As this Sunday draws to a close, I’m bracing myself for the inevitable chorus of “So… what did you do over the weekend?” I’ll be encountering at work. I’ll be giving the same answer I always give:
Well, that’s not entirely true. I slept in, did a little reading, cleaned up my house, shopped for groceries, and surfed the web a bit. Barring the occasional oil change on my car, that’s pretty much all I do.
And for some reason, people take issue with that. I really and truly can’t count the number of times I’ve been called “old.” “You’re the oldest 22 year old I know.” “Your idea of fun… it’s like a 50 year old’s.” “You’re like an old man.”
Now anyone who knows me can probably tell you that’s not entirely without cause. I’m bitter and grouchy cynic with an antisocial streak the size of Montana. Back when I was a child, these traits got me called “mature”- I’m not exactly sure when the switchover took place. But that’s a rant for another time.
Even with my personality as a factor, I feel pretty confident in saying that my weekend is more or less the same for all of my friends. Heck, I think my situation is pretty analogous to anyone of my generation.
Ok, a clarification: Any westerner of my generation. Obviously I can’t make sweeping generalizations about other cultures.
Now I’m guessing that I’m not alone in having received a “when I was your age” speech. I’m bombarded with people telling me of the crazy, stupid stuff (their words) they did when they were in their twenties. “I was in the club all the time!” “I was out partying on the weekends!” “I did a lot of drinking!”
Ok, I actually do that- but what they mean is “drinking in bars.” Apparently you’re supposed to pay 7 bucks for a half-decent beer instead of doing the smart thing and buying a whole bottle of vodka from a discount liquor store.
Now I wouldn’t say that I am (or we are, since I’m assuming the role of my generation’s spokesperson) getting real flak for my/our more quiet lifestyle- the sentiment I’ve come up against feels a lot more like a mixture of surprise, puzzlement, and pity for not being as wild as they (allegedly) were.
Now this in and of itself doesn’t frustrate me. We can debate whether or not it’s smart/good to be wild, but I can respect you having a different position than my own. No, what drives me nuts is that I’m being told this by the same generation who are railing on my generation for being lazy, entitled, and shallow.
Seeing as how my generation is fighting two wars we didn’t start and paying for a financial meltdown we also didn’t start (those of us who managed to even get jobs, that is), I would take issue with the idea that we’re all a bunch of privileged kids with no sense of reality, but it can’t be denied there are some of us out there who do fit that description.
So are we supposed to be stomping the whole yolo-swag-crap or rallying around it? On one hand we’re getting told to loosen up and enjoy our youth while we have it, on the other, we’re being told that this exact thing is downright juvenile. But it’s not just our free time where my generation is getting hit with this double message- I have the same complaint with protest.
Back during the occupy protests, I repeatedly heard that “These are a bunch of social deviants and kooks” when people dressed like Mr. Monopoly. Alternatively, we got “These are a bunch of spoiled, middle-class brats” when the protesters dressed in oxfords and ties. Again, are we supposed to be clean-cut or are we supposed to be hippies?
Look, I’m not trying to be hostile here- I’m really not. I’m just trying to figure out what on earth are the expectations placed upon us. And no, I don’t think you can spew out some thought-cancelling faux-folksy truism like “Well, this happens with every generation. You just gotta be you!”
There are clear expectations placed on people. Kids in the 30s were expected to be industrious. You work, eat, sleep, and die quietly.
After times of war, you get generations who are expected to live life to the fullest. Experiment-question-explore-adventure-“discover yourself”-baby-boomers. Or how about the stereotypical 1950s impossibly wholesome youngsters, who always did their civic duty, turned in gays and Commies, and always stayed away from weed and black people?
But the point remains.
I’m just trying figure out what on earth is expected from us. Are we supposed to be gritting our teeth and fighting through these (undeniably) rough times, or are we supposed to live like there’s no tomorrow?
Are we supposed to be saving money, or should we be spending? Are we supposed to get into trouble, or do we need to “grow up”?
You gotta get your message straight, people.