Recently, I overheard a Generation X-er (possibly a Baby Boomer) discussing one of the most universally discussed topics of a man of his age: the kids these days. Complaining about the day’s youth is a classic. Of course, there are many subcategories such as 1) get out of my yard, 2) who made them so damn entitled and 3) the shit they listen to is more noise than music. Ah, to be old and grumpy. I find it entertaining that no one realizes that this is a trait that is passed down from generation to generation. Every generation complains about the “kids these days.” It is a rite of passage. It isn’t really that different from a family history of high cholesterol. If your grandparents or parents complained about “the kids these days,” consider taking some Lipitor. This is just something to keep in mind as you age. But I digress.
Everyone knows the struggle of being young, but they forget later in life. The problems at hand always seem more serious than the ones in the rearview mirror. As a reminder to our older readers, the lessons learned in youth are tough too. I can’t speak to the experiences of other generations, but for Millennials, the tough lesson is that adulthood isn’t as advertised. We dream of how our lives will be, and at the behest of older soothsayers, we think we can achieve the ideal life. But one day, we look up from our textbooks, and we realize that we have a mountain of student loan debt. One day, we step away from the cubicle, and we realize that we work more hours in a week than we spend with loved ones. One day, we realize that are bombarded with the images of the life we can never obtain. It is tough out there!
We don’t know how to reroute, because this life is the culmination of our efforts, work and debt. How can we start again when we owe so much money? At the age of twenty-two, we thought we knew what we wanted. Now, a few years later, we realize we were wrong. What now? We really don’t know. The first time we tried to pick a path, it didn’t go well. We only know we don’t want to be here. Not here. Not in the indebted, unfulfilling corporate America indentured servitude. Knowing what you don’t want in life is helpful. Knowing what you want in life is helpful. Achieving what you want and realizing it isn’t any good for you is dreadful.
Remember the old adage: If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.
When you are young, you are idealistic. As you age, you become more pragmatic. It is the circle of life. Not even the fun version of the circle of life in which Elton John sings while vibrant animation welcomes a cute lion cub into their kingdom. Our version is the flute playing the “Funeral March” to C-SPAN. Let us be young. Just like you, we have growing pains. It is hypocrisy to forget the journey.