THE BROKE GENERATION
Is there such thing as being too idealistic? Apparently so, because this is why millennials are the poorest generation to date. How fucked up is that? We are the largest living population in the U.S., but the brokest. And according to the baby boomers and older generations, it is because we are making all the wrong decisions in life.
When you read the term, ‘millennial poverty’, it almost sounds like a joke. But there is nothing funny about feeling poor, while you are young, ambitious and educated. Especially when it feels like there is no end in sight. We are crushing under student loans, credit card debt, and lack of sustainable employment. And the way gentrification is hitting the boroughs, we may not even be able to afford to live anywhere in New York City. It is a wonder that some of us find time, money, or motivation to maintain a “healthy” diet, exercise, and a social life.
It is known that millennials value experiences over buying homes. And we prefer to work somewhere that makes us happy as opposed to just making bank.Our generation is the one that supposedly wants it all. But much to our downfall, we simply can’t afford it. We still live at home with our parents, are waiting longer to have kids, and have no immediate plans to buy a home.
We have it harder than any other generation, and yet we are constantly portrayed as vain and spoiled. It is frustrating, to say the least. I am not writing this to agree or disagree with that. But how does millennial poverty affect our health, self-esteem, fulfillment, and social wellness?
It is ok to finally admit to ourselves: WE ARE ALL BROKE.
And this is because we are not following the “success sequence” correctly. Yup, we are doing life all wrong. The Success Sequence, according to W. Bradford Wilcox and Wendy Wang is as follows:
- Graduate high school or equivalent
- Get a full-time job
- Marry before children
This is supposedly the correct path towards economic success. Except, nothing is that easy. Not at all. You can barely get a decent full-time entry level position with a bachelor’s degree. And, when there are more jobs with stability and a good company culture, we will get right on that. And marriage, yes let’s rush into that, without feeling fulfilled in the other aspects of our lives That sounds great. Sike.
So no, millennials are not following the success sequence, because it’s bullshit.
Not to mention, this assumes that we are all on a level playing field. We must take into account, race, socioeconomic status, and gender.I am a black woman, and that alone makes it harder for me to experience the success even after having followed the sequence. Race, gender, sexuality, and class has everything to do with how we progress in life. And no matter how simple the sequence sounds, for some, this success is just not likely to be attainable. Aspects of the sequence go hand in hand with additional advantages all Americans just don’t have, no matter what generation. And that is just the truth.
Millennials are just trying to get by, to find happiness. We have all been there: sitting at home with all of our roommates, trolling Instagram, and watching everyone have what seems like a “real life”. It is hard to think about travel, our health, or going out for a nice dinner when you can barely afford necessities like health care and rent in New York City. You are not alone in this.
Lack of financial security creates feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. It allows us to only make decisions in the short term because we don’t have any money. This gets in the way of our health, physically and mentally. And in turn, how we connect with others.
How many times have you had to cancel plans because you simply couldn’t afford it? Or because you felt you couldn’t buy a new outfit? Does it get awkward when you go to dinner with friends and the bill comes? Have you had to hide behind being, “anti-social”, but in reality you are broke? How does it feel when you look in the mirror or when you are walking down the crowded New York City streets of professionals?
This is when our inner voice begins to bring us down. We start to feel like we are not worthy, the color leaves our cheeks and the twinkle in our eyes are gone. It becomes infectious. A whole generation is feeling hopeless, negative, and unworthy. This is a problem. This is the energy that will spread and only grow worse.
There are not many options for millennials aside from hoping things will change. But we can be more vocal about the lack of opportunities, and unrealism to following the “success sequence”. We can reach out to our friends and family, who need help. Not just financial needs but someone to listen. Let’s go back to kindergarten, Sharing is Caring. Let us not let our lack of funds prevent us from making meaningful connections with each other.
Start taking advantage of New York City again. It is almost impossible to have nothing to do in this city. There are also tons of free events, activities, and even health & wellness activities across the five boroughs. The quality of our lives is directly related to the quality of our relationships. Shake it up, make friends outside of your world and let the city lead you to new opportunities.
There are so many times we want to pay more attention the what makes us different. When it comes to how we connect with each other, it is all about what we don’t have in common. But if we spent that much energy communicating and finding out what we have in common. We could ease a lot the unnecessary tensions and competition millennials have with each other. Communal living can be the next wave of social wellness trend.