us when we need it?  Or is the cushion and coddling keeping our young adults from reaching real adulthood...a failure to launch as it seems, and not just a Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew McConaughey RomCom.  He of course was 40 and still at home, which I'm sure is what could happen to our roaring 20s if we don't learn how to fend for ourselves.  I moved away from home to avoid being told what to do.  I had a dream and at 17, I went to find if it could work.  Seven years later I'm finally actually starting on getting to the dream because I had to grow up first to be able to handle what I want.  I'm still deciding, still learning, still growing but definitely according to my rules, FINALLY!!  I date who I please, I go where I wish and I can pay my own bills.  Now I know many many people with college degrees who cannot say the same thing.  Maybe they live with a significant other who pays their way and does their laundry, or a parent who's offered to help them save money but still cooks them meals and cleans, or a twenty-something with an artist career or one who's been recently laid off.  The Recession presented many problems to all of us, but the millenials, we are emerging adults that need to know what it's like to be on our own. 

I moved away from all my friends to middle of the city.  My best friend moved to Boston, my ex moved 15 miles away (that's alot in LA traffic), everyone has a job or a loved one.  I was alone for the first time and I was scared.  It took me half a year to find out I could do it.  Though it was a rough transition, life is tough.  If there's always a cushion there's no time for you to find out your "true grit" (wink wink).  Yes, some parents make it easy, but challenge yourself.  No we don't settle down and get married too early anymore because our society has changed.  College isn't finding an MRS degree anymore.  Just because we don't live on our own that way doesn't mean we can do it at all.  There is a way to do it, and it's different for everyone.  Take your young adult status through its emerging stage and grow up already.  You've got a little time to figure it out but 30 creeps up on you, don't let it hit you unprepared. 

Have fun enjoy life, but plan enough so that you are taking care of you.  Don't let yourself be stuck, when the time comes for you to actually make your life your own.  That means NOW, not tomorrow, NOW, so you can stop blaming your parents and everyone else for your unhappiness and start taking responsibility for your own finances, jobs and loves. 

READ THIS ARTICLE by the New York Times Magazine.  It poses alot of good points about 20 year olds in a great objective form.  What is up with us anyways and are we even to blame? 
What is it About 20-Somethings? by Robin Marantz Henig aug 18 2010 NYTMagazine
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