gen x

Young and Isolated

A great recent piece in the New York Times, Young and Isolated, by Jennifer M. Silva spoke to me. I'm not the young and isolated, per se, but I can definitely see myself in their group.

"These are people bouncing from one temporary job to the next; dropping out of college because they can’t figure out financial aid forms or fulfill their major requirements; relying on credit cards for medical emergencies; and avoiding romantic commitments because they can take care of only themselves. Increasingly disconnected from institutions of work, family and community, they grow up by learning that counting on others will only hurt them in the end. Adulthood is not simply being delayed but dramatically reimagined along lines of trust, dignity and connection and obligation to others."

I was once a confused, isolated, debt-saddled 20 year-old from working class roots.  I bought into the idea then that there was a formula for success: go to a good college and get a good job.  Turns out that formula worked for only so long.  Times have changed. There is no formula.

As a member of Gen X, I'm starting to see my group hit their 40s and come away feeling just as duped and uncertain as the younger people quoted in the article.  Even with experience and college degrees there are no guarantees.

What's different about now and then for me is I'm learning not to numb out and turn inward, but to feel and connect.  Self-reliance is a good starting point, but it turns out that your community matters more than ever.  When things get tough, people, I've found, turn tribal.  Who's in your tribe?