Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You Say You Want Diamonds on a Ring of Gold?

I hate whiners. I always have. Among other things I hate: suck ups, goody two shoes, teachers' pets, spoiled little rich kids and people who cannot laugh at themselves. There other things that go on the lists of things I hate but I am trying to keep this blog post concise. There will be other days to elaborate on the long list of other things I hate.

An article was posted yesterday about how 20 and 30-somethings are entitled whiners who want to have super exciting and fulfilling careers that pay them stupendously well and have perfect lives that put their facebook friends' lives to shame and they want to do that and have a couple of paid week long vacations to phenomenal places a year. I nodded. And I heard a lot of my peers in this article. The article wasn't scientific. It wasn't perfect. But it was funny and it made some incredible points. Things that people need to hear about themselves. And frankly, things I need to be reminded of.

And the backlash. Oh it's mighty. So many of my generation explaining "You don't know what it is like to have student debt." "The job market sucks." "I am living with my parents in their 5 bedroom house and I feel inadequate." "We have higher productivity because we are so amazing." And there was this fabulous answer. The title of the article says it all "I feel poor".  Wait. You "feel" poor? I'm sorry! That must suck. You know who else feels poor? POOR PEOPLE.  You know people who have actually experienced poverty.

That made me think of this blog post. Which accurately and gut-wrenchingly explains what it feels like to actually be poor. And guess what? It isn't struggling as an aspiring writer. I grew up poor and I know what poor means even though I have never actually known hunger. When I hear self-important young aspiring [fill in the blank] that believe all their own hype tell me that it’s hard to be an adult and hard to work for not enough money and hard to pay off student loans. I want to scream. Yes, it turns out it IS hard to be a grown up. I’m sorry no one prepared you for that reality.

Signs you might not *actually* be poor:

- you have a computer
- you went to (and graduated) college
- you went to GRAD SCHOOL
- you write a blog
- you have been on a vacation in the last year
- you have housing (never mind if it is overpriced, underwater, a bad deal, a good deal, a creepy landlord)
- you have clothing
- you have food
- you have the last three and you work only one job
- you have food, clothing and shelter and you worked less than 80 hours last week

Realizations/signs that you might not *actually* be poor but just experiencing real world grown up problems:

- you cannot believe what housing costs
- you cannot believe what electricity costs
- you cannot believe what groceries costs
- you cannot believe what it costs to keep your car in good repair and running
- you cannot believe it is legal for credit card companies to charge the interest rates they charge
- paying taxes suck
- paying for health care sucks
- being on a budget is SO NOT FUN
- you regret going to college and taking out all that student loan debt
- you regret majoring in something that made you happy but gave you zero job prospects
- limited vacation hours make planning life events stressful
- vacations are expensive
- holidays are stressful
- marriage is hard
- parenting is hard
- being a working parent is crazy ridiculously hard
- having very limited time to do the things you love to do can make you very sad (hobbies, reading, staying informed, volunteering, visiting family and friends)
- you have reliable day care and you honestly cannot believe what it costs for that
- you have a spouse/ partner that does not work outside the home
- you make hard choices, every. single. day.

None of us young professionals of my generation are actually poor. Young professionals I know are simply adjusting to the shocking reality of...being a grown up.

My friends and I joke about being unicorns. My friends and I are mostly positive people. I think it is important to my mental health to be positive and surround myself with positivity. That said, I think it's fair to say none of my friends are perfect or have perfect lives. Individually and collectively, we share the difficulties of life. Relationships, marriages, divorces, blended families, kids (OMG-kids), babies, jobs, finances, running on hamster wheels and going nowhere. We keep it real. And yes sometimes we look at each other, in safe ways and in safe places and we say "why is it so hard? Why didn't anyone tell me how tough it was to be a grown up/ a professional/ a parent?" And then we complete our pity party. Typically for my friends and I that means that we wrap up a run or a coffee date or a glass of wine and we get back to it. We go to work the next day. We pay our bills.  We give the kids their baths and we carry on.

We all need a safe place to talk about how hard life is and how hard it can be. I get that and I do not for one second dispute the need for that.

That said, I have collectively HAD IT with people who tell me in non-personal, non-friendship-I-need-a-safe-place-to-vent how hard their life is as they blog from their iPhone 5. Or who tell me I just "don't get it" because the job market was better when I graduated law school. Or who tell me that they are super productive and "work so hard" when I see them updating their facebook status in the middle of a work day. Stop, please just stop, with the insufferable righteousness. You're starting to sound like televangelists. Except you aren't pushing Jesus. You're just pushing you. And turns out, is a pretty cheap commodity. There's a whole generation of you. And a whole lot of them are not whiners.