This is one of the funnist things I've ever read. Don't laugh too hard, your sides might split...
Today’s 20-somethings were brought up believing they could have it all: the high-flying job, the enviable bank balance, the perfect relationship. But as young adults in a recession, they have found that the reality is very different. For a generation raised on sky-high expectations, learning to compromise has brought them back down to earth, says 23-year-old Sophie Ellis...
When I arrived at Manchester Metropolitan University (decidedly not Oxford - RK) to study English (decidedly not chemical engineering - RK) six years ago, I had no doubt that after three years of hedonism, hangovers and hard work, I’d emerge a proud graduate with the world at my feet. I believed that it would be only a matter of time before I found a full-time job in my chosen field, made inroads into my student debts, bought my first house and forged a happy relationship with the man of my dreams. There was an unspoken assumption among my peers that this was our future – all we had to do now was sort out the finer details. The word compromise never entered our heads. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that life had other plans for us.
After university I took a master’s in journalism, thinking it would give me an edge in a highly competitive industry. But as the chaplain handed me my scroll in 2008, the reality of graduation was far from the fairy tale I had expected. The abrupt economic downturn had really sunk in; unemployment was skyrocketing alongside loan interest rates; graduates weren’t getting a look-in in the job market and the 100 per cent mortgages of recent years, which had allowed first-time buyers a vital first footing on the property ladder, had vanished. We were left reeling.
‘Rigid goals, an idealised trajectory and a world-owes-me-something attitude is commonplace, making many of today’s young adults demoralised, anxious and depressed,’ says psychologist Dr Cecilia d’Felice. Psychotherapist Richard Reid agrees: ‘I’ve noticed an increasing number of young adults coming to see me suffering from symptoms of dissatisfaction in their everyday lives,’ he says. ‘They’ve lost their identity and sense of direction as the jobs and lifestyle they expected have been abruptly taken away.’
Dissatisfaction is an understatement. Despite what our parents and teachers assured us, a degree no longer guarantees a good job. Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that almost one in ten of 2008’s graduates are unemployed, and more than a million under 25s were out of work at the end of 2009.
I’d assumed I would walk into my ideal job on a women’s magazine; instead, I spent the best part of six months filling in application forms for jobs that weren’t even remotely related to my degree. The rejection letters I received could easily have filled a postbag. I eventually secured a job as a television researcher in Leeds. I was lucky – at least it was in the journalistic arena. My friend Jessica, 22, graduated with a degree in fashion buying the same year as me. Eight months later she became so disillusioned at the lack of jobs that she decided to take a Postgraduate Certificate in Education to retrain as a teacher. ‘Teaching isn’t something I would have considered before,’ she says. ‘But I have to believe that I’m bettering my chances.’
For some, the brutal shock of unemployment in place of the promise of a fulfilling career proves too much to handle. In April, 21-year-old Vicky Harrison committed suicide. She had dreamt of a career as a teacher or a TV producer but gave up hope after more than 200 unsuccessful job applications. She was one of more than 450,000 young adults under 25 who claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (Welfare) last year – a figure which has risen by 99 per cent since the beginning of the recession.
‘When we are young our hopes are in their most nascent and fragile form,’ explains Dr d’Felice. ‘They can easily be trampled upon – with devastating consequences to our self-confidence and self-esteem, as the tragic case of Vicky Harrison illustrates so poignantly.’
When I was born in 1986 it was a time of affluence, opportunity and promise; my mother, a single parent, had a respected and well-paid job in the flourishing IT industry and worked hard to provide a decent lifestyle for the two of us. She emphasised the importance of education and pushed me academically. I joined after-school clubs, took clarinet and piano lessons and applied myself to my studies. It seemed an obvious equation – working hard at school meant I’d get a good job and nice things when I grew up.
However, like many people who grew up in the 1970s, my mum had had a smooth transition into the world of work. She found a job with a large IT firm weeks after graduating, progressed quickly up the career ladder, bought a house and, by the time she had me, at 31, was established in a lucrative job as a freelance computer programmer. Her peers had similar good fortune – many had received full grants for university, signed on in the long holidays and graduated with no debt. They found work, bought property cheaply, then, as prices rose, made a tidy profit and traded up. As their children, we had the best foundations in terms of education, economy and ego. I had no doubt that I’d be at least as successful as my mother.
For the first time, we’re asking ourselves what we can do without and becoming masters in constructive compromise.
The media sold me a similar dream. Magazines taught me how to bag a bloke, add zeros to my future salary and become the best-dressed girl in town; and every US drama from Sweet Valley High to Sex and the City assured me that, one day, I too would be sipping cosmopolitans, flicking my perfectly coiffed hair and discussing my charmed life with my equally groomed, intelligent and successful friends. In short, my expectations of adulthood were sky-high; my sense of entitlement enormous. Nothing – intellectually, financially or emotionally, I believed – was out of reach.
Yet here I am, living back at home near Leeds – crammed in with my mum and her dog Louis. As we sit watching Location, Location, Location, I daydream about the small but stylish city-centre flat I’d envisaged for myself. I’m far from alone – one 23-year-old friend, who needs to pay off her student debt and is trying to save for a deposit on a flat, has moved back in with her parents, is sleeping in her childhood bed and adhering to a curfew.
My relationship has been similarly affected by my own lofty expectations. I have been with my boyfriend, albeit on and off, for more than five years. In truth, all our ‘off’ times were down to my concern that there might be something better out there. It’s awful to admit, but my reluctance to commit was because our relationship was ‘normal’. I felt entitled to constant declarations of love and devotion, 90210-style, and it’s taken me a long time to curb my cravings for a Hollywood romance that simply doesn’t exist. And, seemingly, my peers are having the same trouble adjusting. In a recent newspaper article, author Joanna Trollope chastised young women for believing in the perfect man.
She insisted: ‘People have to throw away this absurd Vera Wang shopping list which says that a man has to earn £100,000 a year, be able to cut down a tree, play the Spanish guitar, make love all night and cook a cheese soufflé.’ But growing up, all we saw were perfect men with perfect wives, whether it was on television, in a magazine or on a billboard. Even my mother advised me to settle for nothing less than the three Rs – respect, romance and ‘Robert Redford looks’. Ironically, she herself has never married, which should have been a hint that real life wasn’t like the movies. Slowly, begrudgingly, my generation is realising that compromise is key.
The upside to the gloom is that we’ve had to knock the narcissism down a peg or two and realise that we weren’t quite as entitled to the job, the house or the man as we thought. For the first time, we’re asking ourselves what we can do without and becoming masters in constructive compromise. For me, living in London just wouldn’t have worked. It wasn’t feasible to pay off my student debts alongside extortionate rent. Yes, living with mum is a compromise – for both of us – but one which, with luck, will enable me to save for a place of my own. And although my magazine dreams may be delayed, I have decided to give freelancing a go – it’s hard work, but the sense of pride I feel when I get a commission is something I wouldn’t necessarily have experienced in a magazine-office environment. My relationship is now flourishing too. We both make the effort to keep it special and exciting, and I’ve learnt that an ‘ordinary’ night in on the sofa beats overblown declarations of love any day.
Would it have made the blow any easier if my generation had known in advance that we would become adults in an age of insecurity and cutbacks? Probably. But that might not have given us the motivation to aim high. According to a recent poll, rather than becoming despondent and giving up, a quarter of young people still dream of running their own business, and 23 per cent of new graduates want to gain more qualifications in order to better tailor their skills to the career they really want.
SOURCE: UK Daily Mail.
This article is couched in terms of 'generational' experience but really, most of the issues discussed are relevant only to young Anglo females: ideal 'love', absurd career expectations and a total lack of self awareness. In sum, is this 'crisis' to do with generations or is it really to do with Anglobitch entitlement? In my opinion, it is the latter.
Sophie Ellis believes that she is entitled to a multi-millionaire uber-alpha male partner, a six-figure job, a house in one of the world's most expensive cities, a Hollywood romance - all with a 'degree' in a soft subject from a mediocre school that, frankly, anyone of normal intelligence could have acquired. The Men's Rights Movement often discusses the effect of female-headed households on sons, never daughters. However, the impact of an entitled mother prattling continuously in her daughter's ear cannot be underestimated. The only male presence in Sophie's formative years seems to have been her mother's dog - a fact that surely amplified the impact of this parental misandry ten-thousandfold. Her mother's '3 Rs' (Respect, Romance and Robert Redford looks) are especially disturbing - how many more young girls are being similarly indoctrinated by feminist mothers? Divorce and lone-motherhood must inflate female self-delusion to deranged levels.
Having smaller amygdalas, women are naturally more pliant to external influences than men. And Anglo-American societies continually tell women they are 'special', they are princesses, they are entitled to things by mere virtue of owning a vagina (our Pedestal Syndrome). But what happens when this absurd agenda hits the real world of work and commerce? Well, what happened to Sophie Ellis: such carefully-constructed fantasies collapse like a house of cards. Many Anglo females apparently hit a crisis in their early Twenties (the vaunted 'Quarter-Life Crisis') when they realise they are not princesses strolling about a magic kingdom. The mass media aimed at Anglo-American women are all characterised by a relentless, homosocial narcissism, hammering home the message that they are 'special' and entitled to a personal pedestal. Because men are comparatively autonomous, free-thinking individuals governed by instinct, such messages have little purchase on them. But for women they are 'Holy Writ' and only 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' can prise such fantasies from them.
The article also raises questions about the state of Anglo-American education. Women now take up most college places, but what do they study? Usually 'Mickey Mouse' subjects like the humanities and liberal arts - seldom mathematics, computing, economics, science or engineering - that is, subjects with commercial utility. The whole 'dumbing down' of western education into a race where everyone gets a prize and where inferior culture is applauded in the highest seats of learning inheres closely to the rise of feminism (can't upset a real-life princess, can we?). But the blunt fact is, engagement with commercial reality cannot be delayed forever. Employers need graduates in Peace/Women's/Media Studies like they need an investigation by the IRS. There is a place for the canonical liberal arts and humanities in education, but the prosperity of any nation depends on its commercial, technical and scientific skills. Of course, these unpleasant facts are overlooked in the matriarchal Anglosphere where 'degrees' in finger-painting are handed out like confetti to females best-suited to stacking shelves or child-minding (if that). The only 'serious' subject women rule is law - again verbal, non-productive and commercially irrelevant. Is it any wonder that the Anglosphere is headed down the toilet?
But all is not lost. The article's relative lucidity and self-awareness rings a bell of hope. Is reality permeating the Anglobitch brain, at last? It is surely too early to talk about the beginning of the end of misandrist gender-feminism. However, for many young Anglo females the message DOES seems to be sinking in that they are not 'special', not 'princesses' and that employers, men and the world in general do not owe them anything. By confrontation and agitation, all Men's Rights activists must drive that message home: its impact is proven.