I guess I wouldn't be a proper 2010 era blogger if I didn't have a post about millennials. My generation.
Who picked that? I liked Generation Y a lot better. It's not until really, recently, that I've started seeing the phrase millennials everywhere. I think it's become a stereotype because no one ever really started marketing things to Gen Yers until someone said OH WAIT, TURN OF THE MILLENNIUM SO MILLENNIALS.
And now the marketing blitz is everywhere. And there's that image people have of millennials being lazy, selfish, entitled. And there are the defenses, no, we're not lazy, no, we are not selfish, no, we are not entitled....and it degenerates from there:
"WELL, MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE MAJORED IN ART HISTORY!"
"WELL MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE PRESSURED ME INTO BELIEVING THAT A COLLEGE DEGREE WAS THE ONLY WAY TO GET AHEAD IN LIFE"
"YEAH A DEGREE IN SCIENCE OR IN MATH!"
"DO YOU WANT A DOCTOR THAT GOT A C IN EVERY CHEMISTRY AND BIO CLASS HE TOOK?"
"UGH JUST GO AND FETCH YOUR PARTICIPATION TROPHY!"
"THE BOOMERS AND GENXERS STARTED THAT TRADITION!"
I'm 29 years old. I'm Generation Y/Millennial. The perceptions about millennials:
And this...this is a writing blog. But I'll get to writing about writing in a bit. Let me tell you about why sometimes there is bitterness between third-generation Latinos and new immigrants. Decades and decades ago, the Latinos that were here were not treated properly, and that's an understatement. They were killed, chased off their land (that their own ancestors fought the Mexican army for), beaten, arrested, lynched for being who they were. Spanish? I don't think so. The best they could do was forget their own language and ensure their children spoke nothing but English, learned nothing but American customs and traditions, all in order to avoid the difficulties they faced.
Then my wave comes along and we're bilingual, and we're spoiled because thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, Hernandez v. Texas, and Brown v. Board of Education, we weren't discriminated to the often-violent extent the Latinos that were here before were. Not that we didn't or don't face discrimination, but we no longer were required to forget everything we were to be able to thrive in this country. We brought our tortillas, our tamales, we popularized the breakfast taco (disregard anyone that says it originated in Austin or San Antonio). We brought our language.
So, there is a clash because on one hand there's one group that's going "wow, these people aren't doing things the way we did grrrrrr" and another group that's going "wow, these jokers look like us but they're not doing things the way we do grrrrr"
I see that "OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY" comparison manifest itself in the Gen Y vs Gen X struggle, too. The Boomer generation, their parents went to Europe and Japan and alongside the rest of the world helped whoop Hitler and Hirohito.
Yes, the rest of the world helped, too. Mexicans helped a lot with the bracero program and the Aztec Eagles, by the way. So they come back and out come the Baby Boomers and they have all this post-war wealth to go around. If you found a schtick, you worked hard for it, and bam, money, money everywhere! But things aren't always that neat. And they came of age in the 60s and gave us the beginnings of the rift between left and right that we're still dealing with today. So our generation comes along after the Gen Xers and are influenced by both the jadedness of the 80s and the distrust of the government that really started, I think, during the Civil Rights era. The fact that it was the Boomers seeing over 200,000 of their children become casualties of war probably didn't help much, either. But the idea remained: work hard, go to college, don't trust the government, and everything will come your way.
But that's not the case.
Millennials work multiple jobs or have to deal with a horrifying job market and the net result is that we don't get access to the wealth that the boomers had at their disposal.
I've already written about the handicaps a liberal arts major like myself could get saddled with. But they're handicaps I had no option but to take. I was terrible at--scratch that, I AM terrible at math. Why should I go into the sciences? Do you want me designing the safety features in the machines that protect you? COME ON.
"Well, there's the trades--"
Yes, and the trades are incredibly valuable and lucrative. I mean an HVAC technician stands to make a lot of good money in Houston.
(Go on, spend a summer without AC in South Texas. Go on.)
But I'm not a tradesman.
I'm a writer. And yeah, thanks to shoes like Girls or Sex and the City and people have this stereotype of writers being lazy moochers who do nothing. Write a few things, and BOOM you've got yourself enough money to pay for a $3,000 a month apartment in the nice part of New York and still have enough for daily food outings, groceries, and nice dinners.
So someone sees a 20-something dude writing and they go haha look at that weirdo, he's WRITING maybe he wants someone to pick up his screenplay haha LAWL.
I mean, maybe he is, and if so, SO WHAT? Jesus, can't people have fantasies? I have very specific plans as to what I'd do if I won the lottery. Will it happen? No, but it's a good mental fun experiment. I also would like for one of my short story collections to be optioned and made into a miniseries. Is it unrealistic? Maybe, but it's within the realm of possibility. It's also more realistic than a CONCACAF team winning the World Cup.
And to make those dreams come true, I have to do my part. There's no way I'm getting optioned if I'm not writing. A Dios rogando y con el palo dando is good life philosophy. It's like suiting up to fight Conor McGregor. 100% chance I get crushed if I stand there and not do anything. But if I start swinging, there's a 0.01% chance I get a hit in.
If you're the kind of millennial that believes in that, good. If you're not, please take note: Writing is well and easy when you've got that idea going. The rest of the time? It's hard. It requires a lot of discipline. It requires putting in hours writing that you'd rather be spending working out, playing videogames, spending time with friends, even sleeping. There have been several times over the course of the last few months where I've fallen asleep at my desk because I was so tired the cool glass of my desk was actually comfortable. This is not to glorify exhaustion, but it is to make you guys see that this job is maybe, to paraphrase an old cliché, 5% divine inspiration and the rest nothing but hustle. I come home from work, spend some time with my gf before she goes to bed, I make/eat dinner, then start writing and don't stop until past midnight.
Here is the reality we are faced with -- hustle is all we have to improve our lot in life. Yes, there are cases where the odds are stacked up against us, but we have no option but to out-hustle, and out-work, and outpace everyone else. Is that fair? No. It's not fair that people of color have to change their names on their resumes to help find a job. It's not fair that a rich white kid can claim "affluenza" and being drunk and get away with probation after killing four and wounding nine in a car accident while the same judge can sentence people of color to 10 years for much less and while there are thousands upon thousands young black and Latino kids doing 20 for an ounce of weed. None of that is fair. But you know what, as millennials, and as POC millennials, that is the lot we are dealt in life and either we rise to the occasion and prove the curmudgeonly old fucks wrong OR we sit on our ass and prove them right.
Y'all know I love country music, right? Here's a song.
Dad, I wonder if I ever let you down
If you're ashamed how I turned out
Well, he lowered his voice, then he raised his brow
Said, let me tell ya right now
That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
You don't need to make a million
Just be thankful to be workin'
If you're doing what you're able
And putting food there on the table
And providing for the family that you love
That's something to be proud of
And if all you ever really do is the best you can
Well, you did it man
I liked those lyrics when I first heard the song close to 11 years ago and I still like them now because I do feel them. Yeah, I'd like to get paid more. Who wouldn't? But I'm also thankful I have a job, and I'm thankful that having that job affords me the opportunity to have my second "job" which is my actual career and nurture it.
And I am not the only one. There are a lot of these millennials making inroads into self-publishing and trad-publishing working their assess off. There's a podcast I like, Dead Robots Society. One of the reasons I like listening to those guys is that two of the hosts, well, three since I started listening when it was Scott Roche, Paul E. Cooley, and Terry Mixon had that double balance of "WOO NINE-TO-FIVE PANTS JOB!" and "WOO WRITING JOB!" Maybe they're Gen Xers but there's a lot of Millennials who are just like that, and we should be okay with it. We should be okay with confidently saying, you know what, I want to create stories. I want to write. I want to be a playwright. I want to be a painter. I want to be a musician. GOOD. OWN UP TO IT.
The road isn't always easy. Most creative types out there work a main job or a side-job to finance their artistic pursuits, and we shouldn't turn up our nose at some work. I very briefly did sales after I left law school and it was a horrible experience I never want to go through again...but it got me money. I have come across people (from my generation, from the Genxers, from the boomers) who won't work a "real job" or sell their stuff and make money because it compromises their artistic integrity. At one point I remember someone comparing writers who do that to prostitutes. I laughed from the comfort of my own, air-conditioned house and my own laptop. I find that sort of arrogance transcends generations.
I don't think Millennials are solely responsible for these feelings of entitlement, but I do think that some of us have to temper our expectations.
"Well, I went to Southern Methodist to get an English degree, and now I'm underemployed."
"Why didn't you go to a state school? A community college then transferred?"
"Did you work during college? Network?"
"No, I just--"
"Then shut up."
Y'all, I'm a liberal arts major, but I knew the consequences of picking that going in. I saved money going the community college way. I don't regret it. I would have loved to have gone to Rice and SMU (who have beautiful campuses) or UH and Texas A&M with my friends, but it wasn't in the cards and I adapted to my community college and my university. And you know what? I loved my experience there. I made some life-long friends at work. The work I put in helped me down the road in getting me jobs.
So I don't feel too connected with people from my generation who a) did nothing then b) are doing nothing but bellyaching now.
Now, don't get me wrong, you can do everything the "right way" and still find yourself with a bad hand, and that's fine. I mean, every American making under $500,000 a year is pretty much always one bad sickness away from total bankrupcy. But that's not who I'm talking about.
Blog title from: As Tall As Lions - In case of rapture