Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Grown Up and Dependent on Parents



Why Are So Many Adults Moving Back in With Their Parents?
When I was 21, I had to move back home for a year, unable to make ends meet, doing student teaching which took up seven to eight hours of my day and didn't pay a dime...plus my side job, which actually gave me a day that went from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. [an insane schedule, by any standard] just didn't pay enough. I ended up moving home, I had to have some spending money, so the insane schedule had no letup, but I got to eat and had a room to sleep in. I think about young people today, and wonder, "How on earth are they going to make it? "

My health was not helped via lack of medical insurance -- not to mention hours and hours of part-time, pieced-together jobs -- but I managed (even with my college degree) to pick up a few jobs that paid in the $10-14 dollar per hour range...keep in mind, this was the early 90s...and at least I wasn't just stuck with minimum wage. I could get the rented room, plus stacks of milk crates and keep an old car going most of the time. What are today's young people to do now, when prices are higher, and wages really have not gone up much?

I have relatives in their mid-20s who still live at home and stuck with a life that hasn't really begun, due to lack of meaningful employment.  In their case this situation has meant no dating, few hobbies and being stuck in a small room with other unemployed twentysomething siblings.  One has a college degree but has not found a job to go with it. The article is right, in that the education system does not prepare them for the real world. I wasn't told how hard it was to make a living and majored in education -- right before a wave of layoffs that began happening, just as I came out of college in the 1990s.  As they say..."Timing is everything." --The Squawker




Peanut butter, anyone? Surely that graphic makes you hungry.
Never could stand the stuff, myself, because it seemed like such a College Student Cliche 101-type of thing...but I digress.

Reading the Squawker's entry on this subject reminds me of a saying that my father often brought up whenever anything college-related crossed the TV screen: "The trouble with this place here is that everybody graduates." 

I'd crack up, because a) it meant that I wouldn't be on the receiving end of dear old Dad's trademark sarcasm, and b) it wasn't hard to see the truth of that expression, even during the '90s, when all those nasty old bubble markets seemed eons way.

Ironically, my problem differed from most of my peers -- I found a job in my degreed field (journalism) without a lot of difficulty, but it didn't pay enough to support my own place, let alone all the other expenses that I was carrying at the time (car payment, college loans, credit cards).

Even then, however, it wasn't hard to see the storm clouds gathering.  Eventually, I quit my newspaper job and moved to Chicago, where I wasn't able to find any journalism-related day gigs...so I worked in an office, and wrote at night. 

However, I was too poor to afford a computer -- that wouldn't become a given until the late '90s, when I made it back to Michigan -- so I'd have to trek over from Rogers Park to a friend's house in the middle of the city.  We'd graduated from the same college, so it was OK to use his computer, as long as I wrapped up by 10 or 11 p.m.

My friend lived with four or five other people, who were all either recent graduates or future graduate school customers. None of them owned a car, nor other presumed symbols of the hipster good life that were already being touted on such megahit sitcoms as "Friends."

Sure, my friend and his pals were skinny, white and wisecracking, but that's as far as the similarities to the world of "Friends" went. I don't remember any designer hairdos or clothes among this crowd.  As far as I could tell, nobody ate out, and 90 percent of the meals were vegetarian...as much out of budget, I suspect, as conviction.

Sometimes, you only need to look around, and your eyes will latch onto a symbol that confirms your true status in a flash.  At my first paper, I only had to glance across the parking lot, where the general manager -- who often lectured the rest of us lot on the gospel of businesses operating "lean and mean" -- drove an enormous, battleship-sized SUV that dwarfed just about everybody else's ride.

For my friend and his housemates, you could sum up their status through the stacks and stacks of used books and CDs they'd acquired during their travels -- the symbols of a media consumer's life that became positively quaint once the Internet era took hold for good.

I'm still in touch with my friend, but have no idea what happened to anybody else in that house, or if they found anything resembling their chosen career specialty. But nobody was paying much attention, anyhow.  And if you doubted what your gut told you, well, there was always the big screen for some temporary relief, sending up the twentysomething "slacker" stereotype in movies like Reality Bites...

...so nobody felt particularly compelled to pay any attention.  These days, however, the joke doesn't seem so funny anywhere, when an estimated one in three jobs doesn't need a college degree (see the link below)...only nobody's making a movie about that deal. --The ReckonerThe Wall Street Journal: Do Too Many Young People Go To College?

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