Generation whine

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Many people in my mother's generation like to point out how today's 20-somethings feel entitled for no reason. As a 20-something, I agree that my peers have an unreal sense of entitlement. I've seen it firsthand.

My ex-boyfriend racked up $60,000 in student loans and constantly complained about how "the system" had lied to him. Several of my college acquaintances asserted that same idea, insisting they should be handed a job upon graduation because they completed a certain amount of required credits.

"I don't understand why the system is set up against us," one of these acquaintances bemoaned at a party during my senior year.

I had just enough wine to wonder exactly what the system was but not nearly enough to say that aloud. At that point, I'd heard it a million times. Because of the U.S. government, the acquaintance continued, our generation was becoming the most oppressed of them all.

One of my female friends chimed in that student loans aren't fair because they profit from the nation's youth and create tangible uncertainty in the lives of young people who are just starting out in this world. How is it fair, she asked, that we hit a roadblock before leaving the driveway?

"It isn't fair!" I wanted to say. "Can you think of anything in life that is?"

I know I come across a bit harsh, but I have no sympathy for people who blame the world for their problems. I especially lack sympathy for educated, privileged people who blame the world for their problems. These people fell into the latter camp; while complaining about how they had no control over their finances, they didn't do anything to take control.

I maintained at least two jobs during college while most of my friends went to class, napped and partied on the weekend. They did study, but no amount of studying can replace on-the-job experience or the value of networking. For me, having one of those jobs changed everything. I worked at my school's public relations office, where I impressed my boss enough to be recommended for the job I have now.

I don't know what I'd be doing if i didn't have this job, but I think I'd be a lot less happy. Like many in my generation, I owe quite a bit in student loans. I consider myself pretty lucky to be able to say that. Yes, I am in debt because my education cost more than it should have.

While that can be frustrating, I know that debt exists because I got a quality education. My choices during college led me where I am today, so I'm fine with paying a lot of money over the next five years or so. Unfortunately, many others in my generation don't work through college or try to figure out how their studies will affect post-grad life.

"They told us to get a degree and then we'd get a job," my ex-boyfriend once told me. "That's not how it worked out."

Of course that isn't how it worked out. That's not how life works; you can't aimlessly wander and then wonder how you got lost.

You have to step up, make a decision and see it out. If that doesn't work out, you need to re-assess the situation to determine how to fix it. I don't think I'm perfect; I've made many mistakes that haunt me. I spent too much money in college and dated a guy who wrecked my self-esteem so much I earned significantly lower grades than expected. There are many things I'd probably do differently if I could.

Still, I keep going. I don't blame others for my decisions. I decided to date that terrible guy. I decided to borrow student loans.

I did these things, and I will live with the consequences. If more people in my generation had that attitude, I think we'd have a lot less complaining and a lot more doing.

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Samantha Jones is a reporter for the Carroll County News. Her email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com.