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.
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.
– Kurt Cobain – Lead singer of Nirvana
– Jim Morrison – Lead singer of The Doors
– Janis Joplin -Musician
– Jimi Hendrix – Musician
– Jonathan Brandis – Actor
– The Elephant Man – Side show performer
I just turned 27 two days ago. It’s an odd age. You’re officially in your late 20’s. There aren’t really any other mile stones anymore until 65. You’re old enough to enlist in the army. You’re old enough to drink in bars. You’re old enough to rent a car. So really, all you’re waiting for now is to turn 65 so that you can start collecting social security.
I don’t really feel that much older. In fact, I still feel super young, and lost, and vulnerable. I thought I’d be well into a full time career by now when in reality, I think I’m just beginning again.
Where do I go from here? Am I too old to just drop everything and travel now? Should my priorities start changing? Am I going to start feeling a pit in my gut everytime I walk past a Baby Gap?
I don’t know. Life is so weird and great and unexpected. It’s scary and it sucks and I’m still learning to take its punches like a champ.
I got a new apartment in the city. I’m officially out of my parents’ house again though I hardly feel like I’m leaving the nest for a second time.
I don’t think I quite know how to build my own yet…
Remember that post where I compared Generation Y to Peter Pan’s Lost Boys? Well, I don’t think that I was entirely correct with that analogy.
Last week, I had the luxury of sitting down with a couple of my close friends who I haven’t seen in awhile. The conversation naturally turned to jobs and job losses. We all agreed that it was a difficult time for people in their twenties who were just starting out in the work force. We also all agreed that it was a tough blow to lose your job right before your career had even taken off.
Before I was laid-off, I thought 9 to 5ers were the end all, be all of jobs. I considered myself lucky to be slaving away at a job I disliked for 40 hours a week to make ends meet. I never even considered the possibility of doing anything else.
Being let go from your full time, 40 hour a week gig is not the end of the world. I think that I was wrong in calling Gen Y the “Lost Generation.” Yes, a lot of us are getting a slow start in the work force because of the rigid economy. But on the other side of the coin, there are tons of us forging our own unique career paths. Thanks to the Internet, we have become our own bosses. We have created our own companies and are thriving.
I’ve been supporting myself solely by writing for the past month now. The real test is when I move out of my parent’s house and back into the city, which could possibly happen as soon as next week. The thought of paying bills again and re-entering the real world, not as a full time career gal, but as a freelance writer, horrifies me.
You can never take the scary completely out of life. Even if I were to get another full time job, there are no guarantees that I would keep that job for the rest of my life. I could be laid off again at anytime.
So really, it’s all just a big experiment. You make choices, take risks, evaluate the consequences, and follow the road that gives you joy. Life is all about flux. We could become rich. We could end up poor. I could either succeed greatly at this freelancing thing, or I could go nowhere at all with it. But at least I have a “where” to go to.
Picture it: I am in my bedroom at my parents’ house surrounded by the dolls and pee-wee soccer trophies of my yesteryears. I am on the phone with a very important man for a very important interview so I can write an article for a very important magazine. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, my mother comes into my room and asks loudly, “I’m going to the grocery store, sweetie. Do you need any tampons?”
There is dead silence for a couple of seconds before I realize that there is a man on the other end of the line and that this man has definitely heard my mother. “Um, so, uh, yah….”
One of the things that I’ve had to adjust my life to is working from home and around the schedule of my parents. I have to use the family computer that is located in the livingroom to write because there is no room for me to put my own, anywhere. This means that I have to plan my work time around football games, vaccuming of carpets, and Dancing with the Stars. Today, I was almost done writing one article that I had spent hours working on. I was an idiot and hasn’t hit “save.” Out of nowhere, one of my mother’s exuberant labradors came charging at me and unplugged the computer with his leg.
One of the benefits of working from home is that I can wear absolutely disgusting clothing to work and everybody would be none-the-wiser. I can also eat huge amounts of ice cream and have a beer at 3pm (while at work!!!).
One of the disadvantages of working from home when your home happens to be Mom and Dad’s is the constant stream of opera music that fills the house. My parents don’t even speak Italian so why do they have to listen to Italian opera? Also today, since my parents live at the beach, the roads were flooded with ocean water and I could not leave the house. Seriously, there was fish swimming in our driveway.
Life is about adjusting. It’s not always about comfortable adjusting, but you need to learn how to adapt none-the-less. Living with my parents isn’t as bad as living with some of the roommates I have had, but I have definitely learned how to compromise, which I think will be to my advantage in the future.
It has been two months since I was laid-off from my full time job. And yanno what? I couldn’t be happier.
At first, I felt like my life had broken. For years, I had defined myself solely by a job that I hated. I was my title. Waking up in the morning and not being expected to be anywhere or do anything was crushing. I had this overwhelming fear that I was now rendered useless, that I should be shipped off to the Island of Broken Toys.
After several weeks of throwing relentless pity-parties for myself, surfing Monster.com for job listings ten hours a day, and consuming large amounts of pie and beer, I just stopped. I just suddenly stopped. This was not working. It was time to try and take a new route.
I started applying for freelance writing jobs. I applied for everything, regardless of how ridiculous the assignment was. The offers started rolling in. In the past month alone, I’ve written articles about cooking classes, casinos, fires, local businesses, co-ops, musicians, and dating. I’ve realized that I can support myself by freelance writing.
It’s about living your life on your own terms. Your job does not own you. If you hate it, you have the option of quitting at any time. Yes, there will be risks and consequences involved, and you have to weigh each one of them equally, but the choice is still there.
I am starting a new and unsteady chapter of my life. I am striving for happiness and fulfillment. I want to enjoy this time and explore all of my options. There is no room for settling.