Are We Waiting to Grow Up?

I’ve been doing some research on an oh so secret project (I’ll explain myself later, promise) and I have been seeing quite a bit of literature out there “explaining” why Millennials “aren’t growing up” or “things Millennials are refusing to do” and I can’t help but feel insulted. The general consensus of older generations is that we’re: lazy, immature, financially irresponsible children who are shirking the necessary responsibilities of life. I could not disagree more. While no generation in its entirety is perfect, I do believe that Gen. Y has a few things stacked against them.

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It’s true that Gen. Y is holding off on major purchases, but with the average student loan debt at the end of 2013 being $29,400, can you blame us? These numbers were not even on the radar of 30 years ago. Most students today are facing 20 years of repaying student debt whereas our Gen. X counterparts only had a fraction of that debt. Of course, one can argue that we “dug ourselves into this hole”, but I can guarantee you it wasn’t a Millennial who sold the “student loans are a good debt to have because a degree is a solid investment” line. We also have to deal with the reality that workforce is stacked against us.

The days of staying with one job for 30 years are dead and gone.  According to Forbes the average worker stays at each of his/her jobs for 4.4 years. If you ask other generations it’s because we don’t want to stick it out, or we want to be the CEO within the first year. The truth is that most millennials are looking for jobs that can help them manage the unbearably high student loans they have to pay back. The average salary for recent 2013 graduates is $45,327. However, when you put that in context with the $29,400 student loan average and cost of living, it’s not an easy feat. So where are the decent paying jobs? They are still with the same people who applied to them decades before.

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Since the average retirement age jumping up from 57 in 1992 to 62 in 2013, Baby Boomers have not been making enough room for younger generations to fill in. This forces, Gen Y to work any job that comes their way to make ends meet. There are as many as 40% of recent graduates are employed in jobs that do not require degrees. Gen X does not understand this hardship because they have the experience and degrees to go after higher paying jobs.

These are just a few things that millennials are dealing with. I’m not even going to touch the dating scene as that could take some time getting into. With that being said, I fully accept the job market and my student loans. No one held a gun to my head as I signed my master promissory note and I am paying them back. Due to the fact that I (and most millennials too) am being responsible for my debt, certain life goals tend to take a backseat. What grinds my gears about these articles and beliefs held by older generations is that their expectations for us are quite ridiculous.

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The biggest argument against millennials is that we are immature and irresponsible because we aren’t settling down and getting married. So you’re telling me, that on top of trying to establish a decent career and paying back student loans, I’m supposed to be getting married and popping out babies simultaneously? In my opinion that would be the irresponsible thing to do. Why would I join in union with another person facing the same realities as myself while trying to make a family with a bunch of debt and a shaky job market hanging over our heads? Then to add insult to injury put a baby in the mix. Sounds like a great way for a marriage to fail. Yeah, no thanks.

In my opinion millennials that are not trying to rush into more responsibilities are more intelligent than you realize. It’s not that getting to the altar and starting a family are not goals of millennials, it’s just that there are a few things we need to take care of first. So before you go rushing to judgement about how we don’t want to grow up or are killing the real estate market take an honest hard look at what our reality looks like. It’s not 1980 anymore and we’re rolling with the punches as best we can. Don’t worry though, we’ll “grow up” eventually, Millennials do you agree? What are some of the things you have to figure out before you “grow up”?

Fake it Til You Make It

When it comes to things I want, I’m quite ambitious (unless we’re talking about the opposite sex, then I run and hide. But that is a different story for a different day). Particularly with work. I really have no clue where it comes from, but if I see something that I want, I go out and get it. One instance in particular was the time I worked at my university at the student technology center.

Just a little background info, I transferred to a school in Arizona from Southern California. Up until new student orientation, I had never been to that region, so I was moving 400 miles away from home, going in completely blind. It was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far. Ok, so going to school out of state isn’t cheap and a girl needs funds to keep up a Starbucks addiction, thus began my search for employment. I particularly wanted to work on campus because of the work-study program (untaxed paychecks!). I came across a job titled “student tech” and thought to myself, “hm, let’s apply for this one”. Now I should probably preface this by saying I seriously lacked in technological aptitude, but hey, who needs to know how to do their job anyways?

So I filled out the application and submitted it. Shortly thereafter I received an email asking me to complete a short test to vet my computer skills. Since I didn’t have any, I paid my little brother who is tech savvy $20 to take it for me. After the test was completed, the manager asked me in for an interview in the following 2 days. Since I was going up there to get the keys to my apartment and meet my roommate, I figured, why not kill 2 birds with one stone? Of course I was excited, I was getting to start a new chapter in my life and I might have potential employment. Now on to the interesting part.

For the sake of efficiency, I decided to do the interview first before hanging out with my new roomie and her mom. I quickly stopped into the apartment, exchanged pleasantries, and explained that I needed to jet to the interview, and I was off. Since my apartment was literally right next to the university, I thought I would have no trouble finding the building. Wrong. Typically, I’m pretty solid on directions but that day, I was batting a thousand. Worried that I would be late, I called the manager trying to figure out which building it was. She was great at giving clearcut directions. I should also mention that in Flagstaff the elevation is significantly higher than what I was accustomed to and I was wearing heels (something else I was not accustomed to). So I’m stumbling around, sweating, out of breath, trying to get to this building on time. I must disclose that the building was right smack in front of me the whole time.

So I finally find the office and the manager. I was sweaty, breathless, and walking like I had a limp (I only wear flats now). She escorted me to a room with a dozen socially awkward males working on computers. As she opened the door, all of them stopped what they were doing and stared at us as we walked by to go to the conference room (Cue even more sweating). I then sat down at a long rectangular table facing a panel of 3 student tech seniors, the manager, as well as another manager. We exchange the proverbial niceties. I quickly rambled off some facts about myself and then the interview began.

The panel interview worked like this: there were 10 questions they took turns asking me. Now, keep in mind that I had primitive computer skills. So I was faced with a dilemma, I could bullshit the answers and sound completely idiotic, or I could be honest and say I did not know (even still, idiotic). I chose the latter. Question after question, I would say I don’t know, and my confidence was waining and I felt like a chump. Not only was I wasting these people’s time, I felt like a moron. I felt like I was in Guantanamo being questioned on suspicions of treason (I would later come to realize that I was only in there for less than 20 minutes). The last few questions were softball ones so I answered a few (4 out of 10 ain’t bad O.o).

At one point I wanted to run out of the room from shear embarrassment. I was asking myself “I really didn’t think this through, I mean did I really think I could get away with this?”. So after the “interrogation” the manager paused and said “We normally don’t do this right off the bat, but the job is yours if you want it”. I must have had a look of bewilderment because she followed up with “We need someone with your interpersonal skills. Computer information is something we can teach you, being able to talk to human beings, we can’t”. She was pretty funny (we’d later go on to becoming good friends after I graduated and still are). I walked out of the conference room, the dozen socially awkward boys were still staring me down, but I didn’t care. I came, I saw, I conquered. I was on cloud nine.

I worked at the student tech center my whole duration of college. Funny enough, I was promoted to a senior role after being there a year. The one thing (among others) that experience taught me was that you can’t succeed if you don’t try. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to get what you want. If you want it, go get it. The feeling of accomplishment is so worth it. Worst comes to worst they can tell you no, but you never know until you try. I think for my next profession, I’ll become a successful writer, who knows 😉

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The college student/adult transition conundrum

I’m sure like most people my age, the transition stage from college student to full fledged adult has its trials and tribulations. I mean seriously, if I would have known it was this confusing/difficult/emotionally draining, I would have found a way to stay in college forever.

I think it’s funny that society tells you to go to school, get an education, land a decent paying job, and presto! You’re an adult now. It seems so simple right? Well, anyone who is in/ or has been in this phase in life knows it’s not all sunshine and daisies. I can honestly say I was not prepared for the realities that the “Real World” has to offer.

Being responsible for yourself, paying rent, finding a job, paying bills, without the security of your parents are a few of the amazing amenities college students get to enjoy post grad. (Unless you were an independent student holding it down on your own during college, super kudos to you, you’re pretty much there.)

Never mind the financial pressures post grad students face, it’s really the emotional ones that are a bitch. For me, after graduating, I felt like I lost my identity. For 5 (super senior!) years, I was Taryn, the college student. After the ceremony and all the balloons and confetti were gone, I went from feeling like I conquered the world to feeling like I have nothing to show for it.

I’ll admit I totally was green with envy to my friends and fellow classmates about their achievements and plans post grad. I had decided to “chill out” for a year and go to grad school. I thought it was a solid plan, that was until I found out that I was not “keeping up with the Joneses”.

I think one of the hardest parts of graduating is that your social circle shrinks SIGNIFICANTLY. Many of my hometown friends had transplanted to their respective college towns thus intensifying my feelings of failure. Plus the high school people who stayed local are more concerned with local parties, drama, etc that you can’t relate to. (Not knocking people who don’t attend college, but, let’s be honest conversation topics are few and far between). Even for an extrovert like myself, it’s difficult to make new friends.

One of these days someone needs to create an exit class that all college seniors must take to prepare them for the anti-climatic lull they almost certainly will face after graduation. Hm maybe I’ve found my new calling…

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