I’ve been thinking about the events that led to me writing this article a few years ago as the shadow of yet another recession looms over us again. Millennials are often referred to as the “unluckiest generation”. It’s a blanket term that doesn’t speak for everyone, but the overall landscape that’s been the backdrop of our generation’s youth and adulthood has been undeniably tumultuous.
I’m lucky to have a stable job at a company that is often turned to by its clients for answers in times of crisis. As costs of living, housing, and everything else under the sun continue to rise, I’m swallowing the reality that I may never be able to afford the life or privacy that I want, but, for now, I am safe. I am secure. These are two things I haven’t felt for the majority of my life, and I’m doing my best to see the good hidden within the folds of life’s depressing landscape.
I realize that I have things to be thankful for in spite of my disappointment, and I worry for those who aren’t so lucky. For those of us in this shit-on generation who will never have these things, not because they made poor life choices, but because the economic and political landscape they were born into didn’t give them the opportunity.
The Boomer generation had an obtainable American Dream. Sure, many of them fucked around and fucked it up, but at least the opportunity was on the table. Where was ours?
Buried somewhere beneath 9/11, the Great Recession, political turmoil, a global pandemic, supply chain crises, and another looming period of economic instability, perhaps? Or maybe it’s tucked beneath the encyclopedia of mental health issues that stem from our unstable and unhealthy world. A handful of Millennials got lucky, got smart, and they achieved it, but so many of us never had a fucking chance.
It’s hard to say if we’ll ever have a run of good luck. As our parents get older, many Millennials find themselves bearing the burden of aging parents that add an “…added layer of pressure when it comes to reaching their own financial goals, especially during a high inflation environment like the one we’re in today.” This additional emotional and financial stress only compounds the pressures of an already overladen generation.
When the hopelessness of it all starts to sink in, I often think of the now well-worn quote from JRR Tolkien:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
But what do we do in times like this? How do we make good of the time that is given us when the times only grow ever worse?
I can’t hope for the future to bring better tidings. I can’t hang on the future at all. Stress will probably kill me long before I see the era of retirement. All I have is right now. And right now is a seesaw that teeters between the fear of being ill-prepared for a crumbling economy and environment, and leaning into the few good things that reside within the present.
I’m not neglecting the things I should be thankful for in spite of the world’s constant turmoil. I do my best to remind myself of them every day. But I can’t shake the fear that we’re watching society spiral into an irreversible state and that the worst is yet to come.