The fact that our economy sucks and unemployment rates are high has been done to death, but bear with me. I want to bring attention to an issue that doesn’t have anything to do with your future houses, jobs and cars or potential lack thereof. It’s this simple concept called happiness that our generation could miss out on. Merely the mention of our economy stresses us out and makes us unhappy, but we’re too busy worrying about money to realize how that strain is affecting us.
Our parents just don’t get it. We are no longer disgruntled teenagers, but generational divides are getting in the way again. Our parents, for the most part, went to high school. If they so chose, they went on to university or college afterwards, where they graduated (though not necessarily) and moved on to get a job. Fill in the blanks with some kids, some SUVs and a few major holidays. Our generation has not been as fortunate. Affectionately known as the “Boomerang” generation because we leave home just to end up right back on our parents couch, we’re struggling to follow the footsteps set out by the generation before us.
Due to the rough economy, students are staying in school longer than ever to avoid the workforce. The ominous job field has become a place we fear and the majority of us don’t feel enthusiastic about joining it. We’ve seen the graduates before us, even those over-achiever jerks, struggle to find their place in the world after they graduate. Does that make you want to get out there and see what job you land? Personally, it makes me want to set up fort in the Killam Library until I’m 40 years old.
Arts majors are generally fearful about doing anything that isn’t teaching, medical school applicants are having nervous breakdowns and second-year English students are writing their LSATs now in anticipation of writing them multiple times. These are examples of the feelings and actions of my real-life peers. From the honours student to that guy who only shows up for midterms, we’re all anxious about the future. Yet we’re all so focused on the financial and economical that we’ve stopped paying attention to how the pressure is affecting our demeanours and attitudes. For those who haven’t thought ahead to post-grad life, everything can come falling down along with their thrown graduation cap.
So what is our generation doing about it? We’re known for binge-drinking and partying. According to Statistics Canada, percentages of heavy drinking jump sharply for both males and females during the ages of 18 to 24. In general, as of 2008, surveys showed that age-standardized percentages of heavy drinking have risen from the years 2000 and 2001. This binge-drinking and partying suggests escapism through the use of other substances to help us cope or unwind. It seems that our generation’s greatest joys are closely linked to practices associated with depression. For example, in response to the recent suicide of Amanda Todd, a man named David Brideau gave his testimony of his personal struggles with suicidal thoughts. His testimony included the statement, “I think what stopped me from the brink of suicide was escapism.”
People use escapism to forget real-life problems and numb their worries. Maybe that’s because we feel entitled to a good time, but maybe we need to start thinking about how to ensure our real happiness in the future. Maybe statistics need to start examining suicide rates of post-graduate students instead of the rates of employment after graduation. As a generation we need hope as well as jobs.
So I’ll continue to make jokes about hanging out at the medical school library in the hopes of finding a future husband who’s a rich doctor. But jokes aside, remember when you’re planning your future to keep your happiness in mind. It’s just as important as providing for your financial well-being.