Friday, November 15, 2013

Anybody Got a Map?


If there's one thing I can't stand it's when people speak for the entirety of their generation.

"These are the words of my generation.."

"My generation was..."

"We were the generation of..."

As if they've actually sat down and had a conversation with every single person ever to be born in their generation. Blanket statements like that cannot be made because everyone has different opinions. You might think something is brilliant and some else might think it's crap. That's just life.

So yes, I am someone who was born in 1995 and I am talking about my generation; but I do not speak on behalf of my generation. My thoughts are my thoughts and those are the only ones I can be held accountable for. 

Thinking about my "my generation" actually started in my high school english class of all places. In 11th period AP Literature and Composition we were having a group discussion on Ernest Hemingway's the Sun Also Rises which is about a group of expatriates who are disillusioned with society following World War I and are deemed the "Lost Generation". Following the discussion our teacher told us that someone in one of her classes thought that we were a Lost Generation. This wasn't an adult or a Baby Boomer, this was one of us. 

And the more I thought about... the more I kind of agreed. 

We as a unit have some problems. 

Either:

We work hard, we push ourselves, stress ourselves out and worry and have anxiety for our entire high school careers. Pulling all nighters doing research papers, taking all AP and honors classes, paying that money for those tutors so those test scores can be achieved. And your parents are on you constantly. They did it. They got in. They got their degree. They got their job. So much time and effort. And you work and work and work and then... maybe you get into that school. The one that you think controls the rest of your future. There's only a handful of jobs out there, less and less everyday for us, the right school means more chances of being successful. 

But you're not the only one who wants that spot. There's all the rest of the kids in the country on the verge of a nervous breakdown with parents breathing down their neck. And it's not how it was when you're parents were our age. Back in the day, when college wasn't a necessity if not a requirement like it is now. When if you applied, you got in. When it wasn't so competitive. When it wasn't the whole country, the whole world, competing for a few thousand spots. The international ones you have to watch for. The ones going to more and more American schools. Because they have the test scores. Because they work hard. They don't feel entitled which sometimes us Americans have a way of being. We're also called the "Cupcake" generation. Because some us feel that for some reason the world owes it to us to give us that Ivy League spot over someone from China or India or Europe, but you thought wrong. And they'll get their American education and take their American knowledge back to their country. Fingers crossed the job you had to get, because you didn't get in and didn't apply to any other schools because you were a legacy and had perfect SAT scores and a perfect GPA, doesn't get outsourced...

I'm a glass half full kind of  gal, so just for a heck of it let's say you get in. Wa hoo!!! So how are you going to pay for it? It's not a few grand like it was in our parents day. College is now a small fortune. And getting pricer by the minute. 

We'll just ignore that mythical 1% I always hear about, the ones with the kids who were born in solid gold just because they could afford to be. Then there is the plight of Middle Class America; too rich to qualify for financial aid, too poor to pay for college. I feel for you guys, really I do. 

So mommy and daddy won't pay for it, now what. I'll tell you what; DEBT! Debt, debt, debt! Student loans all around. Yeah you'll get your degree all right, and be in debt for the rest of your life paying for it. I know people who graduated with $200,000 of debt. How do you even get out of bed with that hanging over your head every day? And it doesn't just stay one amount, there's interest. So it better be paid back in a timely manor. I don't even want to think about how expensive it's going to be for my kids to go to college...

But that's the business. And it is most definitely a business. The business of getting an education. It's like gas prices. They can charge whatever they want because we need it and they know it.

Our education is the only edge we have. We didn't get the nice little boom in the 90's and early 2000's. All those jobs were outsourced, are being done by robots, or they became obsolete. We got the Great Recession. Which sounds a lot like "The Great Depression" but it's different because back in those days people were more upfront and called things like they saw them. 

So what are our options: pull a little home movie action a-la Kim Kardashian and try to become famous for no reason at all, try to win the lottery, or move back home and sit tight waiting for the Baby Boomers to retire and make some room in cooperate America. But who knows how long that'll take, with the retirement age being what, 65 these days? 

So this is what we have to look forward to; we break our necks in high school, to go to schools we can't afford, in order to get jobs that don't exist. Yeah I think we're pretty lost. 

Then there's the other people of my generation who say:

Screw it all! College is too expensive, I don't want to be in debt, I don't want to have to try so hard for four years for basically no reason.

So they don't try at all. 

A gap between our generation has been created.

They're complacent. They accept mediocrity and come to terms with being Blue Collar because they see no other reasonable way. 

And there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm all about being debt free. I have one of those circumstances that the AP kids in my classes always hate. I was in middle school when the recession happened and I had two older sisters ahead of me in the college game so I knew what was coming. I come from a well off family where I knew that I was going to college and that my parents would pay the bulk of it. I would have to take out a small loan but just so I would have some "skin in the game". Then 2008 happened. And I had a sister in college and another one on the way. And parents who had me later in life who would be of retiring age when it was my turn. And there were expenses. So I made the conscious decision that I was going to college for free. And so from age four to seventeen I worked my butt off and to get a full ride. And yeah, I skipped homework because I had a hard workout and couldn't keep my eyes open. And sure, I did that research paper the night before because I had meets all week and I was busy. School wasn't going to pay for my future, track was, so guess which was my priority. My grades were not what they could've been had I been fully invested in my studies but they were what they needed for me to get by. I was never even once worried about getting in. My worry was who's going to pay the most... 

But we're all slave to the same power, to colleges. We have this pent up aggression because we see the problems and we want to fix it, but we have to do it, we have to go to college to get jobs, so we're just stuck. Where is the way out?

And for all the trouble it's causing we don't even appreciate the knowledge we're getting. College is just a stepping stone to get a good job. For us, getting information is too easy. A simple google search on an Iphone, a Galaxy, a Droid, literally unlimited knowledge at out fingertips. And what do we do with it; look up cat videos on YouTube. But what do you expect? We take it for granted because it's so easy. In olden times, they actually had to go to libraries and read books to get information. It took effort to find that knowledge and so it was cherished and appreciated. We've lost that. It's so easy now that it's not a big deal.

But that's like everything really. Now that we can stay connected 24/7 we say nothing of importance. You bet your lucky stars if I only talked to someone every seven weeks because that's how long it took for the letter to arrive that I would value that person and the words shared between us a lot more. Now it's the age of technology and communication but we can't interact with each other. Not face to face. Who needs conversation when you can send a text. LOL. Our time is too valuable to actually type out full words. Because we're so important. 

I don't know about you guys but the mantle in my basement is full of trophies I got just for existing. Never made a single point in basketball but I got a participation trophy. In elementary school, I got a gold star every morning just for being in class. Why? Because I'm special. And my parents told me I was special and that I could do whatever I wanted and be whatever I wanted when I grew up. Because I was that special. And you were that special. And you, and you, and you too. Because our generation was coddled like no other. Of course everything you have to say is important! Please, make that facebook post about how you just went to the grocery store to buy bread. No, really, tweet about how you're about to go to bed because it really does matter. Because you're just that special.

Tough love ain't so tough these days. 

But how else are we supposed to make sense of things if we can't talk to each other all the time. How are we supposed to know what we're thinking if we don't know what everyone else is thinking? The basis of "original" is now whoever copyrights it first. 

The world is a weird place and it's hard to make sense of things. I've never lived during "peace" time but I've never felt in danger. Again, there's that American entitlement. Of course there's no serious threat, this is America, that doesn't happen here. But then it did. When I was four or five. And I hear that things used to be different. That on September 10, 2001 the world was an entirely different place. But I didn't grow up in that world, I grew up in post 9/11 world. I didn't know airport security wasn't always like this, that foreign policies weren't always this way, that there weren't always yellow ribbons on the doors. This is the only kind of living I've experienced. 

For basically my entire life my country has been at war with a concept.

Just wrap your mind around that for a second.

How exactly does one win a war on terror?

Terror can be anywhere from anyone. Not from any one religion, one part of the world, or one country. It can come from anywhere at any time. All it takes is people terrorizing other people. So how do you go to war with that?

For as long as I can remember we've been at war with this abstract idea where you kind of know what's going on but not really then the government says we're winning but the body count says we're losing. And everybody's confused. Until this year when I developed such an interest for the Middle East and made it my business to know, I had no idea where our soldiers were or why they were even there. 

They're in Afghanistan, no it's Iraq, no no Pakistan for sure. And they're looking for the people who committed 9/11, but they were Saudi Arabian... Saudi Arabia is our ally aren't they? Well why aren't our troops there looking for them? No wait, they're looking for weapons of mass destruction, actually I don't think they found them, I think they're just doing humanitarian stuff actually. Just helping people just because. But Bin Laden is dead and there's no WMDs so why are troops still over there... did we win? 

Or are we just forever at war with Eastasia and Oceania? (a 1984 reference if you're having trouble keeping up)

Yeah we're a bit lost I'd say.

-xoxo

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