I am the same age now that my mother was when she had me. Conversely, I think a cactus is too much responsibility. She keeps rounding my age up to 30. My throat tightens when people ask me “So what’s your plan, Roze!?” I shudder to think that one day a person could come out of my vajayjay, and drink juice from my boobies. Gag!
If you Google (yes, it is a verb) the phrases “twenty-something” or “millennials” you’ll find an endless cache of books, think-pieces, click-bait, and BuzzFeed-esque articles.
Everyone born after 1980, and subsequently everyone who birthed or came before us, is trying madly to explain what we are. How we came to be, and what ails us.
The Internets are frantically trying to WebMD our symptoms and rationalize the largest and most unprecedented generation the world has ever seen.
We were born of web, and wiki, and wire. Our encrypted spirits travel weightlessly through code across the stars. We are the unsullied.
But some us have moved back home. We have insurmountable debt. We marry later. We are the smartest and ironically most inexperienced. We ruined everything.
Or so they might have us believe.
Robin Marantz Henig, and her millennial daughter Samantha, co-authored “Twenty Something: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck!” as a means to flesh out the tens of theories about the romantic, academic, career-related, and socio-economic phenomena surrounding young adults.
*Disclaimer: Not sure if taking pictures of book pages is illegal. Please VHS bootleg 🚔👮🏾♀️👮🏾 police, don’t take me to copyright infringement jail!
The book opens with an excerpt from “The Bell Jar”, by Sylvia Plath. The colorful depiction of a young woman caught in indecision. The breadth and width of the tree and its many fruit surpassing the undetermined length of her conflicted life. Pursue her passions at the cost of a more comfortable or socially acceptable life? Or travel and eat of the world as the possibilities of marital bliss and motherhood slip away?
All the feels. Pick the wrong path, and all the others are impossible to harvest. Deliberate too long, and none are possible. Now more than ever, I’m pressingly aware of the passage of time. The length of time between posts, between graduation 👩🏾🎓 and the present day, between when I thought I knew what 27 would look like, and now…
The book is split up into nine chapters that cover a series of equally complicated young adult benchmarks. Robin and Samantha tag team each chapter with their perspectives from different generations and experiences.
Demographic studies, marriage/birth rates, and economic trends are all featured as the Henig duo dissect each societal stage and step and compare stats between baby boomers (Robin) and young adults (Samantha). Each chapter ends in a sort of scoreboard that determines which generations notions are more relevant or withstanding, dependent on the topic: “Now is New” and “Same as it Ever Was.”
The Henigs concluded that although millennials have a more publicized young adulthood that previous generations, and face an admittedly more uphill battle than their parents, but our concerns are and were very much the same. We are pressured by similar yet shifting benchmarks like marriage and home-ownership. As the great life-liver Maya Angelou said, “… we are more alike my friends, than we are unalike!” “Same as it Ever Was” takes the W by their tally, and the old people win again. Typical.
The whole thing reads like…
I’m sssoooo 🙄 pleased to feel like my anxiety is such a common experience. I’m not weird or self-indulgent for looking into this; seeking answers. Feeling so stymied by inhibition and decision-making fatigue. What I’m experiencing is uniform the world over. I’m not in a funk, and you’re not either! We’re just 27, and there is no cure but to celebrate another birthday. Get one day closer, better, wiser. Save more, learn more, and not give up.
What I feel the book fails to do, is to address the development of young adults from different educational, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. The eldest Henig highlights this briefly, but the disclaimer is nonetheless unsatisfying. What are the gripes of millennials in Mumbai vs. Miami?
Choice is a luxury that so many of us cannot afford. Even those of us fraught with indecision get to be caught between a diamond-encrusted rock a haute couture hard place (shout out to Guapdad 4000!).
We dream of lives with fewer decisions to make; to live simply while both here and abroad choices aren’t so numerous, and are often at higher stakes. #firstworldproblems I’ll find a career, I’ll go back to school, I’ll eventually marry. I don’t have to choose a bath over food. I don’t have to decide between my life or my child’s. I pick movies on Netflix.
In reading this I also acknowledge my privilege. I was brought up with certain expectations, and for the most part was given the support necessary to fulfill them. I was able to obtain a degree, I’ve been advancing in careers ever since graduation. I live in the United States (whatever that means now anyway), I speak English, and I’m a citizen. This book reminds me. It;s a good reminder, and a reality check! It wasn’t on Oprah’s 16 Must-Read Books for November 2012 for nothing!
Read Time Rate (1 night = 30 mins): 16 nights
Why should you read it? I’ve never read a book so “OMG same!” in my entire life. It sparked a great conversation between my mother and I. I appreciate her so much more with my deepened understanding. We are, and were, twenty-something, and fifty-something just doing our best; figuring it out, stumbling along, and trying like hell not to HECK up too bad. You are too. There’s nothing wrong with you. You have some time.
What’s your most recent adulting triumph? Figuring out how credit works, saving for retirement, or perhaps you’ve had enough to help your parents? Maybe you’ve finally figured out what you wanna be when you grow up. Tell me in the comments below!
You’re right, it’s not comparing, it’s market research. Just don’t overindulge. I love you.