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We Are The Bratty Swine of America

August 22, 2011

There is no model for success for the path I am on. There is no economic ideal. There is only supreme success or struggle. Even supreme success is a struggle. So why?

When one is young, dreams  of being “famous” cloud every child’s fantasies (right?), but by the time these children graduate from college, most have given up these fantastical ideals of being rich and famous and traded them in for stable careers with job security and 401ks and retirement plans.

With this country in such a state of economic turmoil these things seem further away from everyone now. I am not trying to downplay the crises facing so many Americans, but I want to talk about the “model” that we’ve set up for our lives as Americans.

It used to be that if you went to college, you would get a job that would ensure that you could have a family, a home, and a comfortable life. However, that ideal has fallen so quickly that now, as Americans, we have flooded the system with so many people seeking success in the American Business Model that it is impossible to give all of the college-educated humans jobs and houses and happiness. Not only that, but growing up in the land of plenty has spoiled all of us rotten. (Obviously I am not speaking of the myriad of underprivileged in this country, but only of the bratty swine like myself who grew up wanting for little or nothing). We grew up in big houses, with cars and savings accounts and listened to “I Am A Rock” when our parents wouldn’t let us stay out past curfew. SO misunderstood. Thus, we have no idea what we want. We sort of want to hate the idea of living in a small town outside of a big city and having a house and a car and a stocked fridge of groceries, but we are growing increasingly tired of our small apartment, credit card minimum payments, greasy Thai delivery and no closet space. We’re plagued by decisions, inundated, really, and we are ill-equipped to make any of them. So we pay therapists to decide for us and then we go out and become therapists so that we can afford a car wash and organic produce delivery because we want to be socially conscious even though we don’t know what that really means, because we don’t have time to read about it, because the world is falling apart around us.

And what if we don’t have a model to follow? (Which, I think, was my original point.) When you go to law school you come out with the expectation that you will be able to find a job as a lawyer, and you will make money and pay off your debts to the evil education monster of necessity and then you will help people settle their disagreements in a civil manner using your schooling. The same goes for Doctors. You will save lives and cure sickness and sew bodies back together because we have a need for that. You will get married and live life and have babies and die and probably buy a new couch or switch dog food and you might get cancer even though you order organic produce, because we just don’t know how to save ourselves anymore. But we won’t stop trying.

But what if your choices don’t have a resolution. What if you live day to day wondering if today will be the day that you get at a phone call that will give you an opportunity. And then maybe you’ll be lucky enough for that opportunity to be granted, and then you will get a paycheck the size of a teacher’s yearly salary, and you will play a drug addicted roommate in a bad movie starring someone more famous than you. And then maybe that more famous person will fall in love with you and you won’t know what to do because you already love someone, but they resent your choices and luck that got you to this point because they are six steps behind you, so you fall back. And then you are on the cover of a terrible magazine and it doesn’t feel good at all, not like you thought it would when you were six and wearing a tutu in your backyard because your parents bought it for you and let you go to ballet classes, and paid for them. And then success is achieved because your phone keeps ringing and the people want you. They want you in better movies, or maybe a great tv show about hip young people who are dissatisfied with the mundane lives that their parents handed them because they cared. What happens when your greatest success is spending five years living someone else’s unhappy life. Is that what the anti-model for success generates? But maybe you spend day and week and month and year and on and on reaching, reaching for the story that will help all of us cope with the absolute dissatisfaction we’ve created for ourselves and you will never get it, someone else will, and then what?

What do you do when there is no model for success? How do you proceed without any certainty about the future whatsoever? What have we done?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Brianna permalink
    August 23, 2011 9:10 AM

    This does not apply to everyone. Give some of “us” more credit. The “we” and “us” in this isn’t fair- some of “us” are perfectly well equipped for decision making, and enjoy stocking our fridges and figuring out closet space. Some of “us” will have law degrees and medical degrees and will truly save people. Our generation does know how to save ourselves, I think most of us are doing pretty darn well.

    • anon permalink
      August 23, 2011 8:46 PM

      Obviously there are outliers in the world. Nazi Germany had respectable doctors. I don’t think the point was to single one or two people out but to speak to the whole. Compared to previous generations we are absolutely spoiled brats. The “We” she speaks of grew up during the greatest time of economic growth and technological advance in the modern age. “We” came to expect success to come easily and among those who’s parents were generous and provided well for us, we have become a generation of people expecting things to be handed to us. That isn’t to say that people like yourself don’t work very very hard, but I’m willing to bet that amongst the peers you have grown up with, you can probably think of a few examples of some pretty amazing wastes of potential. I know I can. Many of whom have intended to ride on the economic coattails of their parents. Unfortunately for many of these people, said fortunes might not exist as they did and said uneducated, unmotivated brats might well be screwed. It sounds like you are an exception and should be proud, but don’t take offense to a very broad statement. Education and work ethic, amongst the educated classes has fallen by the wayside and if we expect to remain a relevant part of the global economy, we must address this issue.

  2. August 23, 2011 9:24 AM

    Adria, I love reading your blog, but I don’t think it’s fair to shuffle our whole generation under “bratty swines”. I like having my fridge stocked and living in a small town. This made me feel like my life is wrong? Or that you think it’s wrong to be happy with the things I have? Maybe some clarifications are in order…. otherwise I feel like you think I’m a loser.

  3. August 23, 2011 10:08 AM

    Wow. I’m sorry! My own confusion and distrust in society has antagonized people.

    First of all, to make any point about any generation, generalizations and broad statements must be made. Not must, but unless one is writing a textbook or dissertation, than it is common. So I apologize for the inaccuracies of my generalization. Far be it for me to discredit those of “us” who are fighting against these difficult times with spears in hand and foraging the front lines of success.

    I enjoy stocking my fridge and reorganizing my closet. I have dreams of moving to a small town. What was lost here, I think, was the notion of being transitioning between childhood and adulthood and the difficulty of knowing what one wants. I know this is not a universal problem, and more power to you if you don’t suffer from these ailments! There is absolutely nothing wrong with small town living, or being a doctor or living in a city or being a lawyer or living in the suburbs, I was just wording my own inability (which I know is shared by many other people of our generation) to be comfortable in my place.

    I will point out again that I have chosen an “alternative” lifestyle–one that has very little routine or security–and that with this choice comes alternate viewpoints and windows through which I see the world and society evolving. I don’t mean to demean anyone else’s particular window to life, I’m simply pointing my own out. With this being said, I strongly believe this kind of discourse in varying opinions and world views is highly necessary for evolution and knowledge–two things that we should never stop cultivating.

    In expressing my negative viewpoint (I have many positive viewpoints and possibly should follow this up with ways in which I think “we” CAN and ARE changing the world) I have not been thorough and have unintentionally hurt the feelings of people whose opinions and viewpoints I value greatly, and for that I apologize.

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