Gen Y is a generation of many hats. Four years ago, when I first graduated from college, I was working three jobs in order to support myself. I was a secretary/bartender/freelance writer. When people asked what exactly I did for a living, I always told them that I was either a writer or barmaid, I never said both. But more and more people in their twenties and thirties are becoming jacks of all trades and are not shy about introducing themselves that way.
Gen Y is now known as the “Slasher Generation.” We hold down an entire string of jobs in order to pay the rent. We’re no longer simply lawyers or baristas or musicians, we’re now teacher/server/screenwriter. An engineer might be a freelance graphic designer in his spare time or a waitress might be the author of a popular foodie blog.
The Baby Boomers didn’t have the luxury of dabbling in many professions. They were locked down with families, babies and mortgages all by the age of 25, so stability was their number one priority. The members of Generation Y are putting off marriage and using those open years to discover what they want to do, thus creating multiple titles for themselves.
Many members of Gen U prefer the flexibility of holding down many titles. We’re discovering the beauty of contract and freelance work and leaving the 9-5ers behind.
The end result will be a work force that can play multiple roles and more people working for numerous companies instead of just one.
I remember that day, almost a decade ago. I was 17-years-old and sitting in my third period high school government class when an annoucement came over the loud speaker saying something about a plane flying into one of the Twin Towers. A few minutes later, another annoucement was made saying a second plane had hit.
In the 1950′s, the Baby Boomers were told to cower under their school desks in case a nuclear bomb exploded. Gen Y had our own generational traumas, including two of our country’s beacons destroyed and two wars that are yet unresolved.
Tonight, President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Even though both wars have not yet ended and our country is still climbing out of a shattered economical downfall, there is a bit of peace that falls upon the nation.
In the 1950′s, it was all hunky dory for women to quit their jobs, move to a house in the ‘burbs, don an apron and dedicate themselves to being a full-time housewife. But after The Feminist Mystique, burning bras, birth control and Gloria Steinem’s “I can’t breed in captivity” quote when discussing whether or not she could have children while married, Gen Y women face an entire world of opportunities and choices. We can have it all. We can be the high powered attorney and the soccer mom. But do we necessarily really want it all?
In a 2006 poll done by The New York Times, more than 60% of the female undergrads attending Yale polled that they’d quit their jobs in order to raise kids. Are these women throwing away the decades of toil their foremothers went through in order to earn the luxury and freedom to even be able to have it all?
Gen Y women suffer from extreme pressure to create a life that reflects the choices we have in today’s society. We’re expected to go to college, earn that MBA, work tireless hours to afford designer shoes and handbags and haircuts. We need to marry the perfect dapper gentleman and move into a stylish flat in the city and have beautiful bouncy babies. We then take a week off for maternity leave, kiss our newborn on the head and then merrily skip back to our jobs to begin the process of juggling career, baby and social life.
In a world where both parents are expected to work, is there any room for stay-at-home moms? If the Gen Y woman does decide to quit her job to stay at home with the children, can the family even afford to live off of only the husband’s income?
The true question is, has feminism hurt Gen Y women? The benefits we have received by being born into a post third wave feminism world are countless. Glass ceilings are gone, the intricate female anatomy is now no longer a secret to men and more women now than ever are pursuing higher education.
The backlash is that there is no longer any room for the women who do want to stay at home and have babies. The price of living has increased dramatically and we no longer have the luxury of being able to live comfortably in a one-income household.
So what do we do? Do we downsize, move into a cheap apartment and sell the second car in order to be able to afford staying at home while our hubby or civil partner or girlfriend works? Do we work part time so we can still be with our kids?
It’s odd how far we’ve come only to be stuck again.
Gen Y has suffered from some pretty heavy stigmas over the years. We’ve been labeled “self indulgent,” “lazy,” “coddled,” and so on and so forth. We’re a generation of fledgling adults, still seeking help from our parents despite the fact that we’ve been out of our teens for a decade.
A new study, however, has revealed evidence that still relying on our parents could potentially be a good thing. This need for parental approval and still using Mommy and Daddy as a financial safety net isn’t just because Gen Y is “idle.” The study concludes that the support given to us by our parents can be considered a kind of structural skeleton for our adult lives.
The study in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that members of generation Y turn to their parents as a mechanism to help their career advancement.
By “boomeranging” back to the nest, the 18 to 34 year olds can use the money they’re saving on rent to put towards advancing their education or gaining experience at an internship.
In a world where advanced education is considered more important everyday, Gen Y is laying the building blocks for a successful adulthood.
Unlike our parents or grandparents, who were married and responsible for young children by the time they were 25, we have the option of exploring multiple career paths. In a rocky economy and ever changing world, Gen Y members who have multiple skills will be better off. It also makes then more desirable to employers when they do enter the job market.
The study also concluded that most Gen Y-ers do become self sufficient by the time they are 30.
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