“Hope inspires the good to reveal itself.”
I sat down to write this morning, and almost immediately, my friend texted me to say she was worried she was having preterm labour. She wasn't, as it turns out, but it definitely threw off my creative groove. It's so hard to do the work when you're afraid.
I say that as a person who's afraid a lot. I'm afraid of big, mostly-irrational things, like planes crashing into me--not just crashing in general, but specifically crashing into me--and of being involved in a mass shooting (again, or more closely). I'm also afraid of little, much more reasonable things, like people thinking my hair is stupid or my clothes are frumpy and not being taken seriously, of being too tired to do everything I need to do, of my family falling apart in one way or another, of having panic attacks on the train.
I'm afraid mostly because I have a glitchy brain, but also partly because the world is kind of scary. Them problem is that when I'm afraid, I'm detached. I fulfill my obligations, but stretch goals and new developments and connections are impossible. Being kind and open to the world is unrealistic. Finding my centre and holding it steady is completely outside the scope of possibility. I can usually function afraid, but I can't be the person I want to be.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a segment on the local morning radio show about how to attract Millennials to and get them to engage with the city. It was 6:15am and I was barely awake, but I mumbled, "homes and stable jobs would be a start," before I rolled over and went back to sleep.
I think part of the reason I'm so bored of why-are-Millennials-such-failures think pieces is because the Gen-X and Boomer writers (and the high-privilege Millennials, too) constantly neglect the sense of hopelessness I see among my peers. Not despair, necessarily, but a resignation to the idea that we probably won't get secure, stable, appropriately-compensated jobs, no matter how many training-level, entry-level, starter-level jobs we work beforehand. Those jobs aren't there for us, and probably won't ever be, not the way the last couple of generations tended to expect. The idea that we'll never own homes, that marriage is likely to double our household student debt load, which we are also resigned to being buried under for the rest of our lives, because we can't get stable, appropriately-compensated jobs, and that having children or the number of children we'd prefer to have just isn't in the cards.
It's hard to do the work when you have no hope that the work will get you anywhere. Harder still to do big, inspired, hopeful work.
You have to wonder what's being lost because we don't have a whole lot of hope. We're mostly functioning and cobbling things together, but we're not the people we wish we could be. We might never be. All it would take, honestly, is a cultural decision that things like stable, appropriately compensated jobs and affordable housing are fundamental needs for growth, and some of the burden might lift, but right now, we live in a bootstraps world that neglects to notice that most of us can't find any boots.
A newsletter on life, current events, media & culture, and living in wonder amidst it all.