Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leave Me Alone, I'm a Twentysomething....

Do you know what? I am totally sick of being constantly defined and re-defined by major news outlets. They tell me that I can’t hold on to a job because my expectations are too high. They tell me I’ve over-valued my excellent (and expensive) education when I ask for more responsibility at work. They tell me I won’t even think about marriage until I’m 30 and by then I’ll be too old to keep up with children. They tell me that I’m occupying Wall Street and starting my own business at the same time all while keeping up my fabulous blog. I am not even going to link to the stupid articles because they make me so MAD! I don’t want you to read them. I don’t want one more person making judgments about my character and predicting my decisions based on my age.

Photo - www.JamieCullum.com/Twentysomething
Jamie Cullum released an album in 2003 called Twentysomething (go check it out now – He is awesome!) The entire album (both musically and lyrically) is an ode to being young, stumbling around and figuring out who you are. The brilliant blend of covers and originals encapsulates the way I feel about growing up – by building creatively on the foundations of those I admire. In the album’s title track, Cullum croons: “leave me alone, I’m a twentysomething…” Which is exactly what all these psychologists and analysts and writers should do – leave us alone!

I know we’re fascinating and everything, with our high-tech gadgets and careers, our sky-is-the-limit career mentality, but when you make (and widely publish) perceptions about a group of people who are still growing and changing, you create self-fulfilling prophesies. It’s not healthy for young adults who are desperately trying to find themselves to be constantly confronted with someone else’s opinion about their situation.

Photo: Emily Fraker
I know it’s hard – you want to write about the great recession and how it impacted our minds and career paths. You want to write about our unstable careers and all the new challenges we face, and that’s fine. Really, it is. The problem is, you need to alter your angle. I don’t keep a blog because I am in my twenties. I keep a blog because companies no longer offer the professional development and training options that they used to. Blogging is the best way to keep my writing skills sharp. I didn’t leave my first job after only two years because I was bored or wanted a promotion. I left because the crappy economy meant that they could only contract me for three months at a time. Justifying my existence by interviewing for my own job four times each year was making my hair fall out. You could say that my approach to these problems is unique to my age group, but that is like asking if the chicken or the egg came first.

Photo: Chad Fisk

  For me, my twenties have been about two things so far: passion and survival. I want to be passionate about my work and my life. I also want to survive on my own – i.e. make enough money to live on my own and eat food other than ramen noodles. So far, reconciling has been a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. I don’t think my experience is unique. I’m not yet laying plans to start my own business and I’m still not entirely sure who I am. One thing I do know for sure is that whoever I am and whatever I become, I want to get there on my own. So write all you want about the challenges of a new economy, but keep the spoiler ending to yourself and leave birthdays out of it.

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