I’m not saying that my generation isn’t responsible for our debts, I’m saying that my generation was sold a pretty story about how our lives were going to be, and it didn’t turn out that way for most of us.
Agewise, I’m right in the middle of generation X. We (and by we I mean myself, my siblings and all the people my age that I knew) were told the entire time we were growing up that advanced education was how we were going to get secure jobs and have better lives than our parents. My father was a blue-collar worker, and he was tossed and turned financially with the turns of the economy his whole working life. He wanted better for his children.
But when I and my agemates graduated high school, there were no jobs. The only way to enter the workforce was to take minimum wage, dead end jobs. Our other option was to go to post secondary — and that’s the way to get something better than a minimum wage, dead end job, right?
But when we graduated from university, there still wasn’t any jobs; the baby boomers had them all tied up, the economy was tight so no one was hiring, and the majority of the work force was still a good twenty years from retirement.
So I and most of the people my age that I know ended up in holding patterns. We took shit jobs, we took jobs that didn’t advance our careers, we took temporary jobs, and ones with no prospects of advancements. Because those were our only options. Some of us even did graduate degrees, and those didn’t help us get hired, either.
Then, just as the baby boomers started nearing retirement age, they started complaining loudly that there were no good, qualified people around who could take over for the people retiring. That was because all us gen Xers never got a chance to work, and learn and advance in our careers to be in a position to take over, but obviously that was our fault, not the boomers who didn’t want to spend the time or money to give us training opportunities.
And then the financial crisis of 2008 hit. The boomers who were going to retire could no longer afford to, so they stayed on their jobs. Or if they did retire, the companies didn’t hire replacements, and just combined that position’s tasks with a position that already had someone.
And now there’s a whole lot of Gen Xers in our forties, with no careers to speak of, loads of debt that we can’t repay, looking at lists of job postings that are obviously geared towards hiring a millennial.
That came out a little more rant-y than I expected, but this is what I’ve been living with for decades. It spills out sometimes.