I like my hopes and dreams how I liked my Avocado – smashed.
Growing up, I feel like the majority of my generation have been fairly used to hearing the same thing again and again from our elders: “Back in my day, things were a lot tougher, you kids these days don’t know the meaning of hard work!” In my younger years, this seemed to be a fairly good point. I didn’t have to walk a bazillion miles to the nearest bus stop every day for school. In my school days, the greatest punishment I could have feared for having a giggle in class would have been being moved to the front of the room, rather than a slap across the knuckles. I didn’t have to lug water home from a well, I’ve never had to traipse to the bog to gather turf, and I’ve never had to do my days fair share of work on a farm. I’ve grown up with machines that can wash my clothes, and I only briefly recall the tedium of having to look up information in an actual encyclopedia, before a machine and a webpage called Google replaced most of the hard work that researching your school work entailed too. So, yes, I have to admit that in many ways, us young ones have an easy time of it. But the older I’ve grown, and more the realty of adulthood has started to sink in, the more I’m beginning to disagree that life is far from a walk in the park for us millennials.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the jargon, millennials is a term used to describe the generation born anywhere between the early 1980s to the late 90s, who are now aged roughly in their early twenties to late thirties. This means we’re a pretty varied bunch – some would have been in their late teens when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, while other weren’t even born yet. But despite our generation’s multitude of differences, there are a number of life experiences we’ve all had in common. For example, being the generation most adversely impacted by the Great Recession of 2008, when many millennials would have been just finishing school and university, or in the early stages of their careers. Now, 2008 was obviously a pretty daunting time for those graduating and trying to get a foot in the door in the world of work, but the recession also had hidden impacts that stretch to those of us who were only teens when the economic downturn started. Ten years on from the crisis, economists have noted that we as a generation may be unlikely to ever accumulate the same level of wealth that our parents did. In fact, I’ll take it one further than that, to a headline that I heard on the BBC News as I watched one night with my mother, that shared the uplifting news that many of us millennials are unlikely to ever have any wealth or to own property unless we inherit it from our parents. What a handy dandy time of it we have, us millennials, getting everything handed to us on a plate!
In fact, besides inheritance, the property ladder is at risk of being off limits to many of us. As I got ready for work one day recently, I had the joy of hearing another inspiring news story, again from the BBC, stating that four in ten young people today would be unable to afford to buy even the cheapest housing on the market, even if they had the money saved for a deposit. Amazing! And so, the hopes and dreams of our generation are now, literally, at rock bottom, to the point where being able to live in even the most basic of housing is aspirational. Never mind a mansion on a hill, and in fact, never mind a white picket fence. For us millennials, being able to move out of your parents’ house into four walls and a roof is living the dream!
The real stickler for me though, the hardest pill to swallow of them all, is that back in our parent’s day, you could buy a whole house for what would barely count as a deposit these days. Makes you think we may as well revel in our hipster millennial fancies like smashed avocado on toast and pumpkin spice lattes, because we’ll never be able to afford anything else fancy anyway!
But economics is only the start of it. When you get past that, you’ve also the teeny little problem of climate change and the fact that the generations before us have literally destroyed the planet and left us to live in the polluted ruins. Talk about drawing the short straw! Now, of course I don’t entirely blame my past relatives for the state of the O Zone layer or the plastic in our oceans. Like I said, my parents and grandparents had to walk to school, wash their clothes by hand and grow a lot of their own food. Their carbon footprint was probably pretty small individually, but our ancestors all over the world as a collective over the past century have all but desecrated our globe’s natural resources. And now our generation are left to pick up the pieces and fear for the future, and I’m left here in the year 2018 feeling immensely guilty every time I use a straw or a balloon in case it kills a fish. And as climate experts are announcing that we have just about 12 years to right our wrongs and save the planet, it falls to us to make sustainable lifestyle changes, but when certain leaders of the free world have decided they don’t “believe” in global warming (as if it were the bogeyman and not a scientifically evidenced occurrence) it’s hard to imagine that much will change, or that we will indeed be able to save what remains of our planet.
And on the subject of politics, don’t even get me started. We’re the first generation to grow up in Northern Ireland post ceasefire, with some semblance of peace and the beginnings of prosperity. Just when things were starting to look hopeful for us, our Government goes KAPOOT and leaves us with no decisions, no government and no means of moving forward. And with Brexit looming, things are looking more and more uncertain for our futures. And really, while I feel us millennials have gotten the short end of the stick, it’s the next generation I fear for the most. If we’ve gotten a bad deal, what kind of a life will we be leaving for them?