I’m A Millennial. Please Stop Being A Douche To Me.

Ok. If anyone out there is reading this who a) has a facebook or twitter account and b) is approximately 16-40 years old, you’ve probably stumbled upon this article recently.

I have a lot of friends who have posted it, most of whom I adore (sorry, Trev!) – but here’s the thing. On one hand: okay. Okay. I get it. Some of that shit is totally valid.

On the other: fuck you, guy.

In recent months, we’ve been subjected to a lot of vocal hand-wringing about this generation, not least of which was the Time Magazine article about the Millennial Generation. “They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional.”

Do I know folks in my age demographic who fit that description?  Yes. Oh, hell yes. Who doesn’t? Someone please explain the concept of the ‘selfie’ to me again.

Do I know grown-ass adults who fit that description? Again: Hell yes. Meet my grandfather. My grandmother has cooked his breakfast every day for the past 50 years of their marriage. I adore him, but looking at the man who can’t put his pants on in the morning unless he knows someone else is already making the coffee and eggs: you want to tell me what, exactly again about my generation being lazy and coddled?

This argument is infuriating for the same reason younger generations have always been infuriated by the old trope of “In my day, we walked to school uphill and barefoot in the snow.” It’s horseshit, and we know it.

Do I think I’m a magical, special unicorn snowflake, destined for greatness? Eh. Not particularly. Wanna know what formed that opinion? I survived high school, got straight A’s, and didn’t make it, unlike a small handful of my peers, into the Ivy Leagues of my dreams. (Look, not to be that guy, but: perfect SAT verbal score, active involvement in community service organizations, years of community theatre and church leadership, lifeguard and swim instructor, peer mentorship groups, wrote for the yearbook. Like, you know, everyone else who applied to college in 2004.)

Ok. I shook it off. Went to a great school. Was truly challenged intellectually for the first time in my life, surrounded by other kids with similar backgrounds, all of whom had worked their ass off for years, most of whom astounded me with their drive, ambition, and natural talent. Incredible teachers. Terrific mentors. I was outpaced by many of them, and it made me work harder. I wouldn’t change a thing.

And let’s be real about college. Was I occasionally found drinking Bud Light at a frat party on a Saturday night? Fuck, yeah. We all did. You know what else I did? Graduated with honors from a top liberal arts college. Worked my ass off at my part-time job. Spent hours upon hours building skills that would translate to my future career.

I graduated in 2008. Remember 2008? Oh, right. The housing market collapsed. Global stock markets plummeted. The Great Recession happened. I had $25,000 of student loan debt and a liberal arts degree in English and Theatre.

In other words: Oh, Hey, Real World. I’m Katherine. I’m HERE! What’s that, you say? We’re all kinda fucked? Oh. Okay. Neat.

I was one of the lucky ones. I was hired after graduation for a yearlong apprenticeship at a theatre company, a job in my field that I desperately craved. I was paid $375/week plus health insurance. This whole story is a longer post for the future (hell, it’s probably a book), but here’s how I can sum it up best. On my very first day, my boss, a woman I admire and respect beyond measure, welcomed us. She smiled at our eager young faces seated around a conference table, in our best “first day of the rest of our lives” outfits, and said, “Okay. Here’s the deal. You all come from college environments where you have been told that you are the best and the brightest, and there’s some truth to that. You beat out 300 other applicants for this job.  You get to be proud of that, for about four more seconds. Now welcome to the real world. No one here is going to pat you on the fanny and tell you when you do a good job. We’re going to call you out when you fuck it up instead. Got it? So – just don’t fuck it up, ever, and you’ll do just fine.”

It was harsh. It was also the best advice I’ve ever received.

I worked my ass off for that company for a year. Did I fuck it up sometimes? Yeah. Absolutely. I made tons of mistakes. You know what it taught me? How to grow up. How to take responsibility for my actions, especially when something was my fault, and even when it wasn’t. It taught me to budget my finances. It taught me how to slog through the worst days of demoralizing gruntwork. It taught me how to survive on peanut butter sandwiches.

And here’s where it gets really interesting. After that year ended, I pursued my dream job. Four years later, here’s the payoff: I am a fairly respected costume designer in the regional theatre market of the city of Philadelphia. I’m doing what I set out to do, and that feeling is incredible. I have received accolades from my peers, from national press, from whatever fucking internet publications care about what I do and want to nominate me for things. That’s fucking AWESOME. I love that I am my own boss, that I run my own small business, which is simply myself and my trusty sewing machine. I love that I pay my own health insurance and cell phone bill. I design 15 or more shows a year. I rarely have a day off. I dabble in graphic design on the side. I help run a small theatre company. I pick up odd jobs where I can find them. I mostly love it.

And here’s where it sucks: if I’m lucky, I can make about as much money as I did at that first job right out of college.

And here’s where it royally sucks: If I’m incredibly lucky, I can go back to grad school, accumulate more student debt, and pray that someone in my field with a cushy university job dies so I can take over their gig.

Because until that happens, the freelance thing is kind of my best option.

And while I’m still freelancing here, I’m never going to make more than 25 grand a year. I broke 21 last year – the best of my career so far – and my accountant just shook her head in depressive dismay at my shock and delight.

Wanna know where 25 grand a year gets me? Not all that far, once you factor in car payments and student loan payments and rent and groceries and insurance.

Okay, you say, but: you chose to pursue your dream job! You must have known it was going to be hard, forever and ever! You chose to smack the label of ‘artist’ on yourself; surely you must have anticipated some hardship!

Yeah. I sure did.

On one hand: Fuck yeah, I did. I’m a rebel artist warrior! I’m following my passions! I’m living my dreams!

On the other hand: What the fuck am I doing with my life?

And on still yet another hand: Okay. Then you tell me. If I’m never going to make enough to live comfortably and I’m willing to change that: you just point me towards the jobs I should be applying for instead.

I’m good at a lot of things. Those things aren’t STEM fields. I’m not good with numbers. I’m not good with science. I’m not good with technology or banking or computers or software engineering.

I’m a good designer. I’m a good teacher. I’ve recently discovered that I’m not a half-bad writer.

Which, I’m afraid to inform you as well as myself, simply aren’t skills that are prized at this particular time in American history.

Where does this leave me?

Fuck if I know.

On the whole, I’m happy.
On the whole, I like my life.
On the whole, I’m proud of my achievements and I’m going to keep going, because what the fuck else am I going to do.

And also:

I exist in a world in which I don’t understand what a 401K is all about.
Social Security will not likely exist by the time I will need it.
I will never have a pension.
I’ve never even filed for unemployment. Because as a freelancer, I’m never in one place long enough to qualify.

This is not unique to my job description.
This is unique to my generation.

I live in a world in which the teachers in the city of Philadelphia are on strike because their budget issues are so rampantly unresolved that they are returning to work without contracts, paper, or desks. I live in a world where we’re slashing budgets so that the kids of the next generation won’t know a childhood with art or music classes.

I’m a woman in a generation fighting insane battles for reproductive rights that we didn’t even know until recently that we needed to be fighting, because we had simply assumed that we had already won them.

I live in a world in which we have a black president and yet we say hateful racist shit on Twitter when an Indian-American woman takes the Miss America crown. I live in a world in which we give a fuck about Miley Cyrus.

I live in a world in which we perpetuate the unpaid intern system.

I live in a world in which, since 1979, the average American worker has seen a 75% increase in productivity, and yet wages remain flat.

I live in a world where the top 1% of earners have seen their income quadruple since that exact same year.

I live in a world that simply seems too crazy for me to handle some days. I live in a world that sometimes makes me simply want to hide under the covers and not come out until it’s fixed.

And here’s what’s super fucked up:

I live in a world in which I still believe there is hope for the future.

If I’m a special fucking unicorn, and everyone in my generation is a special fucking unicorn, then okay, we all are special fucking unicorns, and I know that’s an oxymoron, but I can’t help but think that just one of those special fucking unicorns is going to figure out how to fix this mess. One of those special fucking unicorns is going to cure cancer or become the next president or write the next great American novel, or figure out how to fix the fucked-up-ed-ness of everything my generation is currently dealing with.

And if you do, Special Fucking Unicorn I Have Yet To Meet, I sincerely salute you.

I might not have retirement savings, or even enough to cover next month’s rent, but you bet your ass I’m going to put some money aside and buy you a beer.

**
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198 thoughts on “I’m A Millennial. Please Stop Being A Douche To Me.

  1. While I’m outside the age bracket (born in ’69), there was a lot in this that made me go “Oh yeah, I hear ya!”

    Throw an international dimension into the mix and while yes, there have been times I’ve made ok money, I still have nothing for retirement, no pension, no property, no job security and I watched what little money I’d worked to hard to save up melt away as the rupee crashed.

    Today I go from project to project hoping something or the other will work out! And this is after nearly 30 years of work! (Yeah – 1st job at 15 does count!)

    Yet I really don’t have any serious complaints and actually feel damn lucky to be living life more or less on my own terms.

    So stick with it and hope that shiny unicorns prevail! 🙂

  2. It is so good to know that this is happening everywhere! And as some one only two years out of uni, and of course struggling to make it freelance in the theatre world I am happy with my small wins and they drive me to carry on! My friends on cushy grad schemes with good money and nice flats? They are the unhappiest people I know because they have no idea what they are doing with their life, or why they should try!

    Special unicorns? No no. Sad and worried and scared unicorns? Very possibly! xx

  3. Pingback: I’m A Millenial. Please Stop Being A Douche To Me. | tea in your twenties

  4. I read that TIME magazine article, you KF have penned the perfect retort.
    You are spot on in every word you have blogged.

    I think you are correct, many of you “special unicorns” ARE going to right the wrongs, cure the ills and make such huge differences, that those of us that trudged up Murray Street Hill, in snow up to our necks will be spinning in our platform shoes, mood rings and hot pants.

    Each generation has had to listen to the doomsayers and go forth and prosper.
    It’s natural to cast a whistful if not slightly embellished eye on our growing years.

    I do see our millenials as the future, hell, how else would I get my wireless printer to sync with my iPad and don’t even get me started on figuring out how to pIn recipe instructions onto Pinterest.

    I love all my millenials, you know who you are 😉

  5. I tend to have issues with these articles about generalised intergenerational differences, or “generational identity”. This is in part due to the fact that they rarely if ever cite any peer-reviewed scientific papers on the issues they are discussing, and also because the vast majority of them seem to pertain to life in America, which, although it is trickling over the Atlantic and corrupting us here in Europe, is largely very different to European life.

    It’s true that many of the so-called “millenials” have ridiculously high expectations which are not tempered by any true experience of the real world. However, it’s not just the 16-30 year old who suffer from things such as the erosion of long-term careers, the overreliance on raw figures as indications of productivity (I refer here to the insidious introduction of school league tables, which rely on standardised test scores and do not take into account that those data are PEOPLE, not numbers), and the rise of acceptable slave labour *ahem* sorry, “internship programs” – it’s everyone in the “job market” at present (and by Goddess I hate that term).

    Raising children to believe they were special or destined for greatness or that they could “be anything they desired” came about because their parents had grown up in the most economically vibrant time the world had ever known. They had solid careers, so why wouldn’t their kids? They bought a house at 18, so why couldn’t their kids? They enjoyed free education regardless of their background, so why couldn’t their kids? Put simply, it’s because once the boomers reached the top, they kicked the ladder away.

    That’s another uncited generalisation, of course, but a lot of the woes that younger people are facing in the work place (long hours for low pay, unpaid overtime, no domestic manufacturing base, forcing manually skilled but academically poor workers to seek employment in service industries which make no use of their talents whatsoever) stem from the economic reforms of Thatcher and Raegan in the 1980s. It is only now, after their death and long after their terms in office that the full impact of those short sighted policies are being realised.

    Until people realise that monetary wealth is second in value to “social wealth”, which by its nature is unquantifiable and therefore cannot be plugged into a spreadsheet to monitor productivity, the spiral will continue on down. Interestingly, there are parallels of this reliance on data to the old Soviet Union, where huge amounts of labour and unnecessary transporting of goods were employed in order to meet productivity targets which essentially meant nothing. (Crampton, R. J. (1997), Eastern Europe in the twentieth century and after).

    The introduction of The Internet has thrown a lot of the old models of doing business up in the air – many businesses have adapted readily to this, but a good portion (mostly in the recording industry) are desperately clinging on to the old way of doing things, which became largely irrelevant at the tail end of the 20th century. I don’t know how to fix it all, but I do know that the system is broken; continuing on with the broken system in the hope that things will return to the way they were in the latter half of the 20th century is folly. Building a new system is the only option, but it will be fraught with challenges, not least of which will be those people who are living well by the current system attempting to foil the creation of a fairer, more workable system.

    However, no generation lives forever. The people who eventually build this new system may be millenials, they may be a later generation. But the only way they will do it is by actually trying to make the changes. And to do that, I think they first need to discard the hopes and dreams they inherited from their parents, and replace them with something they have devised themselves.

    For the record, I grew up during the tail end of the Cold War – I don’t claim allegiance to any generational group, but I am a staunch advocate for change, and I generally have a socialist viewpoint when it comes to politics.

    And I’ve written a blog article in your comments box.

    Sorry.

    • That’s the best shit I’ve read in weeks. Anywhere.

      “The people who eventually build this new system may be millenials, they may be a later generation. But the only way they will do it is by actually trying to make the changes. And to do that, I think they first need to discard the hopes and dreams they inherited from their parents, and replace them with something they have devised themselves.

      For the record, I grew up during the tail end of the Cold War – I don’t claim allegiance to any generational group, but I am a staunch advocate for change, and I generally have a socialist viewpoint when it comes to politics.”

      Amen, fuck yeah or So Say We All…. whatever. This is the truth.
      C

    • ‘Until people realise that monetary wealth is second in value to “social wealth”’

      THIS RIGHT HERE. Thank you very much.

      Also thank you for pointing out that a world outside America exists. Funny thing is, we can’t choose the influences, and I see a lot of US-specific commentary seeping into my Eastern European world. It has little to do with reality, but it ends up altering it, because you know how they say- even a lie repeated a thousand times can become truth.

      Oddly enough, this post is relevant to me as well. That speaks well for it, I think.

    • Karl, I enjoyed reading your post and always respect anyone who lays it out on the table of where they stand instead of trying to achieve their goals through deceit – referencing your last paragraph.
      I see the world quite differently than you. While you see that change is needed, and it is with some things obviously, I see that what is needed is acceptance. I’m not talking about throwing in the proverbial towel and giving up but that accepting the world in which we live today is no different than it was 100 years ago, 500 years ago and even 1000 years ago.

      Man has always had to work to survive. Fortunately for us, we get to spend less time working for our personal survival – chopping wood for the wood burning heater sitting in the middle of the house, clearing land to raise a garden, etc – and use that time for leisure or working on personal projects. There have always been men who were leaders, who were achievers, going back thousands of years and men who were followers. There have always been men who were inventors, who were the great artists of their day and men who were happy putting in their eight hours and calling it a day. That’s just the way it is.

      My point is that as we evolve over time and have bigger and brighter toys, there has to be someone to do the work in building those toys. We thought the right answer 40 and 50 years ago was we could afford to pay a great living wage, have a cadillac pension plan with a cadillac health insurance plan and still pay the bills for the industry in which we worked. We have since found out it doesn’t work that way. We learned the industry could either afford to pay the benefits or the industry could invest in R&D to build better plants and have more efficient tools of the trade. We chose for better wages and benefits.

      Now we find ourselves working in antiquated work environments while the rest of the world chose to invest in tools of the trade. They can make things better and cheaper and also have the luxury of doing it independently of their government.

      There really isn’t a difference in corresponding via paper and pen and sent on the back of a donkey and sending an instantaneously email. So while a lot of people go with the notion that the world in which we live is entirely different from years gone by, I say it hasn’t. We simply choose to no longer accept what needs to be done to live and then complain when someone in another part of the world accepts to do it.

      R Jewell

  6. Three fucking cheers to this!! I make very little money, but I managed to get a job at my favorite bookshop right after graduation. My friends and I are all just squeaking by with the money we make – not in dire straights yet but also not managing to put much of anything into that mysterious dreamland which older people call a “retirement fund.” Every time a “proper grown up” wonders aloud why we’re not all just closing our eyes and pretending it’s the 1980s it’s all I can do to keep from kicking them in the knees until they pay me to stop. Hey, a lucrative position!

    I think we’d all be more miserable if we worked jobs we despised and therefore felt obliged to spend all of our income on things we don’t need, just to make ourselves feel better about being miserable for 40 hours a week. I know that if I were to go back to office work (what I did in my summers since I was 14) I would be spending every paycheque on books anyway just to make my life feel like less of a waste. This way, I’m surrounded by something I care about. I hope you are too.

    I love the advice that Theatre Lady gave you!! My dance teacher explained something similar when we were in high school, and I think it was probably the most important thing I learned in those entire four years.

  7. Millennials started Occupy. On average, Millennials are vastly more open and tolerant than my generation (tail end of the Baby Boomers). Millennials are also making some fine music.

    I Heart Millennials.

    🙂

  8. As a college grad who has spent the last three months filling out job applications and not getting any responses, not even courtesy “sorry, we’ve gone with another applicant” emails, (except from that one place that was *just this close* to being a scam), I understand this completely. I am lucky to have a wonderful loving boyfriend who happened to get a job right out of school. He accepted his job offer before he got his diploma. You know what his degree is in? Electrical and computer engineering. I live every day feeling like crap because I can’t get a job but here he is walking around with a very cushy job and even a 401k and I can’t even get a response to an application.

    Sometimes it isn’t our fault. Sure we complain but I guarantee you that I complain less than my elders because I know the shitty hand I’ve been dealt and I deal with it (I was in my second year of my degree in 2008). I live in a city where the main industry was construction…until 2008. There are more people with degrees fighting for jobs at McDonald’s than people without degrees and the shitty thing is that they all need that job. I’m lucky enough to be in a situation where I don’t have to worry about money and rent and food and things like that but in the process, I’ve become a housewife without the ring while my liberal arts degree sits in an unpacked box being more useful gathering dust than what I can do with it.

    I used to be idealistic and think that I would never have an office job because I’ve seen my parents suffer for years with office jobs they hate and has caused them sedentary lives and major health problems (heart attack from job related stress, anyone?) but now I would gladly take that job if it existed. But it just doesn’t. At least not around here it doesn’t.

  9. Hell yes! All of it. Hilariously enough, as a Gen-Xer, I’ve seen the same thing said about every generation to come along, including my own. Your point about your grandfather: amen. Crochety Olds (and occasionally I can count myself among them, though not in regard to this bullshit) love to call out younger folks for not working hard enough, or for thinking they’re special when they’re not. I think something happens to your eyesight when you pass A Certain Age that makes smooth skin look drenched in booze and privilege.

    Small point: the Philly teachers are not on strike. They legally can’t strike. Thank you, PA GOP.

    The other thing I’ve noticed about the broad brush with which “generations” are painted is that they inevitably, across the board, ignore those for whom a college education of any kind is a pipe dream, for whom food service jobs take the place of soccer and ballet practice, for whom the only thing they’ve been “handed” is prejudice and and poverty and parole. And their numbers are growing, exponentially, even as the middle class shrivels like a slug in salt.

    So, I am absolutely inspired that in the face of all this bullshit you have inherited from previous pompous generations, you are doing work you love, and rising above the sacrifices and challenges to make it a living. Rock out with your bad self. (Kids used to say that back in the 90s, I think.)

  10. What really gets me is the nerve of baby boomers to call us ‘self-centered’ when they essentially bankrupted this country. Let me tell you, I am really psyched to be paying social security knowing I won’t see a dime of it when it comes time for me to retire. Thanks a lot, hypocrites.

    • FYI, Neither Franklin D. Roosevelt (New Deal) nor Lyndon Johnson (The Great Society) were “Baby Boomers”-but the burden of payment for these government programs were placed squarely on the shoulders of the Baby Boomers. Most Boomers will not benefit from Social Security, and few are counting on SS or on Medicare.

      • You are incorrect on a few different points.

        Michael Astrue, past commissioner of the Social Security Administration, said payouts will not exceed collections until 2030ish. Boomers also had a pretty sweet deal – paying only 6.5% of their earnings to Social Security until 1990, while later generations had to pay 12.4% their entire lives.

        The short story is that boomers have paid less into Social Security than later generations, yet they’ll receive more benefits.

        While we’re at it, let’s tack on a vastly diminished manufacturing workforce, one of the largest increases in entitlement spending in US history during the 1970s and 80s, and an explosion in income inequality.

        • SSI Payments exceeded collections in 2010 per SSA.gov. :
          http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/chartbooks/fast_facts/2013/fast_facts13.html#page35
          Trust fund reserves have covered the shortfall since 2010; 2033 is the projected date for the depletion of fund reserves and the point when taxes (on both payroll and SSI benefits) will cover only 75% of program costs. In 1990, Boomers ranged in age from 26-44 in 1990, so for many, the bulk of wage earning years were taxed at the higher rate.
          The program architects did not foresee the ever increasing longevity of our population, the falling birth rates of the wage earning population, or an explosion in immigration. The globalization of our economy sent manufacturing overseas, defined pension benefits are long gone for most, and some retirees with defined benefit plans are finding reduced or rescinded benefits.
          So, what is your plan for fixing this mess, besides blaming “Boomers”?

        • You’ve been corrected on one point already about SS taking in less nowadays than it pays out. The other point is that SS taxes were at roughly 2.2% of an employees paycheck up until the mid 80’s. It was under Reagan that the social security tax increased to 6.2%. It seems I have read in the past that FDR predicted social security would go bankrupt by around 1980 as it was written under him. As someone else mentioned, these programs were not written by baby boomers. I think if you want to blame the boomers for anything, blame them for negotiating the middle class workforce into bankrupting multiple industries in the private sector.

  11. I loved you article, but I also loved the one you refer to. I might have been multitasking too much whilst reading both, but I feel identified with both.
    I was told I was a Special Unicorn and I crashed with the system as I graduated, like you, in 2008 (very fancy arty school in the UK).
    It made me angry and resentful, and after day jobs, MA degrees (Spain still had scholarships that made it free for me) and unpaid internships I landed a job with a very fancy title, no legal contract and made 600 euros a month (that was 2011).
    So i was still pissed.
    i took part in the Spanish Occupy (indignados), and saw how it all ended anticlimactically and leaded to not as much as we thought.
    But I also learnt that if we wanted, we could take our unicorn glitter and re-focus it, not into getting fab-ass jobs at Apple or Google (nothing wrong with that, btw), but by working together in inventing tomorrow. That’s a huge luxury and a huge responsibility and insane amounts of work.
    But not many generations have been globally connected with a system crumbling at their feet. It’s our turn to build a world, Unicorns. And I’d rather have us doing it than the generations that have destroyed it.

    http://www.mariagilulldemolins.com/welcome-to-your-future/

  12. Hey Fritz! As a boomer and an aging hippie, there is so very much I like about Millenials. When I went down to Occupy Philly to make a donation (too old to camp out anymore!) the incredibly hip, very bright, and hugely interesting young people I met really knocked my socks off! Fritz, hang in there. My generation will be retiring in the next 5 or so years, and ALL those jobs will be taken by your generation. I, for one, am happy for that. Keep the faith dear sweet Fritzi.

    And,

  13. The only umbrage I take with your post is in the title — get used to people being douches to you, irrespective of your generation, occupation, social class, writing abilities, gender, sexual identity, family background or degree to which you give a fuck. Most of the outspoken people are kind of douchey. Keep up the good work, and be happy you’re generally happy. It’s more than most.

  14. I could have not said this better myself. Bravo! Fucking Bravo!

    It is comparing apples to oranges. The world is a different place then it was 50 years ago. Hell, it is vastly different than 10 or 15 years ago. We live, we learn, we adapt. We will make it, but our future will be different than the futures were of our parents, and our grandparents. Perhaps if people started encouraging our generation, more of us could get shit done.

  15. K – I started following you, oh I guess about a month ago and at this point I’m pretty well convinced that we are in some form rainbow-shitting soul mates. Thanks for being as awesomely special as me.

  16. Great article Katherine! I read it from a cultural lens – I had a similar experience growing up as a Hispanic female born in the ’80s (and graduated HC ’06). However, my family was quick to point out that while we can do whatever we want, we had to work our assess off and not expect a handout from anyone. “We” are not, in fact, special. The option to choose creative arts was actually not an option and I would have been ostracized if I had chosen to major in the arts (I minored in Studio Art but majored in Sociology). I wish I had the courage to do a lot of things ie. freelance, start my own business, be more ballsy with my career and do things with more passion (NOT that I am not, hence why I am accruing debt to get my MSW while I work f/t). But in the end, my passion is not going to pay my mortgage and my bills.

  17. You are a good writer, K. How do I know? I read your blog and went cycling for an hour and your article is all I could think of during my ride. Kinda like a song you can’t get out of your head.

    I do agree with some of the stuff that the guy has in his article. I am a late baby boomer (51 yrs old now) and can relate to not expecting anything. I was taught that I had to work really hard and then things MAY fall into place but it is not guaranteed. It does not mean that I did not dream or visualize being successful, but I did not expect it. If it happened, it would just be icing on the cake. Luckily for me, it worked out. I worked really hard for others for about 20 years, then started my own business, then after 10 more years I sold it and retired early at 50 years old. I had that goal from early on but never expected it to actually happen just because I was dreaming of it..

    In my experience, his formula for happiness is too simplistic. To be happy, you must have good relationships, enough money where you are not scraping by (not necessarily being rich, just enough to reduce stress of money), work that turns you on, and doing things that you find fun and fulfilling.

    I admire that you went the artistic route and I am sure you knew that it might mean struggling a bit. It was not until about 5 years into building my business that I discovered that I had to work equally as much ON my business as IN my business. Once I discovered that, I spent as much time marketing and selling as I did leading and creating. It made a huge difference. You already have several awards and nominations, you just need to find a way to turn that into future higher paying projects. A good project leads to a better project that leads to an incredible project. Before long you will be working on nothing but great paying incredible projects and the money issue goes away.

    The final piece of unsolicited advice I would add is to do what you are great at and don’t spread yourself thin being a jack of all trades. If you are great at freelancing, forget the graphic design and other things because it could be keeping you from really breaking through because of the lack of focus.

    You did not ask for any advice but I give it because I have stood in similar shoes as yours. Best of luck and keep writing — you are great at it!

    Steve Miller, http://www.WeBeTripping.com

  18. Let’s not forget the fact that an article describing the attitudes of people from an age range as wide as 16 to fucking 40 cannot be taken seriously…there is no way that being born in 1983, I have the same perception of the world as someone born in 1997, or someone born in 1973. The world has changed like crazy in those years.

    Hell, I was born under martial law in a socialist country- my little sister, who is apparently in the same generation (?!) was born in the sugarcoated freedom of democracy and capitalism. Our formative years were nothing alike.

    Anyway. I love your article.

    The part where you started talking about how little your current, successful position earns you really resonated with me. As did the part where you ask what else you can possibly do. I want to add: WHY THE HELL SHOULD YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE???

    To satisfy some hater’s idea of what a ‘real job’ means?

    I’m exactly that freelancer, except just a bit less successful (still). I’m 30, and you could call me a total loser- I have very little savings, a small, but constant debt, I live in an apartment belonging to my parents, I don’t even own a television set. I have to think every larger purchase through- I can’t even fathom buying an iPhone, for instance, and everyone seems to have one of those nowadays. But…this is the price I pay for doing things I love, and not being tied down to a job that keeps me from pursuing my passions. This is the price I pay for living (i.e. struggling through) my dream.

    Does that sound so bad?

    But every day I have to see people offline and online mocking people like me for choosing a throwaway degree, for being idiots because we want to do art, because we went for literature and cinema instead of finances and marketing. We’re so stupid, what did we expect? Lol forever at the people studying medieval poetry or botanical illustration or going, like I did, into animation, but not opting for 3D CGI. What idiots we are, doing something that isn’t the most direct route to a nice car, nice tv, house with a pool!

    Fuck that. What are we saying here, we want a world full of IT specialists and economists*, because those are the only jobs that pay? Really?

    And at the end of their hardworking day, where are these people going to go for entertainment? To feed their souls? Because as we’ve established, culture is useless as it doesn’t make money. Art is stupid, because it doesn’t give you job security.

    I’m in a country where education is free. I am in awe (and horror) when thinking about my overseas friends who do this with tens of thousands of dollars of debt (by the way, people online also love to mock free education as completely worthless, as if sinking a lifetime of debt into a college guaranteed you anything…)

    So, as they used to say before our time, when the world was right and people were…oh, no, wait, 1970 is apparently still special snowflake millenial. Well, anyway: HANG IN THERE BABY!

    *with all due respect to those professions. They are necessary and good, they’re just not the only thing we need.

    • Don’t think for once that you’ll make money in the IT field. What was a progressive movement of technology jobs 10, 15, even 20 years ago has died down and lost steam. You are able to do more with less and companies are being absorbed and combined left and right. The big technology today is “Cloud Computing” where businesses have been steadily moving their infrastructure to data-centers, thus removing the need for onsite or remote IT support. Also if you’ll notice, technology is getting more affordable and more “replaceable.” In many instances it is cheaper to replace the part than to troubleshoot.

      The above is just a PART of the issue with this particular field. Coming down from the Technology boom, there is a surplus of IT professionals looking for employment. This hurts new AND old generations. My mother’s boyfriend (who is 49) Is certified in at least 8 different IT specialties, fluent in several coding languages and database structures, and worked for some of the biggest IT companies. He lost his job 4 times from mergers and this last time they got rid of his whole branch. Now he’s 5 months without a job and has pretty much searched through every city in the state to no avail. Problem is that he is too good at his job and a company would have to pay for his expertise.

      I however am still in the IT field working for a small to midsize IT and network support firm. I never finished college though could finish with maybe a year more. But in truth, the only reason I would ever get that piece of paper is to satisfy the ideals of an archaic system. College degrees should not be mandatory for businesses in many of today’s fields and it’s a constant drawback to being in mine. Most businesses ask for it when it is not necessary. For one, all that means is that you can sit in a box with 10-50 other people for x amount of hours every day and regurgitate information back at them. Not saying academics aren’t important, but if you want to see my test taking abilities, let me show you my certifications and let you talk to my past customers. The real test is recovering a year’s worth of lost accounting information.

      Companies these days are under the mindset that saving money is keen. They cut corners or hire the lesser of the two candidates in order to save on overhead. Why get quality when Americans (maybe other countries as well) have become so numb to quality and just “deal” with it. It isn’t a generation problem, it’s an apathy problem. It wasn’t from the baby boomers or the generation before, nor is it this generation. Sadly it is the fact that not all humans care about humanity and only for themselves “Survival of the fittest” right?

      And now with corruption leading as far back as humanity has existed we find ourselves at the point of every great civilization. We have let ourselves get wounded and let it fester for far too long.

  19. I appreciated your response to the article, which was deserving of a massive slapdown. The article itself was childish and I really don’t need marker drawings to get a point. I’m not a millennial – instead, a Gen-Xer who had to read stupid shit about what a bunch of lazy, materialist slackers we were. Every generation does this to the new one. Best to ignore it and get on with the business of being human – complex, heterogeneous and doing the best we can under the circumstances we were born into.

  20. You keep writin’ like you do an someone’s gonna discover you one day girl, you have the gift…wish I had an inkling of how to get you discovered. God’s luck anyway. REDdog

  21. Hahahaha, the fact that you have a blog and think people care about what you think makes you precisely one of those rainbow shitting unicorns. No one cares that you struggled. Really, no one but you. Stop writing about it. The irony is truly amusing.

    • And the fact that YOU took the time to read and reply to this blog TOTALLY shows your complete apathy. Really.

      Oh, and the fact that you felt the need to express your opinion shows that apparently YOU think that people care about what YOU think. How’s that for irony?

      You didn’t have to read this blog, you know. Nobody made you. I, on the other hand, DID choose to read this blog, because *I* happen to think that this woman has worthwhile thoughts. What’s that? Somebody out there cares about what this blogger has to say? Hunh, that kind of invalidates your argument, doesn’t it?

      Unless you have any criticism of real content, I suggest you take your malicious bullying elsewhere. Nobody likes an asshole.

      • Whaaaaaaa, whaaaaaa! Stop bullying me. Hahah, please. You’re right, I am completely apathetic towards complainers who expect their careers served on a silver fucking platter. Get over yourselves.
        And to be clear, I read this because one of my turd co-worker millenials posted this to their FB. I commented because someone had to say the truth. Quityerbitchin, get a job, any job. That was the point of the original article. You don’t “deserve” everything you want…you earn it.

        • I’m not sure you understand what “apathetic” means. Apathy, according to the OED, means “unemotional; indifferent to what is calculated to move the feelings or excite attention.” You seem to have some emotion there… I think the word you’re looking for is “antagonistic.”

          And, uh, at WHAT point, exactly, did Katherine say in article that she expected to have her career served on a silver platter? Because the article I read cites the hard work Katherine did – and expected to do, and was grateful for. I see no presumptuous attitude there. Could you please quote which line refers to her expecting to be served on a silver platter?

          Also, you’ve apparently made the assumption that I and those who agreed with my reply to your original comment don’t have a job. How, exactly, do you know that? Because, well, you’re wrong about me, at least. I have a job. Several, in fact. And oh yeah, as a freelancer who has to bid against dozens of other applicants, I think I’m safe in saying that I’ve earned those jobs.

          I’d also like to point out that what I and my fellow commenters have been doing isn’t “bitchin” – it’s retorting. Defending, even. I do believe it was somebody else who wrote the original “bitchin” comment that we’re all trying to smack some humility into…

        • If your “turd millennial co-worker” posted the article, clearly he or she is employed. So you obviously don’t think that the problem with millennials is that they need to “get a job, any job,” or you wouldn’t have such disdain for your co-worker.

  22. Pingback: Special Fucking Unicorns | The Theasaurus Rex

  23. “I don’t have lucrative job skills because I incurred massive student debt for a education track that pays below the poverty line. Woe is me!”

  24. I’ve nothing else to say but thank you! So glad to know I am not alone! PS: do you need an actor to star on one or your beautiful sets? Hahahah… best of luck!

  25. “They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional.”

    Some think the younger generations are this? The idea that an economy based on unchecked consumption and unregulated capitalism would be at all sustainable in the long term is narcissistic and delusional. The idea that people who’ve had to fight for survival every day against healthcare denial, high costs of living and education coupled with low pay, and the constant threat of discrimination and hate crime are in any way lazy or coddled is even more delusional.

    If anything the “millennial” generation is humanity’s only hope for survival as a species.

  26. Totally appreciate your rebuttal to the flood of anti-millennial articles out there. They’re definitely getting old, especially coming from Boomers, who can’t seem to admit that they fucked up everything. The whole trend has a creepy “blame the victim” sort of vibe: “oh, stop complaining about injustice, you twenty-somethings are so entitled.” I do want to defend Joel Stein’s Time magazine article though, because it is often misconstrued as negative, when in fact if you read the article (and understand that Stein is a comedic writer) it is actually quite balanced and somewhat critical of the caricature of our generation as just the “me, me, me” generation. Stein pretty much comes to the conclusion that every generation is defined by both negative and positive qualities, and that millennials have many qualities that will solve the challenges we’re facing today. Unfortunately, you have to read through a page or two of bullshit to get to his “however” moment, and I think a lot of people get fed up and stop reading before that.

  27. so you got straight A’s, graduated from a great college as an ENGLISH major, and the most frequently used adjective used is the word “fucking.” come onnnnnn.

    • I agree, this bothers me with most young writers. Fuck should only be used within quotation marks, or as a verb if you’re being pornographic, It is not an adjective, at least not in written prose.

  28. I’ll be as succinct as possible. This is nice read but I think it’s important that people remember “No one person is representative of the whole”.

    You have no idea how many times I’ve told people get off their duff do something about their situation but they blatantly tell me that all they want is to apply for a job and get it in the field they went to school for. Quite frankly, that’s not enough anymore. People need to adjust to that. We’re kind of the BYOJ (Build Your Own Job) generation. Even when I did land a job (for which I was over qualified and coming into a terrible situation), I made damn sure that I overachieved and was able to use it as two steps forward for my next thing.

    I get that I’m an edge case. I didn’t end up at any frat parties – I had a camera in my hands and was out until 2am filming an ambitious feature film, working on video game (making, not playing), and adding skills. Out of college, it took 4 months for me to find a job in my field (video games) making $12/hr. I drove 110 miles/day to and from it (which took 4 hours because of traffic) and after gas, I made about $6.50/hr plus didn’t have health insurance. Ultimately, I found a job at an Ivy (the irony is that I could never have actually gotten into one) doing what I did as a hobby (video). I made my irreplaceable (I know this because it’s been 7 months since I left and they haven’t found anyone to replace me) and now I’ve changed coasts to make more money and work on space exploration (again doing video, but also utilizing 110% of my other skills).

    Here’s the takeaways from my own personal experience:
    – You’re not special by default. It takes hard work to be exceptional. You have to combine skills in a way that is difficult to find and use passion to get there.
    – Not everyone has passion. A sad truth. These people are going to complain about it and they’re easy to sniff out because somehow things are never their fault.
    – That leads me into: admit your faults. Admitting and owning your faults is the only way to get past them. I’m bad with people. I’m an introvert. Nothing scares me more in life their heights and someone telling to “mingle” – whatever the hell that is.
    – You’re job is YOUR job, so own it but don’t ever stop looking for new opportunities. When you land a job that is even the least bit comfortable, that’s your chance to look for something new that checks more of the boxes in your bucket list. When you find a job, your work isn’t done, it’s only begun.
    – Everyone’s story is different and luck is a factor. Sometimes people get lucky genes, lucky breaks, and sometimes people just have luck. However, when you start to find yourself working with exceptional people, listen to their stories. I work with a high school dropout that after seeing a friend die from a drug overdose, decided to change his life. He went school, took things incredibly seriously, and now he’s make six figures and working on something he’s emotionally vested in.
    – There is no blueprint. BYOJ. Make yourself unique. School prepares you for… being just like everyone else. It’s time to change that.

    A couple side notes:
    You should learn what a 401K is. I think we’ve both learned by now that ignorance is not an excuse.
    Admitting that you’re not good with computers is a good step towards fixing that. You don’t have be a computer genius, but correcting something in yourself that seems like a fault makes you infinitely more attractive to employers.
    Most modern employers don’t wait until they have dire needs. Find someone you want to work for and show them why you want to work for them. Don’t tell them why, show them. Build them something that they can use – that makes them think “this person is so passionate about what we do and so talented, that we can’t let him/her walk away”. THAT’S how you BYOJ in this economy.

    I guess that wasn’t succinct at all.

    • Lots of good advice in your post. However…

      As someone who has built her own job, I have to say there’s only one problem with this plan: there’s only room for so many ‘special’ people. And when trying to get through the door with your unique and amazing plan, it’s down to luck as much as it is to hard work. For every person that manages to enchant a company into hiring her or contracting her because she’s unique and passionate, a hundred others don’t even get a chance to try and explain why they’re so amazing.

      I have a very good friend who’s in this situation right now. He’s looking for a job, but until he gets an actual interview instead of being forced to go through the resume process, his chances are low. He’s amazing- but no one wants to hear him out. Why should they? He could be one of a hundred not-so-amazing people who try to fake their way without being qualified. And if he’s overqualified, he’ll need a bigger paycheck…

      If he wants to build his own job, like I did…well…I was desperate, and struggled for a good three years before my project took off. Even now I’m barely breaking even, and already copycats are popping up with the same concept. And they’re leaping right ahead of me. Some of them are better at getting grants and funds than I am. Most of them are cheaper than I am- because they’re content to skimp on quality. I was low-quality early on, too, because I couldn’t afford the right equipment. I had to collect it over the years. At first, I faked it- I was the only one doing what I was doing, so nobody had expectations. But now I refuse to go back to working for peanuts and half-assing.

      So, now, will I get ousted from the niche I created by newcomers who are cheaper and have more resources? There’s a risk, but I don’t have a monopoly on this, no one does. And if that happens, what shall I do? Build another job, starting from scratch again?

      I suppose so. Actually, I’m working on building one now, again accruing debt while I try to turn my passion into financial success. But I wouldn’t dare suggest to all of my unemployed friends that it’s what they should be doing. There’s just no room for everyone to swing that. There’s not enough good luck to go around. And most people just can’t afford to spend their time and their money building their own job when they’ve got bills to pay and kids who need to eat today, tomorrow, and every day after that.

      • Thanks Madzia!

        I get what you’re saying but unfortunately, I’ve found that 99% of people don’t want to put in the work you have. That means there is plenty of room. In a perfect world, you’d be 100% correct (but in a perfect world I guess we would have this problem anyways).

        I know that this doesn’t work in all fields, but your friend should pick 3 companies he wants to work for. Going down the list, pick a project he could start TODAY that would impact that company then give it to them – for free.

        When I was looking for a job, I created a quick 10 minute presentation on what a company I loved could be doing better in their video production workflow to attract more viewers. I sent it to the CEO (most small companies are firstname@company.com) and within a couple hours I had an email response and a job offer. I didn’t take it because it was in a city I hated but the point stands. There are lots of ways to be exceptional. Sometimes exceptional is just exceptionally persistent.

        If I were you, I would just keep innovating. Art and technology are so closely related. I don’t envy artists (even though some of what I do is considered art, I am not an artist) because it’s hard and it’s always under-appreciated. Copycats will always be there. Mickey Mouse was a copy cat of another mouse-like character created by Walt Disney for another production and that character was created just because animated cats were becoming passe. (facepalm)

        Look objectively at your competition and take down as much data as you can. What are they doing differently? Get actual statistics if you can. Learn from it so the next time, you see it coming and are two steps ahead.

        Also remember – what most of the smartest entrepreneurs have said is that secrecy isn’t important when you have a new idea because in addition to a head-start you’re the most motivated person in the world to see it through to success.

    • Nick, you’re dead on the money. this was inspiring to read. I’ve had to propel myself to where I wanted to be career-wise and yours is the kind of advice I would give anyone since I seem to have done the same things. Always striving to reinvent myself/ skillset to keep current. Best of luck to you. I hope your post is read by those who need it.

    • Your friend the high school dropout is one of the very lucky ones–that rarely, rarely happens. Exceptional people are just that: exceptional, as in, the exception to the norm. There are people all over this country who are busting their asses so hard that, even IF they have the money, they don’t have time to take classes to earn “marketable skills” or “qualifications”. They’re too busy trapped in dead-end slave-wage jobs to “build their own.” Those that don’t have the privilege of being born white (or of color with passing privileges), middle class, and able to go even to a decent high-school, let alone college. It is a truly unconscionable to hold up the people who achieve the extremely unlikely as the norm of possibility, and hold up everyone who can’t achieve those things as people who just didn’t pull hard enough on their bootstraps, so screw them, they get what they deserve.

  29. Each generation thinks the one following is undisciplined or spoiled; and the younger generation thinks the one before them are old-fashioned, uptight fools who are responsible for all the wrongs of the world. I am of the Baby Boomer era, many of whom became part of the hippie movement. “Never trust anyone over 30” was the mantra that was shared on the college campus, while attending classes which were paid for by their parents, people who had lived through the depression and wanted more for their children.

    Consider this quote: “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” This is attributed to Socrates.

    There is nothing new under the sun.

  30. Do you wonder if maybe the Huff Post article was maybe a satire? I talked about the same situation on my blog, but also wondered if the article was a spoof or a troll.
    The sentiments are still the same.

  31. I tried to comment this a second ago, but I don’t know if it went through because it made me sign into a wordpress i had to use for school:

    Do you wonder if the Huff Post article is a satire or a spoof? The sentiments in it are what the boomers and g.i.’s say, but it just seemed a bit too much to be legitimate.

    I talked about it on my real blog (officialmeelace.blogspot.com) as well as my feelings on the issue, but I’m still wondering.

  32. Reblogged this on bopeepflower and commented:
    Love this. Sometimes you can work hard and still have a hard time. This is also why I hate that “Girls” has come to represent Millennials. It’s just one perspective but it seems to have characterized all of us as being lazy pseudo-intellectuals when most of us are just working hard to make it day to day as recent grads in this economy.

  33. I’m a 53 year old white male heterosexual and I believe our country’s best years are ahead of us because of the Millennial Generation. The Baby Boomer Generation, including myself, have to die off first… Or at least retire.

  34. I like your post. I’m a Gen X…born 73, turned 40 this year. Job stability and pension plans were long gone by the time I arrived on the scene. So I feel you!
    I had to switch jobs a lot, I had to do side jobs a lot, I started a few businesses, I jumped back in a took a job, I worked nights, I worked jobs I hated, I worked freelance, etc. I went to community college on my own dime, didn’t borrow money, didn’t have a lot of parental help. I was kinda pissed at the time, but I do understand it was formative and I’m happy with how it went today.
    It never really “happened” for me as I worked and struggled- – no one ever “gave” me the job of my dreams, I invented it much later, after working around enough to know how life worked…. Just like you. I wanted to be a theater major but didn’t do it for practical reasons – I knew I needed to support myself. I majored in business and turned to sales later to create non-hourly/linear income (risk/reward) I valued the idea of making it on my own, even though it was hard. I think THAT change in reality that your generation sees clearly…CAN be misinterpreted by people my age as they look at todays 20 somethings – – they (the older folks) don’t realize, or admit to themselves, that what I did CAN NOT really be done today. The world has just changed – and to be frank, young people are not given chances to make money, they are often used as interns and discarded.

    My advice to anyone in their teens? Get a practical skill that’s in demand – – like being a carpenter, plumber, or electrician. TAKE VO-TECH CLASSES in high school not JUST college prep.. Get THAT gig going in your early years – – WHILE you also pursue your dream activity, at first on the side…then as time goes by and you can secure a MODEST place to live that you own and have no more payments on….pursue the dream full time.
    Avoid debt for general education or studies and borrowing for living expenses at all costs. Go to community college if the two other choices are borrow to go to a 4 year school or not go at first. DEBT IS SLAVERY. Owning where you live is Freedom – the quicker you OWN a place to live, the quicker you get off the monthly steady income/outgoing $$ trap that everyone sees as normal.. People with free places to live can work lightly to support what they consume. People who rent or have mortgages have to make those payments..no matter what. That’s slavery! I’d rather have a trailer I own, than an apartment I rent.

    I thought the article WAS right on in terms of explaining the discontent.(to an older crowd who doesn’t understand) It does seem to me the WWII generation raised their kids to EXPECT harsh times ahead…so the baby boomers were surprised at how much better life was than advertised. The Y’s and Millennials were told to pursue their passion and rock their specialness (and that the parents have your back) and to expect great things – – and while things don’t TOTALLY suck (I mean, most have money for heat, beer, and are pursuing a life they love…and shunning “working in an office they hate” )- – they are not pleased with the reality vs. the expectations set by the parents. That part of the article DID make sense to me.

    your post, in response, was heartening. I felt a kindred spirit, and appreciated your awareness that things are going to be hard and that you’re making choices that you are proud of. It’s great and should be widely spread. You’re building generational bridges here, as I hoped to with this response. 🙂

    Cheers from the 40-set. I just got here in July. It’s weird. I still feel 25.

  35. I too am a theatrical costume designer who graduated from undergrad just a year before you, I am massively in debt from grad school, and I too am so tired of people complaining about how our generation is spoiled. I totally fee ya’ sister. Can we be best friends?

  36. Pingback: We are the lucky ones | Flygirl Em and her Sidekick, Cat

  37. Stop you’re bitching, the times they are a changing, if you’re not creating or developing a new area, you deserve what you got. I dropped out of college and have made 40k in a year before my 23rd birthday. Don’t tell me there’s no money to be made, but the old models are over and done for, we must create the new ones, and your schooling is based on the system needing structural renovation, possibly including the human species itself. The are no guarantees; what are you doing to further evolution?

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