Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's A Terrifying Time

Posted afterwards on: Georgian Eye Student Blog/Paper.

It’s a terrifying time to be young.

You are hyper-saturated with everything the world has to terrorize you with: the clash of the east and the west; the omnipresent threat of another nuclear arms race; increasingly cataclysmic natural disasters; rising unemployment, and failing economies. Turn on the radio – your TV – your computer. Everywhere you look and listen, you are being reminded of the countless ways the world can – and allegedly will – go to hell in a hand-basket. Like no other generation before, your fingers are on the pulse of the world – whether you want them to be or not.

Say you don’t read the news – say you can block out the endless campaign of fear being shoved down your throat by the media, politicians, Hollywood – you still can’t block out the evidence you see in your day-to-day life. Maybe it’s the extra people at the bus stop – the people who couldn’t afford to keep their car – maybe it’s your family, who’ve had to downsize and move out of the house you grew up in. Maybe it’s the whispers in the hallways and the invisible anxiety seeping into you and your friends – the fact that you’re working a job you hate just so you have a chance to find one you don’t.

Say you’ve avoided this through a lucky draw in the genetic lottery, with a financially-sound family and the opportunity to get a good education and be all that you can be. What are you going to do with your life? You didn’t know what you were going to be in high school? You don’t know what you’re going to be, now that you’re in college or university, so you’re just treading water and hoping – praying – that you’ll chance across that job – that role in life which will put food on your table, gas in your tank, hope in your heart. But now you’re reaching the end of your degree and even though you think you might know what you want to be, you’re not sure because there are a million other people out there who are trying to get the exact same job – people who are more experienced, better qualified, better connected – hell, even better looking. You get thanked for your time, but are told someone better suited to the position has been selected. So you go home, and start applying to the places you once said you’d never lower yourself to working at, because the student loans and the credit cards and nights at the bar are starting to add up with all that nameless anxiety you’d hoped would dissipate when you landed the perfect job which would permit you to become a self-sufficient adult. You might even smile – even though you feel like a failure – because it’s almost funny how pathetic you now feel – how cruelly relegated you are to becoming the mediocre sap who had dreams of being a doctor, a scientist, an engineer, a rock and roll star, a poet, a philanthropist – someone who would make a mark on the world – maybe become rich – maybe even famous. But that’s not a productive, or even a happy thought, so you accept the job you’re overqualified for, take the paycheque that’s far less than you’re worth, take the garbage from your boss you’re better than, and take the beating the world’s unleashing on you. After all – what do you have to be unhappy about? You live in a good country, in a good city, with a job that doesn’t let you starve and doesn’t leave you homeless. Your problems are marginal – at least, that’s the mantra you whisper to yourself as you go through the motions, waiting, hoping for that divine providence to shine down on you and reveal your real purpose for being on this rock screaming through space.

Until that happens though, you bow, nod your head, and do as you’re told – otherwise someone will gladly snap up the job and accoutrements you’ve collected. This isn’t permanent, you tell yourself, and comfort yourself with the notion that there is something greater out there for you, waiting – just around the next corner.

You are the generation who was promised everything, and given nothing.