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Sunday, August 22, 2010

 

On being a 20-something

Glenn Reynolds linked to an aspiring writer for the NY Times, Jessie, a 20-something who moved back with her parents until her career took off.

When I was growing up, most of the parents I knew were not rich enough to let their kids “find themselves.” Some people I know did, but I hated them. Getting a job, renting a crummy apartment, buying my own car – and maintaining it – was not nearly as much fun as going to California and living at the beach on parental support checks. But for most people in my Midwest community, mom and dad didn’t have it to spend. Besides that, I would just be putting off the inevitable and others would be getting the careers that I had to look forward to.

Of course, I didn’t dream of becoming an author or movie star. Just getting a career and having enough money to buy a new car rather than a used jalopy like my parents drove was my primary motivation.

Moving back with mom and dad was not an option unless the alternative was homelessness. In those dark ages, somewhere between 1900 and 2000, living with the folks was an open admission of failure. You were either an alcoholic, drug addict or an idiot – literally.

So now 20-somethings are living at home to “find themselves.” Like Jessie Rosen is until her career takes off. I wonder if the Jessie Rosens realize that they are reverting to the pre-industrial age when children lived with their parents. Lived at home to help with the chores, milk the cows, feed the chickens, plow the fields, run the farm.

And why should they ever move out? Today’s homes are big enough, God knows, to allow several generations to live in what most of the world would consider not just comfort but luxury. As the elders become enfeebled, can’t get around much anymore, need help feeding themselves, develop Alzheimers or dementia, there are the 20-somethings now 60-somethings – and their spouses and their children – to take care of the parents that have been such a great safety net during their young lives.  And when the parents die, the old house is right there for the next few generations.

Perhaps Jessie Rosen should reconsider her plans. You can be a successful author living in your old room in your parents’ house. And, like your other 20-somethings you could be the trailblazer, the start of a new trend that is really an old custom.  Think of the reduced carbon footprint Jessie.  Back to the future.

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Comments:
When the author wrote "...pursue my creative passions in Los Angeles" I grit my teeth so hard I may have cracked a molar.

Recently, my 21 and 18 year old adults decided the best way to get out of dad's house was to join the Navy. They both had scholarships to the local university but felt the best place to 'pursue their passion' was serving their country.
 
On the other hand, how many people graduated in 1990 with $500 a month student loan payments? How about $1500 a month?

Going to college is pretty much a death sentence for having a life AFTER college. You're almost required to spend a couple years living at home, working two jobs to pay down your debt, so that the interest payments don't accrue on and on and on.
 
When the author wrote "...pursue my creative passions in Los Angeles" I grit my teeth so hard I may have cracked a molar.

Lucky for you that there are people who like to pursue their passions in dentistry ;)

There's nothing morally wrong with pursuing your dreams, even in Los Angeles.

As long as it's your own dime.
 
It really makes me wonder just how much of the Live At Home Until You See How Things Shake Out is really the 20-somethings realizing just how previous generations have chumped them. Their future looks pretty grim to me, and I might also be tempted to say "screw you Social Security slugs, fund your own retirement". The Boomers and those that came before them have virtually guaranteed the 20-somethings will either pay huge taxes or inherit a nation with little in the way of a useful economy.

Man, it's such a bitch when those you thought you could fool with a Ponzi Scheme turn out to be smarter than you.

I thought we fixed this problem by turning public education into such a worthless timewaster?

What I want to know is where did the Boomers fail? Don't the 20-somethings know they should live to serve us?
 
So...are the 20 somethings just going Galt?
 
"how many people graduated in 1990 with $500 a month student loan payments? How about $1500 a month? Going to college is pretty much a death sentence for having a life AFTER college."

Please. I grew up on welfare in New Jersey, and yet I still managed to graduate from a private university in 2004 with monthly student loan payments of only $160 or so. If the silver-spoon set are racking up such obscene student loans, then yes, they don't deserve to "have a life" after college. They need to work off all the years they've been mooching off someone else.

*rolls eyes* So many people today think that "having a life" means endless entertainment and leisure, whereas our grandparents and great-grandparents understood it to mean, "food on the table and a roof overhead."
 
wlpeak said...
> So...are the 20 somethings just going Galt?

I think it could become that, but I don't think they're anywhere near there yet. I would think it's more a period to gather data on whether their future will be in an aboveground or underground economy, and which way they should direct their efforts.

If we are about to see the end of Big Gov (in other words, genuine social upheaval) then why would the 20-somethings waste their efforts feeding BigGov? If BigGov goes under, they get nothing from feeding it. After all, failed states offer no retirement benefits.

But I don't say any of this like a prediction, just something I wondered about.

I don't envy the circumstances they face, or the decisions they must make.
 
"There's nothing morally wrong with pursuing your dreams, even in Los Angeles.

As long as it's your own dime."

I don't even have a problem with pursuing your dreams at your parents' expense. After all, it's their money; they're entitled to spend it however they want. What irritates me is that the author of the original piece obviously considers herself to be a higher life form than the poor schmuck who joins the work force. Also, when was the last time there was any real creativity in Los Angeles?
 
While back at a party some friends(mid-20's girls) of my friends gave me a look into current mid-20's mindset for a lot of people: "I have to work so I can get to the next party/trip/whatever in a few days", with it being far more important than anything else to get to the party.

At their age I had a job, a wife and house and the second kid on the way. Not the right way for everyone(God knows there are problems enough!), but it really pisses me off to see 'adults' who can't seem to see past the next "Who'll buy me drinks" or "When's the next party?" stage.
 
I have to admit, I'm somewhat unsympathetic to the puling of spoiled twenty-somethings. I am twenty-seven years old. I have three undergraduate degrees and $8,000 in student loan debt. I live in a one-bedroom apartment, I have my own car, and I work full time at one job and part time at another. I pay my debt, student and car loans, every month. I have served in the Army, written three-quarters of a novel, recovered from a broken back, worked as a nuclear waste technician, flipped burgers, answered doctors' and lawyers' telephones at three in the morning, driven from Seattle to California and back, studied for and taken the GRE, contracted mold allergies from poorly insulated apartments, started and abandoned countless blogs, voted Republican in two presidential elections, and in two months I shall begin applying for graduate school. I have done all this without financial support from my parents. (Plenty of emotional support, but no financial.) That is because I am a grown-up. I am responsible for myself. No one is responsible for me. If the twenty-somethings described in this article can't hack it in the real world, I say get the hell out of my way, because God knows I can do a hell of a lot better than they can when it comes to "pursuing my passion".
 
Our 23 year-old daughter moved out earlier this summer after living with us for a year post graduation from college. We didn't push her to leave, it was actually quite pleasant having her around (and she paid the electric bill), rather she felt the same overwhelming urge my wife and I did when we graduated from college: to get out on our own, in our own place, paying our own bills, living our own, independent life.
 
living with the folks was an open admission of failure. You were either an alcoholic, drug addict or an idiot – literally

Or were some kind of female repellant.
 
I suggest that the older generations choose their criticisms wisely - particularly before taxing us into oblivion to pay for their ponzi schemes.

You'll be lucky if all we do is tell you to pay for your own retirement.
 
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