To Achieve Your Dreams, Lower Your Expectations

Remember those dumb dreams you used to have? Owning a house? Driving a car? Having a nice, tasteful, not over-the-top Not being more than 50K in debt from undergrad? In these times of economic turmoil, The Youths are learning that the only way to achieve their dreams is to change them to something less dreamy. Basically, if you're under 25, you're screwed, forever!

The LATimes reports,

Fewer than half of Americans believe that the current generation will have a better life than the last, according to a Gallup poll this spring. It was the most pessimistic showing for that barometer in nearly three decades.

Another poll, of Americans ages 18 to 29, found that three-quarters of them expect to delay a major life change or purchase because of economic factors.

The dreary outlook of young people is partly backed up by grim statistics; as of last month, nearly 18% of 16-24 year olds are unemployed (astute readers might point out that many in this demographic are in school and don't need jobs; the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics defines "unemployed" as "jobless, looking for a job, and able to work." Thus, if someone was able to work but not looking for a job because they are full-time students, they would not count as part of this number).

It doesn't take a college degree to figure out that if you don't have a job, you can't pay your student loans. And if you can't pay your student loans, you probably also can't pay rent (an estimated 85% of the college class of 2011 followed graduation with a move home to live with their parents). If you can't pay your loans or rent, you can't save up for a down payment on a house, and if you can't save up for that, you probably can't save up for a wedding.

This generation is getting hosed, and, as a result, many young people are opting to forego investing in the stock market, or investing at all for the long shitty term.

Adam Hobbi, 20, is already a veteran at dealing with economic troubles. His father, an engineer, was laid off twice during the recession and then saw his 401(k) fund topple.

Hobbi, unlike his parents and a huge percentage of their generation, will not be playing the stock market.

"I'm not one to really gamble, especially seeing what my dad has gone through," said Hobbi, an engineering student at USC. "It's been tough for all of us."

It doesn't look like the outlook for the young is going to improve anytime soon, either. Doom, doom, gloom!

The job situation could haunt young people for years, said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

More than half of earnings growth over a lifetime happens in the first decade of a career, meaning that early unemployment can depress future wages for life, he said.

But older workers are staying longer in their jobs, forcing twentysomethings to fill up retail, fast-food and other part-time spaces that traditionally give teens their first paycheck. Without work experience, young job seekers will need to scramble for options, he said.

Old people need to die or retire faster in order to make room for young people at the bottom of the corporate ladder, but that's not happening. This means sadness forever.

It's especially not happening for those who majored in the liberal arts.

"Those majoring in computer science, engineering, accounting and health occupations, for example, have been much more successful in getting jobs," (Sun) said. "Kids who majored in humanities often end up doing really, really badly in the labor market."

My English major weeps from behind the glass where it hangs in my childhood bedroom, gathering dust next to the crucifix I got for perfect attendance at CCD.

All fearmongering aside, it seems that during the recession, the media loves to make crazy dream chasing liberal arts majors feel bad about their choice to study something less fiscally lucrative. I don't think that most people who majored in Art History honestly expect to work for an investment bank and drive a Maserati home into one of those circular driveways with a fountain in the middle. In my experience, liberal arts majors choose their path with full knowledge that they're probably not ever going to be rich.

And, people only a few years younger than I, having to struggle a little bit isn't the worst thing in the world (the worst thing in the world is sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours and missing your connecting flight, or cutting jalapenos without wearing gloves and then masturbating). Some of my most hilarious stories come from the nine months I spent being a laboratory test subject and part-time nanny while I studied for certification exams I had to take before I entered my current industry (Twist! It's banking!). Your whole life isn't ruined by having to try, or trying to find success in a way you didn't expect, even though living at home might mean that you sometimes hear your parents doing it.

Generation Vexed: Young Americans Rein In Their Dreams [LAT]

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