The 2007-2009 recession, now being called the Great Recession, hit us very hard. So many people were affected by jobs lost and long periods of unemployment, businesses going under, home foreclosures, and hard earned retirement money disappearing when the stock market fell. With media coverage on loss, more loss, and potential loss, we are given plenty to worry about. The middle class, retirement age, the wealthy, new hires, long term employees, Generation X-ers, and twentysomethings — all were affected.
A group with an interesting perspective is made up of those who are just beginning to build careers – “Twentysomethings.” The twentysomethings of today are taking bigger roles in society and our economy at a rough time. But what do they think of all this? Are they a group that can bring youthful hope and resiliency to the low times we are in, or are they stepping out into the world like deer in headlights? What do THEY worry about? What do they hope for?
The twentysomethings are members of “Generation Y,” and also known as the “Millennial Generation.” Following Generation X, the “Millennial” are a group that has been raised to believe that you can do whatever youwant to do, be whoever you want to be. “The world is your oyster.” “The sky’s the limit!” and so on. Many twentysomethings have been babied, protected, and encouraged. For these young adults, if you love your job and work hard at it, getting laid off is an unfamiliar, unjust ego blow. This may make the twentysomethings of today sound spoiled and delusional. But if we look around and listen, it is inspiring to find that many are determined idealists, an attitude needed in tired, hard economic times.
Many twentysomethings worry about our planet and the future of our race as humans more than anything, which seems to trump our economic troubles. San Francisco twentysomething Andrew Westhoff feels, “If we mess up the planet too much for us to live well into the future, then wars, economic crises, and how I’m going to pay back my student loans, just all seem to pale in comparison.” Some are waiting for the recession to pass. Andrew Hoolhorst of San Francisco, Ca. says, “I’m hopeful the economy will be fine sooner than people assume. Everything happens in ‘OH MY GOD!’ panics in America.” Some feel the media is responsible for fear mongering and that things are not nearly as bad as they seem. JuwonSays @Dinwizzle on Twitter says, “Yessir! I came out of the mental recession a while ago. I hope we can inspire others to do the same!” Some have faith President Obama will do what’s necessary to get us out of the recession. Hoolhorst adds, “We’ll be just fine. We got Obama. That’s like knowing God is your starting pitcher. But for the next four years straight.” Some say they don’t even really feel the recession. Twitter poster sameechie @chamillionaire says, “i say what recession because i was broke before the recession so i’m not gonna worry over it. i gotta keep going regardless.”
For Generation Y, the fight to start a career is harder than ever. When asked if she thinks it is a luxury to love your job, twentysomething Arum Rae of Savannah, Georgia. says, “No, it’s a necessity.” Benjamin Boucvalt of Sarasota, Florida, Says, “A job, to me, is a calling. A position on this earth that was made specifically for me to serve humanity. If everyone answered that call, I don’t see how you couldn’t love your job. We all have a talent or gift that drives us and we all can direct that in a way to make a living.” In that respect, trying to start your career as a twentysomething today, being in a recession is just another bump in the assumed hard road to your “calling.” Rich Morin and Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center found that “Younger adults have taken the worst lumps in the job market but remain relatively upbeat about their financial future.” In their article, “Different Age Groups, Different Recessions,” Morin and Taylor add, “Younger adults are among the most confident of any age group that they will have enough money in their retirement years.” Perhaps this is because our younger adults are at the beginnings of their careers and have the most time to build their futures. Career hunting in tough economic times is how these Generations Y-ers are learning the ropes. “I’d rather be happy than just ‘employed.’ You can always find a job. You can’t always find a job you like,” writes Andrew Hoolhorst. Many Millennial don’t own homes or have their own families yet, so what’s at stake are their own happiness and their goals. Gen Y-ers are in a place where they can take risks, even in a recession, to get where they want to be.
Tallying current economic data and watching plenty of news media can be discouraging. While idealistic, the Millennial are definitely not worry free, nor are they disillusioned. Young adult Christopher Custodio of Los Angeles feels “it is a wonderful bonus to love your job. In today’s time, it may be a luxury to have a job. Also due to the times, we have to re-think luxury.” Twentysomethings like Elizabeth Logan of San Mateo, Ca. are concerned with being able to balance the things most important to them. She writes, “Most people that I know work at jobs that they hate, and exchange time for money and have no family/work balance.” Another San Francisco twentysomething, Dianna Lawrence says, “I wish that everyone could love their job and I respect anyone who holds a job they hate because they need the money to survive.” But looking to our young work force in hard times can be refreshing. Andrew Westhoff is “hopeful about the will and adaptability of the human species. So far they’ve managed to push through any crisis that’s been thrown at them. New problems will arise but we are too smart to let them get us down.” Katie Stephens of San Leandro, Ca. expresses, “I generally believe with time and a little effort all things can move in a progressive fashion. If you are never trying to be a part of the solution of the things you worry about then what is the sense in worrying about them. I am hopeful that the steps I take today will help better all things I am not satisfied with.”
Hope and responsibility for us and our future are themes that pop up often with our twentysomethings, often accused of being whiners. Faced with the economy’s recession as their first experience with a big economic challenge, Gen Y-ers are ready to prove they’ve got plenty of fight. Benjamin Boucvalt writes, “I could play a few cards, for instance: “There aren’t that many jobs out there that interest me,’ ‘It’s so competitive that my chances are slim,’ ‘I would have to start all over,’ etc. etc. etc. Some people might say this while thinking loving your job is a luxury. You know what I have to say to them… Bulls #*!… There are no excuses when it comes to happiness.”
About the Author
Valerie Lynn Brett is a freelance writer and part time acting student with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.