The more I talk to my 20-something friends, the more I hear the same sentiment. We’re supposed to be the generation of promise, but with our degrees and hard work being greeted by the worst economic crisis in decades, it’s sometimes hard to continue believing in that promise.
Now many wonder if Generation Y will respond similar to that of “The Silent Generation” who lived through the Great Depression.
I have considered launching a rap career. All I need to do is speak like I have no education, repeat a bunch of gibberish over a beat that reminds people of Ms. Pacman and – BAM! – platinum ring tone money, y'all.
Instead of using her time of uncertainty to patent a dance called the Hotsauce (don’t steal my idea), Darby opted instead to write. Here's how she captures her anxiety.
"Ten. An unassuming number. Small. Brings up memories of counting on your fingers and watching Sesame Street, learning the basics, or even that time in life when you thought you were grown, but everyone knew you were still just a baby.
Except that ten doesn’t mean any of those things to me anymore. These days, it represents the number of close friends I have who’ve been laid off … in the past year, not because of their lack of hard work, not because of their lack of dedication, but because of the lack of this economy.
Ten … and counting.
My friends who have degrees from prestigious universities, post-graduate degrees, and have excelled at almost everything they’ve touched have become victims to the layoff phenomenon. These same people who thought they had stable jobs and had been told from school that all they needed to do was be great at what they do, and they’d continue to succeed, were lied to.
We were all lied to. Not purposely, but for some reason, nowhere along our journey to achieve were we told the economy would be the thing to get you fired. Sure, being Black, we all knew from an early age that we needed to be 4 times, sometimes 5 times better than the next person to make it… but no one ever said what would happen if you were 4 and 5 times better and it still wasn’t enough.
Now, this is not to compare our struggles to the struggles of our ancestors, but let me tell you, it’s extremely unsettling for me to see the peers that I looked up to now looking for jobs. They had careers and now they’re looking for jobs.
And they’re not the only ones. Ten just represents the close friends I have who’ve been laid off. But I have friends and associates, especially in the journalism business, who face the concept of being let go everyday. I have friends and associates, who if you were to add them to my count of friends who’ve been fired in the past year, I’m sure that number would top seventy.
So I stick with ten, even though it is many things in one number. Ten is reassuring and frightening all in one. It’s big for my friends who’ve dealt with the fear and the pain of being told you no longer have employment, but it’s small in comparison to the vast numbers of people who have felt this same pain.
Ten evokes fear and faith all in one. It frightens even the coldest heart and brings about worries and concerns of when or if you’ll be next. But it also makes me hold on stronger to my faith and forces me to believe that God won’t ever let something happen to me that I couldn’t handle with Him.
And finally, ten represents the past and the future. For my friends who’ve lost their jobs, those things are now in the past. They were what once was, but those same people (and all of us, really) now have a chance to look to the future… for when the recession will be over and I can write about my friends who’ve found their way again. I long for that day; for when ten seems so small, once again. I just hope that I’m not a part of the number by the time it happens… and that it gets no bigger with anymore of my loved ones.
But I guess, really, that’s what we all long for. We’re all hopefully cautious, determined not to let this get us down, but anxiously waiting for the day we can finally breathe again."
For those young and older, how do you cope with the uncertainty of the times?
Post your thoughts in the comments section and continue to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.