Far too often our generation is expected to grow up too quickly, find that perfect job too soon, and settle down and find that white picket fence before we are truly ready.
Today's column will not attempt to justify those too lazy to set off on their own, nor is it a singular declaration supporting any one decision on how to live one's life. Rather, I hope it to be an encouragement to profit from our fleeting youth and the unique opportunities waiting for us during this uniquely transformative period in our life.
Today, vast arrays of societal changes have rendered many traditional paths for young adults outdated, and indeed the current global environment demands a variety of different approaches. Perhaps most indicative of the current environment is that there simply are not as many jobs available for recent grads, and it seems that even the available ones require more than just a bachelor's degree. As more and more students enroll in universities, graduate school has become the new dividing mark between the highly prepared and the adequately prepared. Many students however, myself included, are not exactly eager to commit to two more years of intensive schooling after 17 or 18 consecutive years in the classroom.
So, with few job opportunities available, and a desire to avoid burning oneself out prematurely in grad school, what are we to do? Some would like to pass us off as lazy, entitled, or a generation unwilling to work hard to succeed. These accusations, however, could not be farther from the truth — we have merely been shaped by the environment we grew up in. While it is true that many recent college grads have moved back in with their parents, or are unable to find jobs, it has nothing to with a lack of desire.
Perhaps it is a widespread realization that the structure of our current social system is no longer capable of supporting our ambitions and goals. Perhaps more members of that all-important 18-34 year old demographic are choosing to live lives unencumbered by obligations and responsibilities that can just as easily be adopted later in life. Or finally, perhaps, our generation is merely experiencing the same societal change that every generation must process and experience for themselves.
I certainly cannot speak for everyone, and maybe you are reading this column thinking I am either insane or criminally irresponsible, but our youth is a beautiful gift, and we should not squander it by fulfilling the expectations of others, nor in assuming responsibilities that can certainly be delayed. Call me indulgent or immature, but I see nothing wrong with waiting for graduate school, marriage or children, until I have satisfied my youthful restlessness.
Our world, while becoming smaller due to advances in transportation and communications, is full of stunning landscapes, fascinating cultures, and supremely entertaining people just waiting to be encountered. Unfortunately, our lifetimes are too short to experience everything our world has to offer, but it seems a tragedy to waste our lives encumbered by responsibilities that, while certainly reasonable or even expected in the past, have been rendered optional. We all have that one dream we deem impossible for whatever reason, and sadly, sometimes life gets in the way of living. However, we should all at least entertain an attempt to fulfill our wildest dreams, particularly in our youth; we may never again have the chance, and no one desires a life full of regrets, missed opportunities or unrealized passions.
— Ron Walters is a senior in English literature, French and global studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.