Monday, December 29, 2008

Growing, Growing...Not


If it's the last Monday of 2008 and your employer is squeezing the last bit of productivity from you in the middle of the holidays, consider yourself lucky. We all know what the alternatives are and they ain't pretty.

The effects of our crumbling economy will yield long lasting effects, one of which, I think, is a generation of backward-looking adults who will have one foot sorta planted in the future and the other rooted in childhood just for safety's sake.

For those of us in our late twenties, the recent global financial crisis is reminiscent of those post-9-11 days when jobs were hard to find and the ubris of graduating from college was blunted by the realization that it was back to mom and dad's house after four years of dorm life. At age 22, 23 or 24, however, one could afford optimism, roll over on the couch or in your childhood bed, and say "a job will happen."

But what happens at 27, 28 or 29, when you're a few years into your career, esconsed in a nicer apartment and a lifestyle that consists of wine tastings and fondue nights instead of boozey sloshes through the East Village and your job is suddenly, as the British say, "deemed redundant?" And now you have a pink slip to go with your Barney's sale items? And you just had dinner at your parents' house and prayed all the way home "please, God, don't send me back there."

What happens when, in the middle of having grown up, you're forced to swallow your pride and phone home...because you're about to lose it all?

The phenomenon of delayed adulthood, where responsibility is clicked off in favor of mom's cooking and a Wii, has been studied to death and culled down to a formula that I think goes something like this:

Lazy kids + overbearing parents + wobbly economy = "twixters" (defined by Time magazine in 2005 as "full-grown men and women who still live with their parents, who dress and talk and party as they did in their teens, hopping from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere.")

Today, the "wobbly economy" component of that equation can't be emphasized enough.
For those of us who have tasted that bit of financial and domestic freedom - even while paying off school loans - a return home, or even the slightest downgrade in expectations (e.g. well, I guess I won't be a TV star but at least I have dental insurance), is especially painful because it seems like only yesterday that you were slamming your locker door, mumbling "I'll show them."

Show them (your parents?) what, exactly? How to turn your old room into a home office?

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