For millennials, ‘once in a generation’ came around twice


On September 11, 2001, I was 14 years old and just a few months into high school. The year I was 16, I took to the streets to protest the war in Iraq. I was just shy of voting age (and not particularly pleased about it) when George W. Bush was re-elected. In 2008, as a college senior watching the economy crater around me, I cast my first-ever presidential vote for Barack Obama. I was almost 30 years old and just a few months married when Donald Trump was declared president-elect.

And now it is 2020. I am 33 years old; I have worry lines and age spots. In just a few short months, America has grappled with a global pandemic, a new Great Recession, and a mass uprising against a white-supremacist and increasingly totalitarian police state. And we’re not even halfway through the year.

I grew up absorbing my Baby Boomer parents’ stories of adolescence and adulthood: coming of age in the turbulent ’60s and the free-loving ’70s, settling into white-collar careers and suburban family life in the ’80s and ’90s. But for the millennial generation — most often defined as those of us born between 1981 and 1996 — the blueprints for economic and domestic stability that our parents’ generation embraced are proving impossible to follow. Indeed, we are being squeezed by a machinery that was set in motion long before we were born.

When it comes to the economy, The Washington Post has dubbed millennials “the unluckiest generation in U.S. history.” When my peers and I began taking our first steps into a quaking workforce, we were told that the recession into which we’d just launched would be the defining economic experience of our lives. Only now, more than a decade into our independent adult lives, are many of us even beginning to achieve some semblance of job security or financial independence. And just a few months into a global pandemic, we are right back where we started. Many of my peers are losing jobs or having our savings depleted. Once in a generation has come around for us twice.

I’m one of the lucky ones. With a lot of privilege and a little bit of hustle, I’ve managed to accumulate many of the expected badges of adulthood in the American middle class: a career, a pet, a spouse, a house. I have managed to follow at least some of the blueprint laid down by my parents. And yet, in a society where the only safety net is the amount of money at your disposal, none of this feels comfortable. And all of it feels mildly fictitious — like living in a story written by someone else.

When I talk to my millennial friends about life in These Pandemic Times, we joke bleakly about the challenges of oncoming middle age. Our joints are too busted to march for extended periods on concrete and asphalt anymore. We can’t go on socially-distanced hikes or picnics without worrying where to find the …read more

Source:: The Week – Business


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