Up until this Monday, the 10th of June, 2013, I’ve written, read, and discussed a lot of stories about Generation Y.
Reading through these articles, I’ve grandly nodded my head at the sweeping generalizations, whether accusatory or pitying, about my age group. Of course you need more than a university education to succeed in the job market. Of course you’ll be working as a barista for a little bit, however sad that fact is. Of course there are no jobs.
I nodded, complained to friends in similar situations, and sat seething in a jealous pit while other friends found opportunities in more technical or practical fields like technology or healthcare. And yet, I was never a slacker, having held down as many as 3 jobs and volunteer activities simultaneously for most of my 4 full-time years at university. Not only that, but I was always willing to learn more, work harder, and network with more people than others in my classes. But this was done mainly to finish university with an actual hope of attaining employment. Those who did nothing but study, I’m afraid, will be facing much dimmer hopes. As Adam Kingsmith writes,
“Most of Generation Y simply wants what our parents had. A graduation met with impending job prospects, a steady source of engaging employment, health benefits and a retirement plan, a partner, homeownership, a family, and a two-car garage.”
I wrote articles, too, about how the trades are desperate for fresh blood but young people are ignorant to the great benefits, and opportunities available in these fields because their parents wanted them to get university degrees (for better future opportunities, they said). I wrote articles about how to score jobs through networking, how to job hunt online, and how much opportunity there is in healthcare. All sorts of things targeted to my generation and the job hunt, the job market, our potential future troubles. I know quite a bit about our situation, our current society, and the socioeconomic situation that is making us all sweat.
I discussed all of these things with close and not-so-close friends, coworkers and bosses and strangers on the bus. But recently, I’ve made some big decisions that have resulted in every person asking me the same inane question, and it’s starting to drive me completely insane:
So, do you have a job yet?
And I finally realized on Monday, when I graduated along with 600 other BA holders in the 1st of 5 ceremonies from York University’s Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Faculty (which will graduate more than 3,600 students this year), that I am truly, depressingly, inescapably Generation Y. I’ve never really felt like I fit anywhere, but, as all of the internet seems to screaming, I belong here, with everyone else on that stage, with the lights making us sweat in the robes we had to pay to rent for 4 hours, hopeless and hopeful, angry and determined, willing and discouraged. I am the proud and tired owner of a piece of paper that says that I spent 5 years on an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and Professional Writing.
Knowing all this, I was still in denial about how dreadful it would be after graduation until I sat in that hot seat in front of thousands of happy family members.
I was in denial because I thought I was the exception to the rule. That if I worked hard enough, cobbled together enough experience and made enough connections, I would be the exception to the hordes of BA holders working in coffee shops and retail outlets. In my heart, I still believe this is the case, mainly because I have an ego the size and strength of a cement construction of modern architecture.
But in reality, and after signing a 1-year lease with my boyfriend of 5 years, I’m terrified. I’m terrified that on July 2, 2014, a year after moving into my “future life”, I’ll be working at a coffee shop down the street from our fancy new condo. I’m terrified that the moving fees, hydro fees, home insurance, pet insurance, pet food, food, cell phone bills, internet bills and life in general will be paid for by the dull creation of lattes and cappuccinos.
If I had to live the past 5 years of my life thinking that I’d have to live with my parents until I’m 30, I would probably have given up. I’d just apply to Starbucks over and over again until every grain of hope seeped out of my resume and my skills became so outdated that I would become economically useless.
But I still have a little bit of hope left in myself because, hey, I have worked hard, and I write pretty hilarious and effective cover letters from time to time. People have liked that in the past, and here’s hoping they’ll like that now, when I’m actually in need of opportunities to grow as a person and devote my energies to an exciting team.
What’s strange, but telling of my bullheadedness, is that while I was so entrenched in the discussions of my generation, I very obviously separated myself from the troubles everyone else around me was having. Because I’ve been such a hard worker (it’s in my nature; idle hands are my worst enemy), I’ve always fallen into certain jobs, whether they were bartending or tutoring. Eventually, I even started getting paid to write. That was an amazing day for me while I was living at home and not paying rent, but now I am looking forward to the day that my writing can earn me an entire living. That is the crux of this whole post.
Will that day ever come? Or will I have to resort to paying thousands more dollars to upgrade and specify my skills in a college program? Will the past 5 years of hard effing work ever be worth a living wage?
I guess we’ll find out. Moving day is July 2nd, and I have savings *and familial loans* enough for a few months of unemployment. After that, who knows. Maybe lattes, maybe communication.
I’m hopeful for now, and leaving hopeless for later.