Gen Y Never Grow Up

It starts out like any complex that manifests inside you. When someone tells you enough that you are fat, you cut out carbs. When someone tells you that you are stupid, you start reading the newspaper. 

To speak candidly, the reason that Gen Y might never grow up is because previous generations refuse to treat us like adults.

They’ve been force-fed negative stereotypes of the social media obsessed and lazy Gen Y. It’s like when I tell my younger sister, “I’ll treat you like an adult when you act like one.” Except, in our case, we do act like adults and yet, no one will treat us as anything other than a stroppy teenager.

It’s easy for our critics to call us children and leave it at that. But maybe what we really need is for our elders to finally accept our place in adulthood, and stop patronizing and belittling us, especially in the workplace. The truth is that for as long as they treat us as children, we will continue to see ourselves as such.

The first hurdle we have to jump to reach adulthood is employment (and in Gen Y’s case, the lack of it).

Employers see value in hiring older candidates because they consider them more professional, reliable, and mature. In turn, we’re forced to work in hospitality, sales, and retail, and we’ll never know what it is to discover the holy grail of a 9-5.

With each new chip to the economy, the job market had to adapt, and now, the new problem we face is that the traditional 9-5 job no longer exists. 

In regards to the traditional idea of the Monday-Friday job, it has been said that, “This is not how the world works today. The turmoil of the new information and service economy means that millennials will have to be their own job creators if they want to work.” (BBC)

So not only do we have to fine tune our talents and purge our skills – we now have to create our own pay checks.

The second hurdle is our expectations for adulthood, and what we think it means.

We have set ourselves concrete benchmarks for the future, the ones that pave the path to fully fledged grown up human being. As time goes on, we are re-defining what it means to be an adult. The world is a different place, and we have different responsibilities and challenges to face. Being an adult isn’t birthing and nursing a baby, and it isn’t represented by a ring on our left ring finger. It’s a lot more complicated, as we now define success at finding any job at all, instead of the one we worked for.

We also expect our parents to have it together. After all, how many years more experience do they have? We trust them with dishing out financial advice, picking out cars, and tips on how not to poison ourselves when we eat two day old Chinese food.

Except, we start to find that they seem to have it less figured out than we thought. 

You know when your dad has a mid-life crisis and buys a new car, or your mother considers Botox? That’s when their urge for a resurgence of youth unmasks itself. My mother, for one, insists she is the next Kris Jenner. We all have problems, okay? My point is, our parents are still young internally. As their faces change and skin ages, they can barely recognise themselves. They’re still that twenty-something someone, with an identity to mold and a future to cherish.

Arguably, it could be said by our critics that over-parenting led us to this moment. They say that our parents handled every situation, and that they minimized the damage that the real world could cause us. 

I say that’s bullshit.

Unless you have lived within the tight confines of the four walls that house the millennial generation, you can’t generalize our upbringings. It’s true that we were delicately groomed to become overachievers, and we were expected to become the change-makers and ceiling breakers of a new and emerging digital world. But we were not shadowed by our parents, and they could not protect us from the truth about the world by keeping us on a tight leash.

They could not stitch together broken hearts, repay student loans, or sweet talk us into a job. They couldn’t prevent devastating events. They couldn’t help the economy. Despite what everyone tells us, we are adults. It’s so easy for the elders to remember what it was to be in your twenties, when the world practically handed out mortgages and everyone had a baby by 25. 

They think that we were blessed with the promise of opportunity. They believe that we had a better chance of creating a great academic life, and they expected it to lead to a bright future. But no one told them, like no one told us, that a fine education cannot conjure employment. We don’t expect to climb straight up the ladder, but no one will make room at the bottom of it.

The economy is in recovery, but for who exactly?

The longer it takes for us to become financially stable, the longer it takes for us to grow up. All we want to do is hide away with our faces shoved in a pizza box. 

We don’t cry when we scrape our knees, and we don’t put a Hello Kitty bandaid over paper cuts anymore. We cry because we can’t move out of our parents’ homes, and we can’t escape the repetitive loop of repaying our debts. We yearn for the whimsical day dreams, the endless optimism, and the adventurous nature associated with early childhood. We whisk ourselves away with fantasies of the day that we are no longer imprisoned in under employed jobs, and no longer shackled by the minimum wage.

The real reason we don’t want to grow up is the state of the world.

It’s not just the fragile economy, or the shame of eating microwave noodles for dinner three times a week. The world is in pretty bad shape, and it’s a scary place to live in. This is when our critics would say that they’ve lived through wars. We respect their struggles,  but why can’t they see our own?

Who wouldn’t want to be a child? The easy ignorance of the harsh realities of politics, terrorism, and war is what would help us sleep at night. All we want to think about is what’s for dessert. I’ve got room under my bed, if you need somebody to hide with.

Fortune favors the brave. We know that we are brave enough to grow up, but are they brave enough to let us?