“Do whatever you have to in order to get to college. Because that’s your golden ticket. Education.”
In the pitches our parents gave, it looked an awful lot like the fast track to success. Graduate college. Get handed a good job. Buy a house young. Be able to have a bunch of kids and provide well for them in turn.
And have plenty of extra money leftover on the side for things like vacations. Boats.
They kissed our foreheads and sent us off to school. Parents were doubly optimistic about gifted kids. Because they’d surely make out well in life.
It would all be straightforward. Success would be easily achieved by just doing what you were told. All you had to do was stay on the right track.
We Were Told to Follow Our Dreams. We’re Lucky If We Can Afford to Not Live With Our Parents.
Thirty years later, and most of us are depressed. Struggling to get by. Wages have been stagnant for years. I know a few home owners, but most of us rent. And most of us don’t have kids.
Those of us who have good jobs have had to scramble for them. It was never straightforward. It got downright ugly along the way. A lot of the more successful people in my generation spent years starving and struggling to keep a roof overhead.
Even a lot of us who chose “sensible” majors are working in a different field. Doing something else. We had to go where the jobs were.
Disney yodeled at us for countless hours that we should follow our dreams. But we’re lucky if we can afford to not live with our parents.
Meanwhile, the economy keeps crashing. There was the Great Recession of 2008-2009. And now there’s 2020, which is already a recession and will probably become a depression with skyrocketing unemployment and commercial disruption caused by the pandemic and exacerbated by a faltering response to it.
I watch our parents upset that going out to eat has become a less fun experience, due to health and safety measures, while at the same time I watch the financial fortunes of my entire generation once again set back another 10 years, just as we were beginning to recover.
And at moments like these, I can’t help but feel like we were like human pets to them. That as children, we were kittens that they brought home from the shelter because we were cute and entertained them, but who they never quite expected to grow into cats.
And they certainly never expected us to grow into human beings who would need to navigate a world that wasn’t as nearly as fair as they led us to believe it was. Not nearly as much of a meritocracy.
Books by Page Turner: