Twenty-Three–The Crucible of Suck

Maybe 1:30 in the morning isn’t the best time to begin a post. But then, when you have no work schedule due to being funemployed (Thanks for the precise term, Alex!) there is no such thing as too late of a night.

Being twenty-three sucks. Let’s not beat around the bush. I’m lost. I’m tired of the fog surrounding my life. I’m confused. It sometimes feels like it’s not going to work out. And I doubt that I’m alone. Why are one’s twenties the crucible of suck, especially in 2011? Let me count the ways.

#1 Jobs-We were raised to believe that an education was the key to a good job and that years of academic rigor would pay off. And so we studied. And studied. And for some of us (*wink wink–yours truly), the love of study is enough. But a Bachelor’s degree isn’t enough to guarantee a job anymore, and the sole focus on academics left an over-educated generation starved of work experience. We now struggle to get employed in jobs that require no education, because we lack the experience necessary.

#2 Living at Home-Even three years ago, living with one’s parents after college drew shame from friends and family alike. It was a marker of ineptitude as a budding adult. You mean you can’t make enough money to pay rent on your own place? Ptbth. What a loser. Autumn 2011 comes around and we’re 4/5 for college graduates living at home on my cul-de-sac. We sit around writing blogs late at night, mooching off our relatives, and trying to push aside the fog longer enough to catch a glimpse of the F word. No, not that F-word…Future.

#3 Economy-You might have guessed that the two previous suckfests in the world of twenty-three are tied to this monster. This is a crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in eighty years. And no one seems to be able to figure out what to do about it. It’s obvious that the US is in what we twenties-ers like to call “deep shit,” but the fact that

-The orange indicates countries in recession in 2009 (The Economist)

the USA is in crushing debt isn’t that surprising when you consider the amount of crushing debt so many people are in personally in this country. I’m lucky enough not to carry any myself (so far), but if I ever decide to join the car and house-owning ranks I will most likely have to. We don’t know when this will improve. If you’ve got an answer, please run for office.

#4 The 21C Transition– I’m borrowing from James Martin’s book, The Meaning of the 21st Century. We’re beginning a new century and a new millennium. Faster than ever, with bigger populations and problems, things are accelerating at a rate not seen in the last 20,000 years. More people, more problems, fewer resources. And while we twenty-somethings might want to change something, were stuck living at home and in between jobs. This transition sure feels like it is happening without our participation.

#5 HealthcareAs we saw yesterday in the Republican debate, some people in the running for becoming a president of the US believe that we should allow an uninsured 30-year-old to die rather than help him with a national health care system. I’m lucky enough to be able to use my parents’ support for health care, but the hypothetical question Wolf Blitzer posed to the candidates is far from fiction. Many of us in this part of life cannot afford health care, and so we go without. Often to our extreme detriment.

#6 Politics-Being in your twenties means taking a back seat politically to aging Tea Partiers and those with all the time in the world to absorb as much FoxNews and CNN as possible. That means that the major policy decisions, when they are made, aren’t thinking of our interests. And then we get discouraged and stop participating all together. Gone are the turbulent protests that rocked the 1960s and still persist around the world (like in Chile). It’s hard to start a radical youth movement from your mom’s couch.

#7 Identity-Who do you think you are? Ready to question every part of that? Being in the twenties is full of moments to ask oneself, “Where am I and how did I get here?” Hopefully you’ll be able to avoid the moments involving the literal incarnations of ants in your pants, but when you run into these little (or big) tests, you see exactly where the cracks in your personality and confidence run. Dynamic change is the name of the game, to the point that those of us in our twenties often don’t know where we will be in six months (spiritually, physically, mentally). And being in constant flux can wear on a person. Most twenty-somethings I know crave stability, but are also drawn to an untethered life.

#8 Relationships-The twenties are the time when many people pair off and make lifelong commitments to one another. Or don’t. Or try to figure out what it is that they would actually want in a partner. And since we’re all a bit lost in the fog of identity flux, it’s messy. And often painful. Many wise people have told me that the first step to being able to love someone else is loving oneself…but if one is in a constant flux state it’s hard to figure out which part to love. Big mistakes and big confusion ahoy!

Every epoch of life has parts that suck, but twenty-three has its own special brand of suck sauce. The eight ingredients above all contribute, but the molasses that holds it all together is the pressure to figure it all out.

Frankly, it’s enough to make a twenty-something want to throw up their hands and move to Chilean Patagonia. Oh wait, I already did that. Well, it makes me want to do something drastic like dye my hair a completely different color. Oh wait, I already did that too.

So much hair, I need six hands...


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