Long time no post, I shall begin this article by stating the following: my life is going pretty well, it truly is, I’m happy, and although this article won’t “exude” such happiness, I must state that things could be and have been a lot worse in my life and this is merely more of a generational vent, or sense of anguish than it is anything else. However, I am writing from personal experience and can relate 100% to everything you are about to read.
If you haven’t already notice by my witty sarcasm, cynicism about romance, and my article on the spice girls… I’m a millennial. Which means I’m one of those people who has to read those stupid articles directed towards me and my peers (mostly written by Gen-xer’s, rolls-eyes) about everything we are doing wrong, and how we are the most pathetic, lazy, uncommitted, and possibly the worst generation that has ever existed. We get made fun of for our eating choices, they call us hipsters, they keep trying to figure out how to change the workplace for us, what makes us “tick” but never actually give us a serious job. I mean, I can see where they’re going with that, the baby boomers had The Beatles and Woodstock, gen-x had all those good 80s movies, great music, other reasonably noticeable things… and we have social media, apps, and re-do’s and remakes of just about everything. But I feel compelled to write about something that has perhaps been bothering me since high school, I have a vendetta to resolve with society, and every poorly written, poorly analyzed, and completely horrific thing written about millennials. As a millennial I feel a humanistic need to stand up for myself and everyone else and yell at something or someone concerning the truth about what is truly going on. Our true struggle, and our true fears matter. I speak for myself and a lot of people when I say this -things have not been easy or fun for us, things have overall sucked.
“I had a burning urge to finish school because as a creative, the only thing on my mind was to design and create, I wanted nothing to do with algebra and trigonometry, and everything to do with sketching and pattern drafting.”
I grew up in the United States for most of my life, and since I was a kid I was taught the importance of studies, something which I carry with myself till this day. I was always told by parents, by teachers, by everyone, that studying would give you the results to everything you ever wanted in life. But mainly, to this allusive “stability” that meant everything from a house, a car, food, relationships, and possibly a golden labrador retriever and an american flag hanging from your garage door. Of course, I wanted more out of life, but stability was definitely something I wanted attached with it. I had a burning urge to finish school because as a creative, the only thing on my mind was to design and create, I wanted nothing to do with algebra and trigonometry, and everything to do with sketching and pattern drafting. I graduated from high school at the tender age of 16, and immediately began college at 17. While I was in college I was constantly daydreaming of the day I would own my own boutique, the day I would see my designs on runways and in department stores, the day my illustrations would grace the pages of my favourite fashion magazines, and of the numerous amounts of opportunities I would receive once I graduated.
“I was so positive and secure in my future, but the closer I was to finishing, the more I became concerned for the future I had always envisioned.”
I worked hard in college, and when I mean hard, I mean I had no other life but to study. Unlike my peers who enjoyed many parties, and drinking nights, all I did was study. I made some friends, but most of them were study buddies. I was dedicated and borderline insane with my studies, and my perfect “A’s” showcased my work immaculately (I was very proud). I was so positive and secure in my future, but the closer I was to finishing, the more I became concerned for the future I had always envisioned. You see as I was advancing in my studies, simultaneously the housing market in the U.S. was crashing. The jobs of my parents were endangered, our home was endangered, I began to hear words I hadn’t heard before, words like: “foreclosure” and “debt”. I realized that I couldn’t only concentrate on my studies, but also on how we would survive in this new economy which wasn’t favouring anyone. By the time I graduated, my father had moved to another state to chase an ever diminishing job market. Our house was in danger (ultimately lost), and the career services department at my university which had years prior given us the pep-talk of the century, was quickly turning us down and sending us to retail jobs. Retail? I thought: how am I supposed to pay for over 60k in student loans with a retail job? What about designer positions, what about fashion buying? What about magazine editing, and illustration? What happened to the “many branches” of fashion design and merchandising? What about the average starting salary of 60k a year? I had two majors, and suddenly nothing to do with them. I graduated magna cum laude, with honours, and no job prospects. We moved to a southern state with my dad, and I began to work as a manager at a store. I thought to myself: “This is just for now, probably a few months, until you hear back from New York, or London, or Paris of course.” I knew with great certainty that it was just a temporary situation and that things would get better for my family, and also for me. However, I quickly learned that wasn’t the case. It was like playing one of those Mario video games where you kept bumping into that mushroom and getting smaller and smaller. Just like that, my hopes began to disappear. I found a job at a small local boutique after 8 months of looking and the last thing anyone considered or cared about was that I had studied design. A lady once asked me what kind of “freak” I was for graduating college at 19. The things I thought would give me prosperity and opportunities made me annoyingly overqualified. They made me a threat to older people who had been working there for years with little to no college education. I was treated horribly by managers who said I didn’t have sufficient experience even though my college credentials were impressive. I was told “you don’t have enough experience” so many times, and yet, receiving a negative response was actually better than the thousands of times which my “precious” polished resumes and cover letters were blatantly ignored. For months I thought it was a dry spell, but after years it was becoming quite scary.
“We use sarcasm, randomness and memes to hide the undeniable truth: we have no stability.”
On average I have had an alarming 6 or 7 interviews with over a 10 thousand applications sent in the course of my lifetime after college. From those applications I’d say 100 were answered negatively, and maybe 5 were answered with a “maybe”. Those maybe’s turned into internships, the new term for modern-day slavery. If I had a euro for every time someone told me that internships were great because they gave you experience and connections, I’d be richer than the exploiters who sold me that lie. I mean, it makes sense right? You pay the equivalent of two house mortgages for a degree, and then you work your arse off (cough cough serving a master) for someone for free? While you simultaneously exhaust yourself working at a restaurant, bar, or store in attempts to pay for the room you live in… and you try to live life and eat healthy… and also maintain the internship which will get you the “real” job? Yup, that sounds legit. If that wasn’t enough, our generation has gotten the incredibly awesome label of “uncommitted”. According to statistics, our generation doesn’t want to get married. I mean, let’s see… we can’t afford to take care of ourselves, we can’t afford to pay our student loans and you want us to commit to a mortgage? To marrying someone? To having children?! How does that make sense? We are a generation that has been starved of opportunities, and laughed at for trying to ‘make it’ in any possible way that we can. We use sarcasm, randomness and memes to hide the undeniable truth: we have no stability. Our lives are very temporary, just like our stupid internships. We know our jobs are temporary because we are always waiting for a dream job that no one ever hires us for. We know we have no experience, because no one gives us the chance to gain this mythical experience. We know our relationships are temporary because we can barely figure out if we will stay in the same city and survive for more than 6 months. Our lives are a crazy amount of “temporary” and we are reflecting that in every aspect of our lives. In less than 10 years I have moved over 8 times, not only to different cities, but to different countries. My old college classmates? They’ve done the same. When I ask them if they have ever found a job, most of them tell me they never did, most of them work retail, and very few have succeeded. The few that have, I’m not even envious of but extremely happy for, they are a rare breed in a ridiculed and ostracized generation. I’m proud of them.
“I’m kind of like: “umm… I have over 10 years of experience in applying for jobs, does that count?”
Where do I stand now? I stand with an honoured Bachelors in Fashion Design and Merchandising, which has gotten me plenty of useless retail jobs and an unpaid internship in New York City which nearly got me killed by a taxi. A glorious Masters in Fashion Journalism from the sparkly world renown London College of Fashion, who hosted geniuses like Alexander McQueen; that degree got me plenty of unpaid internships, jobs where I did everything and was paid nothing, loads of fame, popularity, and no fortune. Basically I became the girl who “looks” rich, and can only afford ramen noodles for the week. Last but not least, a Doctorates in Art History which I may start on soon (but still debating) this is my life. What do I do? I travel, and barely survive teaching English. I became a nomad by default, not just because I love travelling. The truth is, my “unstable” and uncommitted lazy life has come at a high price. There’s a part of me that is tired of receiving rejection letters from companies who simply say I’m not a match, or that my experience isn’t sufficient, I almost laugh (in a crazy way) when they tell me they’re looking for someone with 10 years of experience. I’m kind of like: “umm… I have over 10 years of experience in applying for jobs, does that count?” I feel like in some alternate universe that should give me something to hope for, or at least a puppy or something. But it doesn’t, all it gets me is inquisitive know-it-all relatives and friends asking me what I’m doing with my life, gen-xer’s at my throat calling me lazy, and baby boomers feeling sorry for me and trying to “understand”. The truth is, this sucks, it sucks big time. It’s awful when people remind you how talented you are, and how you shouldn’t give up, but none of them can actually help you get a job, an actual job that can support you. It’s awful when you can’t even imagine owning a house, or a car, or anything like that, because that’s just not something you can do right now; and it’s something you’ve been saying for a decade. It’s awful when a YouTube celebrity gets an “honourary doctorates” (I hate those) for posting videos on how to look like Lady Gaga, and you know someone your age is a millionaire for posting a video of their daily hair routine. See, all of you older generations, you weren’t competing against this monster that is social media, you had no idea what your old classmates were doing, or how fast or slow you’re going in your life -we know, we always know.
So before you call another millennial lazy, or uncommitted, before you reject their application and say the don’t have “enough” experience, take sometime and think about this: think about how many of us have had our dreams crushed by actions and issues completely outside of our control. Think about how many of us are highly educated, geniuses even, and no one knows about us because a YouTube star is receiving all the likes and attention. Think about how many of us you call unambitious because we are stuck with giant loans and working at coffee shops and retail stores due to the fact that we never found a job in our field. Think about how many of us maybe thought about marriage and a family when we were younger, until we realized we truly couldn’t afford that dream. Think about the fact that every single one of us in this generation is struggling perhaps harder than any other generation to survive and cope with life in a world that has completely changed, and has changed too quickly for us to adapt to. I know there are a lot of millennials out there doing great things, and changing the game, and I’m overjoyed for them, I hope one day, I too find my place in the sun. I hope one day when someone calls me an editor, or a musician, I can actually afford to live like I work as hard as I do.
Here’s to you millennials, they hold you back because you’re the greatest generation of all time, we are the greatest generation of all time.