Gen Y: the rich generation?

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.

the joys of working from home when your home is your parents’ house

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.

You’ve come a long way, baby

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.

On moving home at 26

I think that there is something inherently perverse about moving back into your parents’ house at the age of 26. But that is exactly what I’ll be doing in six days.

After losing my job and deciding not to renew my lease, I am left with few options. And after much soul-searching and advice from both friends and family, I’ve decided to suck it up and live at home for a month or two while I save money and try to figure out what exactly I’m suppose to do with my life.

I am very, very lucky that I actually have parents kind enough to let me live with them rent-free until I get up onto my own two feet again. But at the same time, I can hear my dignity squealing in the background, emmiting the same kind of noise virgins burning in hell would make.

Will people look at me strangely if I tell them that I spent my Saturday night on the couch watching Murder She Wrote with my mother? Can I bring my boyfriend home with my dad snoring in the adjacent bedroom? Do I call my parents my “older roommates” or do I just blatantly lie and say I live in a van down by the river?

My mother told me that I am, infact, not “moving back home.” She calls it “staying a little while.” Last week, however, as I was unpacking my clothes into my old-new bedroom, I got this queasy feeling in my stomach. It was my pride shooting itself in the head with a pistol.

Why do I feel so defeated about moving back home? It feels like I lost at life. We are told all of our lives that we are suppose to be self-sufficient by this age. I see some of my friends getting married and having babies and buying homes and then I examine my own life, and see all of my stuff in boxes, and it kills me. Being unemployed and moving back home in my late twenties wasn’t something I had in mind for myself.

We set certain standards for ourselves and goals we’d like to accomplish by specific ages. We have parents and teachers that say that we can achieve anything if we only set our minds to it. When something goes horribly wrong, brings us to our knees financially and it’s all out of our control, what then? How are we suppose to feel?

I know it’s not the end of the world but it is ego-crushing. Maybe I shouldn’t think of it as “moving in,” but as “pushing onward.”

Lingerie is not a Halloween costume, honey

“In the real world, Halloween is a night when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In “Girl World,” Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”  – Mean Girls

One year for Halloween when I was still in college, I decided to go all out. I got a tiara and borrowed an old wedding dress from a friend’s mom. I splashed fake blood all over my face and throat and teased my hair up into a big bouffant. It was awesome. Or at least I thought so.

When I went out that night to the local bars, I received mixed reviews. The boys, who actually had put some effort into their costumes, loved my get-up. Most of the girls, dressed as either sexy nurses or sexy witches or sexy cats, scoffed. One girl even asked me, “Why did you dress up so ugly?”

It’s been a trend for the last five or six years now for college-aged and twenty-something women to throw on lingerie and a set of animal ears and call it a Halloween costume. It seems that if you’re a female between the ages of 18 and 25, the less you wear on Halloween, the better.

I have no idea why this trend started happening or where it originates from. Granted, women were always encouraged to show up a bit scantily clad on this holiday to impress their boyfriends or husbands, but I think it’s gotten a bit ridiculous. When you are the only girl dressed like a zombie on October 31st amongst a sea of mostly naked women, you begin to wonder.

So I propose that this Halloween girls should wear clothing as their costume. Nothing too extreme, I’m not suggesting you go out and purchase a burka. But lingerie is not a costume, unless you’re going as what my mother calls “a lady of the night.” At least wear pants.

It’s not me. It’s totally you.

Being passed up by a potential employer is kind of like being dumped by a boyfriend. The feeling of rejection and inadequacy runs rampant through your veins. You start questioning your self-worth and want to sit infront of your television watching Jerry Springer or any other show that depicts people worse off than you are with a pint of ice-cream and a bottle of wine. Or at least that’s what I do.

Rejection in any form really, really sucks. It’s especially brutal if you’ve been unemployed for the last two months and the possibility of moving back in with Mom and Dad and sleeping underneath your Rainbow Bright comforter from 1987 is very, very high. Goodbye dignity. Goodbye buzzing social life. Goodbye boyfriend.

I had a stunning interview last week. Simply stunning. I brought my game face. I brought my grown-up binder full of grown-up, published clippings. I wore my big girl clothes. I answered their questions with impeccable grace. I sent the thank you card. I accepted the fact that it’d be a paycut and that the benefits sucked. But I’d still have my independence if I got the job. I’d still be able to live in Philly.

Aaaaaand I didn’t get it. I was rejected. I was rejected by a job that I was overqualified for, by a job that I didn’t even want in the first place.

The thing that I forgot to realize is that I have choices. Yes, I didn’t get the job. But that is not the end of the world. I have other interviews lined up. There will be other jobs, other rejections, and other opportunities.

Not getting a job that you didn’t even want in the first place isn’t the end of the world. You have to keep in mind that thousands of Americans are unemployed and getting rejected by all kinds of jobs. It’s not you. You totally rock. It’s the times. It’s the economy.

I need to learn to enjoy this time of (f)unempoyment. I mean, when else in my life will I not have a job and yet have a steady income? God forbid it happens again when I have a family or own a house. But now, it’s only me and the dog and the cat, and they’re both getting fed like royalty. Life has a plan for me. Things will work out. It’ll be okay.

Social Media and TMI

This evening, while eating dinner and cyber-stalking my “friends” on Facebook, I came across the following status updates:

“My cat just pissed in my shoes.”

“My boyfriend just dumped me 😦 ”

“I have gas.”

Now, sharing interesting tidbits via social media is all well and good, but lately, both Facebook and Twitter have become minefields of ridiculous oversharers. It’s as if the world cannot deal with anything going on in their lives until they’ve reached for their phones and texted or tweeted about it.

It can be wonderful to have hundreds of virtual and real life friends flock to your aid in a matter of minutes. But what if this immediate rescue response prevents us from being able to save ourselves from emotional conflict? What if we stop being able to talk ourselves off of the bridge?

Awhile ago, I dropped my phone in the toilet. Unable to constantly check Facebook or tweet about my where-abouts or text my friends, I went a little crazy and locked myself in the apartment with my computer. Sitting in my bedroom infront of the monitor, I was able to stay connected to the world, but since I didn’t have the on-the-go luxury of my phone, I could not participate in it. Without the instant updates on friends, news, etc, I felt lost, even if it was just for the four days I waited to receive a new phone.

Have we forgotten what it’s like to just be quiet? There’s this constant stream of communication going on all of the time and most of it I feel is just white noise. I mean, does anybody seriously care  that my dog is constipated? No.

And when does the line between your social media life and your real life begin to blur? There is this talk about “self branding,” creating a distinct, marketable image of yourself on the Internet for employers to find. But how much of your Internet self is real? Or is it just false campaigning and advertisement?

We have to be careful about losing ourselves in this world of new technology and social media. We have to remember that face-to-face interaction is way better than texting and the real world, the world outside of your home, is much more interesting than reading about somebody else’s life through their blog. We also have to be concerned about our privacy. When does sharing become too much sharing? At what point do we stop and hold information back? What part of ourselves truly only belongs to us anymore?