“I think careers are a 20th century invention and I don’t want one,” –Alexander Supertramp
Out of my six best mates all born and raised as red blooded american brood, three of them, including myself, live at home with their parents. Of the three that have permanently flown the coop, two work at coffee shops on the west coast to pay the bills, using their time off to develop their respective art. The other has a “real job,” for a hip wine company in Manhattan, where drinking is encouraged. Still, it’s a corporation, and while initially I wondered if my free spirited, creative friend was selling his soul I realized that if you can take your passion, or one of them, and turn it into a way to make money then you’ve really cracked it, right?
Of all of us still living at home between the ages of 26-29, we all left at some point, mostly for a long while, and came back for one reason or another. Some of us using the time as a stepping stone to the next chapter we’d already planned to write, others using it as a time to figure out how the next chapter will read.
Many critics claim my generation useless. That we have a general malaise and lack of ambition. We’re entitled, and expect everything to be handed to us. I find, at least in my small circle, this is entirely untrue. The problem isn’t that we’re lazy, don’t want to work, or settle down, no–we all work. Most of us several jobs. It’s just that so many of us chose to make money to fuel a venture, rather than the venture being the actual act of making money. Rather than living to work, we simply work to live.
I’m lucky. Other than perhaps if I were born a man, I’ve pretty much hit the lottery as I live a very privileged life as a white, American woman from a middle class family. I’ve never gone hungry or spent a night on the streets, because I’ve always been armed with the knowledge and confidence that there’s a way to make enough money to take care of myself. While I may have spent the last few years making so little money I’d technically be called “impoverished” by the government, I am in no way poor. I just choose to live simply which doesn’t require a lot of money.
It’s starting to happen though, people around me are changing. Pretty soon they might even start to get married, have kids. Another friend in my small circle just got a “real job.” I’m insanely proud of her and have always been quick to spout her academic successes to anyone who will listen. But despite my swelling pride, I can’t help but feel like my friend group is getting gentrified. Like I’ll be the last one standing—holding onto a toilet bowl scrub brush and my dreams of doing something outside of a career.
I’m rounding the corner to 27 years old. I don’t know if it’s me or the pressures from societal norms, yet I can’t help but wonder if I should put more stock in finding a sustainable, long term way to keep money coming in. I don’t want to be 60 and still cleaning toilets or waiting tables. Although for now, if doing that gets me to the next port of call, well, I’m fine with that. At least until I’m 30.