Sucking on a lemon
When I was a child, I felt like all I had was possibility ahead of me. Movies and television at the time seemed to be very focused on the narrative of bullied misfits having great success later in life. It felt like the worse your life was up to the age of 18, the better your life would be as an adult. A trade, so to speak. North American karmic justice. The moral arc of the universe personally bending itself toward justice for me personally.
And while I guess a large part of adulthood is coming to terms with the fact that life is not fair (anyone else still hear that phrase spoken by the voice of the meanest adult in their life going up?), it feels like things are particularly unfair in 2023. Maybe I wouldn’t be a successful writer if I was born 20 years earlier, but I would have a job that would allow me to support myself, have a house and a car, and maybe allowed me to write on weekends. There were a lot of shitty jobs, but there were some good ones, bearable ones, weren’t there? There has to be a reason why the older generations cannot fathom the reality that most of us find ourselves in these days, right? There was once a time when their beliefs about how the world works actually matched up with reality, wasn’t there? Why does it sound like I’m begging for this to be true (because I am)?
I don’t know - I guess it doesn’t matter anyway since that just isn’t the world we live in anymore. I’ve seen the best minds of my generation fail to get past the 3rd interview for a minimum wage barista job, even when they’ve been slinging lattes since high school.
Somewhere along the line, it seems like it was decided by the people who have the power to do so that making millions and billions of dollars a year was not enough. Now their profits have to grow exponentially every year too. More and more and more. So much money that it couldn’t be spent by them, their children, or their grandchildren in their lifetimes even if they were all trying their best to do so. Money for no reason, for no purpose, just numbers on a page really.
And it seems like one of the ways these profits are being achieved now is by not hiring people to fill empty positions or by making the hiring process so difficult and awful that people drop out. This guarantees the fewest people doing the most amount of work - profit hack, I guess. Then they provide some quotes to the papers of record about how no one wants to work anymore and the almost two decades of said papers setting up millennials as stupid, entitled children does its work on the public’s imagination.
That’s as far as I can reason it, anyway. My useless undergraduate degree is not in economics, so I’m probably missing a few nuances here.
It’s a lot of words to say that I wake up now, in adulthood, feeling a crushing weight on my chest and forgetting what possibility even felt like. Is this too bitter?