The general assumption about my generation is that we are “lazy people with unrealistic expectations who want a lot of things out of life without having to work for it.”
It’s true that some of us look at our phone too often, or have grown this inexplicable adoration for cat videos, or avoid participating in politics. The Internet has replaced taking drugs – for some – and hipsters have become the new hippies. I won’t deny any of this, except for one thing: My generation is no more lazy than the men and women who came before.
You know why most of us move back home with our parents after college? Do you understand how difficult it is to stand on your own two feet when the odds are stacked against you? Here in the States, if you want to lease a car and you’re under the age of 25, they jack up the cost. Same thing for car insurance, because anyone between the age of 18 and 24 is considered a risk. You can hardly call it fair, considering that there are plenty of people older than me who drive a lot more recklessly.
When you decide to leave the nest, you have to consider the following costs:
- Rent, plus security deposit and most places will ask you to pay the first and last month’s worth of rent.
- Possibly renter’s insurance, which isn’t terribly expensive compared to any other insurance, but an additional cost nonetheless.
- Possibly an application fee when you try to get the apartment in the first place.
- On top of that, you have bills for water, gas, electricity, cable/Internet, maybe parking and pet rent.
- Gas, monthly lease payment, car insurance and if you’re unlucky or don’t take care of your vehicle, repair costs.
- Depending on where you live, you may have to pay the city to pick up your garbage. I have heard of some neighborhoods where people are so poor, they burn their trash when it isn’t picked up.
- Health insurance.
- Money for food, water, clothes, and household essentials (soap, toilet paper, etc.).
- If you have children, that’s even more money going towards diapers, food, school supplies, and so forth.
Now I’m one of the lucky ones who finished college without a mountain of student loans clawing on my back, but imagine what that does to someone who’s trying to get a job in their field. Imagine them having to accept a minimum wage job or two when it doesn’t work out immediately. Imagine the interest going up as they struggle to make ends meet.
I have friends who are doing fine taking care of themselves, but not without having to split the costs between themselves. For example, a friend of mine shares an apartment with three other women, drives her dad’s old van and works like a dog at a restaurant as a manager. Another friend of mine had to quit school for a while when her financial aid didn’t come through. She had to move back with her mom and start working two jobs. At one point it was three when she had a temporary position at Planned Parenthood. It wasn’t until last year she could afford a (crappy) place on her own. Only recently did she return to her studies and she’s getting a better place but she has to share it with three or four other people.
I’m not trying to make excuses. My point is, things are more expensive than when our parents were our age. Getting a decent job has become a competition. Having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t seem to mean anything to employers anymore; they want someone with a master’s, five years experience and superpowers. It doesn’t help that we’re trying to spread our wings during a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. It doesn’t help that the government is spending more money on the military than public education.
My point is… we’re doing our best and every day, we try to make the most out of things. We want more than $8.15 an hour, and we work hard to get there.