I’m 29 and it’s not fair. Aging isn’t fair for those who don’t want children and/or still don’t know what they want to do with their lives. By the time my mother turned 29 she had her second child and seventh anniversary. Sure, the rate of family development has slowed down in general in recent generations (and I don’t want a marriage or children) but I feel like I don’t have anything to show for my age, and I wasn’t younger for long enough. Time is unfair.
I’m at the age, or approaching the age, when people start to question why I’m not in certain positions within the various spheres of existence. Why do I not own property? Because I blew lots of money on life-enriching experiences like travel, education, and unemployment. (Unemployment is only life-enriching in short doses and hindsight.) Why am I not in a long-term relationship? Because I have chosen to develop a solid sense of independence both emotionally and financially (and that is also related to why I don’t own property). Why do I not have a higher-paying job? Because I’ve worked at my current employer for under a year – and trust me, I am working hard with career advancement in mind. Why don’t I own a car? Because I can’t drive. Why can’t I drive? Because you’re either an insensitive prick or completely immersed in an inorganic culture that is driving society to shits.
These are the types of questions I’m preparing to be asked this summer as I attend a family wedding. The groom is a cousin the same age as me who has a PhD and moved to the other side of the world (almost literally, if the earth were not an oblong sort-of sphere). He has clearly “accomplished” “more” than me in traditional measurements of achievement, and in the five months of age difference it’s unlikely for me to “catch up”. And I’m sure, in spite of the letters he can put both before and after his name and the relationship status he can change on Facebook, he also feels wronged by being expected to behave as exclusively an adult. It’s a generational thing that older people won’t shut up about. People born in the 1980s don’t have a sense of maturity and responsibility. People born in the 1980s stubbornly refuse to adopt a work ethic.
The Baby Boomer generation has shifted into the when-I-was-your-age stage of curmudgeon complaints. Whether it’s reminiscing about their struggle to make ends meet and the hard work they put into providing for their children (and they make these complaints without seeing their responsibility for instilling an ethic of gratitude), or criticizing their children for not being at the level of achievement they had at the same age (and they make their complaints without seeing their responsibility for instilling an ethic of ambition), they are showing their age and making my generation feel like we’re not showing ours. But we are showing (most of us, at least) responsibility at a reasonable level. We’ve matured as required of us. It only feels unjust that we have to be adults because of the intergenerational treatment that guilts us into thinking we’re not there yet, no matter how much we have accomplished in our time so far.
So when I need to take care of things like an adult, I feel out of place. It’s not an injustice; it’s merely a disconnected, almost out-of-body set of tasks that doesn’t prove my maturity to myself, let alone the judgmental eyes of other people.