Talkin’ Bout My Generation

Andrew: My God, are we gonna be like our parents?
Claire: Not me…ever.
Allison: It’s unavoidable, it just happens.
Claire: What happens?
Allison: When you grow up, your heart dies.  

This is dialogue from The Breakfast Club.  I used to like this movie because I thought it was fun and entertaining.  Not until recently did it actually mean something to me.  It summarized the themes of conversations around my university dinner table.  That’s right, the college kid is in town. 

I am in the 15-25 year range.  Our 3rd leading cause of death is suicide.  There is 1 suicide for every 100-200 attempts.  In 2005, 16.9% of high school students had considered suicide in the 12 months prior to the survey.  Our problem?   It hurts too much to go on.  The problems never seem to end and nobody seems to really listen or ask the right questions.  It’s less about dying and more about escape.

If we make it through: 79% of us (13-25) wants to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society.  More than ever, college graduates are taking a gap year to work for non-profit organizations.  Our motivation?  To not be what we watch, what we play and what we listen to.  And in the end, it’s about making sure that the problems we see are eliminated.  We are only as strong as our weakest member.

I used relish in the idea of being an adult.  I would have complete control of my life.  Then I realized that being young is the most freedom I will ever have… if I become the adult America wants me to be.  Allison (the “freak”) says that our hearts die when we become adults.  My generation does not want to be adults because we are afraid.  We do not want our hearts to die. We do not want our passion to diminish.  It seems a little ironic that we don’t want our hearts to die, yet so many of us attempt or at least think about suicide.  It happens because we are passionate and every detail in our lives is blown up.  Our hearts are very alive and we take everything magnifyed compared to adults.  So we escape through getaways and some can’t find one, so they decide to leave.  At the root of it all, the adventure in life that we seek is too appealing to let go for the tainted adulthood that awaits us.  Whoever said it gets better when you get older was lying.  It only gets better when you make it happen, at any age.  That’s the part left out of the education system.  As a young adult, though, sometimes we only have tunnel vision.  We know we’ll need to grow up, but the pressure can be too much.  It may be pressure different from past generations, but it is still very real.

For those of us who find the strength to make it through the misunderstanding and the pressure, we seek to change the world and make it easier for future generations.  The public activism of older generations has been transformed into personal activism within our specific lives.  Still, we are reluctant to enter the “real world.”  We were told immaturity, peer pressure and all the “teen” issues stopped at adulthood.  The truth is that they only become more passive aggressive and more institutionalized.  I’m sure any adult in the workplace can testify. 

Adulthood:   

  • Discovery of new things becomes limited
  • Freedom – only within the reigns of what is accepted by society; you make choice based on how you think you will be percieved
  • Honesty happens less – desparate housewives is based on a true story
  • It’s harder to apologize
  • You lose touch with your children’s generation 
  • The workplace is horrible (see “The Office” but in real life)
  • It’s harder to change (adults rarely evaluate their beliefs when questioned)
  • The illusion of being “too old” – you are never “too” old, why does this thought happen

The 15-25 Getaway:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse (more than just use) – instant relief from reality
  •  Music.  It expresses us.  It listened before we talked.
  •  Art.  It says without having to bother with words.  It is a translation.
  • Sex (abuse).  Somebody needs to love us, this is the easiest way to get it.
  • The internet.  What we write, what we read, it’s ours.  Nobody else has to interfere.
  • Video Games.  Fun.  Not schoolwork, news, parents, pressure. It stimulates.
  • Books and Magazines.  Something else.  Someone else.  Something more.  Something better.  

These getaways shouldn’t be necessary.  It’s not just our problem.  18-25 years and younger is not enough time to evaluate and then screw up.  The growing up process needs help from society.  It takes a village to raise a child.  The movies, games, music and television aren’t the only problems.  In the words of John Wooden, “Young people need models, not critics.”

The Point: 
This isn’t only for adults; this is a point for my peers too.  What you see on the surface of 18-25 yr olds is not what lies beneath.  The truth is never shown at first glance.  It is always put at a deeper position so that it can be earned.  If you’re a parent, stop talking, believe me, they know where you stand and they’ve taken from you what they think they need.  There’s so much you do not know despite how much they tell you.  If you’re a “child expert”, you don’t know the half of it.  If you’re just an adult, re-evaluate what you think.  If your one of us, screw it and just do what you need to do, this is your only chance to make sure that when you grow up, “you’re heart doesn’t die.”  The power to change the world is already in our hands.  We don’t have to do it like our parents; we can be the change, not protest for it.  Change what adulthood means.  Make it about discovery, learning, maturing and acceptance.  

Most importantly, never let your heart die. (too you adults, get it back and poppin’)

Stats and Facts (evaluate your views):

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/suicide/
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-12-12-emerging-adults_N.htm?csp=34&POE=click-refer
http://www.marcandangel.com/2007/08/17/what-is-adulthood-20-defining-characteristics-of-a-true-adult/
Business Today Magazine. Fall 2007. Volume 44, Issue 2. – put out by Princeton (not my college. nope.)  It’s a good read for young aspiring adults and adults who want a refreshing perpective.

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2 Responses to Talkin’ Bout My Generation

  1. lpkalal says:

    Howdy. I am an adult. In the “I could be your mother” range of years. And I have to say, I don’t believe the following are true of me nor of many of my friends (I am speaking of the AARP generation!!)

    Discovery of new things becomes limited NOT (lived in Russia at 30; travel as much as possible; raising little kids)
    Freedom – only within the reigns of what is accepted by society; you make choice based on how you think you will be percieved NOT (less now than ever!)
    Honesty happens less – desparate housewives is based on a true story NOT: just wiser about when to say the truth
    It’s harder to apologize NOT
    You lose touch with your children’s generation NOT: Just attended Hannah Montana concert.
    The workplace is horrible (see “The Office” but in real life) NOT: gets better and better
    It’s harder to change (adults rarely evaluate their beliefs when questioned) NOT: see my blog
    The illusion of being “too old” – you are never “too” old, why does this thought happen NOT: my age makes no sense to me: I feel infinitely younger.

    The best part of getting older is you lose the bad ambition so you can have good ambition.

  2. baptizedbyice says:

    Maybe you are the type adult that my friends and I want to be, but in my life, the things you have listed are a rarity. I can see that saying that appears to make me a hypocrite as I said in my post that there is more beneath the surface of what we see, but here’s my explanation of what I’ve seen in the majority of AARP adults I know (parents, teachers, etc)

    Every family at my grade school and high school put on the face of the perfect family. They throw Christmas parties, attend church regularly and attend all of their chidrens games, but they don’t know when their kids come to school they tell the truth: alcoholism, abuse, depression, the affairs…everything represented on Desperate Housewives. Although some parents (many in fact) know what music we listen too, or what we watch, play and talk about, as we get older they don’t know why (questions of “how can you listen to that”, “these games are destroying you”). It’s less about knowing what we are doing and realizing where it came from. I commend you for the Hannah Montana because that shows a mother who is trying, but when she gets older there will be concerts you may refuse to attend with her.

    By losing touch I also meant with our needs in religion, politics, etc. Our beliefs in general are very different from those of your generation. Even though our parents were the hippies of yesterday, a lot them have forgotten what it mean to have their parents let them make their own decisions on the complicated stuff.

    Harder to change: Look at the political debates today. How many of those people are ready to change their views. Look at many of the arguments online today, how many of those people are willing to change. Look at the amount of people who say my generation doesn’t care about anything and we slack off. Are they going to change? The amount of adults I have seen in my life compared to the people my age who are seeking information in order to better themselves is a lot lower.

    The workplace: a lot of adults hate their jobs despite loving the content of their jobs, shows like the office are based on people like that. Working for a lot of people is not fun in the lower class, middle class and upper class. I didn’t just pull this stuff from no where. When I go to those wonderful Christmas parties the neighboors throw, my friends and I hear a lot we’re not supposed to.

    As far as freedom and discovery. Most of that was covered above, but social boundaries limit adults way more than my generation, that’s why we’re immature to AARP folks. I hope I’m still “immature” when I get older. The limit on personal freedom is why families have so many secrets, why manners are more important than expression and why the state of America is judgemental and a big turnoff to so many countries. The older generations are so restricted in their views.

    I see that you are being the best mother and person that you know how to be, and from your own blog and some of the things you said here, you seem to be a better adult than some I have seen, but if your oldest daughter is the Hannah Montana one, I think you have a long way to go before you truly appreciate the full value of what I say.

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