|Does this look like your Mom or Dad?|
Maybe I shouldn't feel too bad after all! While I was logging into my email, I came across this article about how members of the "millenial generation" (those born in the 1980's and 1990's) are unable to cope with life. They find themselves unable to cope with things like college assignments and doing their own laundry, without their parents' supervision and input. The article puts a lot of the blame on helicopter parenting. Many kids in my generation and younger grew up with parents who, quite literally, wanted the best for them. So they chaperoned playdates and orchestrated study schedules and organized tutoring and piano lessons and karate lessons and stayed in constant touch with teachers, some continuing this careful 24/7 parenting even after kids started college. And so, according to the article, the kids became adults who expected perfection from themselves, and felt like they couldn't operate as adults if they weren't achieving up to their parents' standards. They can't make their own decisions because they were always given explicit instructions on what to do.
In fact, the article says that some young adults actually bring their parents to job interviews, have their parents sit in with them, and want job offers presented to their parents as well as themselves, so that their parents can review them and decide whether the job is right for their child. Some employers actually cater to this by offering to send positive performance reports home to their employees' parents!
So... yeah... maybe I am not so bad after all. I think my mom sort of tried to helicopter parent me, or at least create the appearance of doing so... but unlike many in my generation, I didn't ever experience having to expect perfection from myself. Getting poor grades in school, being bullied, and getting in trouble left and right, taught me instead to be happy with survival. And I did learn how to survive.
I am lucky that my parents allowed me and my Small Dog to move in with them again after the last living situation I had went horribly awry. I am lucky that they allowed me to camp out in my brother's old room, even after my graduation from college did not yield the teaching job and subsequent income and independence I promised them it would. (Sorry Mom and Dad, but although I graduated college, I'm still only worthy of an $11/hour job!) But if they kicked me out right now, I would survive. I definitely couldn't afford a place to live on $11/hour, and maybe I'd be homeless, but that in itself wouldn't drive me to the depression and anxiety that the people in the article deal with.
There have been times in my life where I was sleeping in my car, waking up and going to work two hours early, using the washroom at work to get as clean as I could, going into the classroom and getting extra stuff done for an hour before even the teacher showed up, and then staying as late as I could and getting even more work done. My co-workers thought I was a super dedicated employee. In reality, I just had no where to go! There's photos of me at that job where I was skinny as a bone because I would go days without eating much more than crackers and mayonnaise, yet I still had the energy to deal with the tantrums of a 6-year-old with autism all day long. I survived. The depression I deal with now and for most of my life is more of a brain chemical issue, not something that would go away if only i had a better job.
Another thing is, the people in the article are always hoping for more. They want to be top level executives, because they were raised to think of themselves as top level people. Not me! My wishes are simple. I want a place to live. A little cottage or cabin would be perfect. I'd like to be able to buy my own dishes... I want the different colored ones I see in Dollar Tree sometimes, or maybe a hodgepodge of random thrift shop and garage sale dishes. I want to be near my family and loved ones as much as possible. And I want to make a difference in the world. I want to become a teacher... but I am not looking to advance to principal, and then district superintendent, and then secretary of the department of education, and then so on and so on.
When I get really down on myself, it is because I am comparing myself to my brother and my cousins. Several of my cousins (not including the ones who are under the age of eleven) have masters degrees, and all of them live on their own. My brother already has a house and a family. I am the only one stuck at home with shoes made out of rubber cement. But according to the article I read, 30 is actually the new 18. And so... apparently, I am actually ahead of the game! There, that is something to smile about, isn't it!?!!?!