One thing that constantly frustrates me more than it used to is being dismissed for feeling a certain way, and then blamed for it. Like, when I had all of those dead-end, retail jobs that took a huge toll on my mental health (and that was only a small fraction of things doing that to me in that long stretch of time, mind you), I pretty much started believing from the very beginning that if anything felt overwhelming, gave me anxiety and caused me to isolate myself more than ever, it was my fault. I didn’t fit the “status quo”. Therefore, I had to LEARN to be like everyone else who seemed to be living society’s expectations at my age. They BEEN having a drivers license. They had BEEN having a post-college “career” and were (like everyone I know now complains about regarding Facebook) showing the world the news of getting engaged to someone or even having their first child. Meanwhile, I was being bullied by supervisor after supervisor, co-worker after co-worker, talked down to and belittled by job coaches, acting coaches and a number of things I have talked about a lot already on this blog done to me by my ex-girlfriend. If there is one thing I took away from this after it all washed away, it’s that I am not the only one of this generation who is in this position. In fact, it stretches far beyond mental health and learning disabilities. It’s a generational thing all brought to the forefront economically, having a devastating impact on future generations. The previous generations, in hindsight, represent every single authority figure I have had to deal with up to this point. Not just that even. But everyone my age I knew up to a certain point because they were, like me, influenced by this stigma-fueled, basic, black-and-white “if you work hard, everything will fall into place” mentality. The other part that may have been the biggest contributor to this though were the environments I was placed in since I was born. Up until about a year ago, everything I was taught from the start, I believed.
To make it simple, that you are a failure at life if you don’t get your drivers license as a teenager, you don’t go out partying every week in college and into your 20s, you are still a virgin at that same time, and lastly and the most relevant, you are in your late 2os and early 30s after graduating from a college that left a mental scar and failed you in terms of success, you don’t have a job or any future family plans and you still live with your parents, while your only income comes from social security checks you were approved of getting pretty much because you lucked out (I’m not physically disabled so therefore “I can work” but somehow I slid through the cracks anyway).
Having said all this, I have learned within the past year that I am one of the first in the states (and apparently it’s not much different in the UK today also) to live this kind of life at this age and it isn’t considered as abnormal as it once was. This is why I identify plenty with the recent meme phenomenon #OKBoomer. While many articles I read about it go the political and economic route by default while explaining it, to me this shift is something that is also fueled by false conservative values that we were taught as kids by adults who were speaking from THEIR younger experiences on how to become successful and live a happy, fulfilling life. When I look back on it, it’s as simple and unrealistic as I thought then while no one else did. It’s toxic too. The same thing applies to how “thinking positive” and how “when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you” are thrown in our faces by people “trying to help” us. It’s all bullshit to me. The difference between then and now is, everyone attacked me then for being against this philosophy and not meeting the social expectations in life at specific milestone ages. Now, after all is said and done, I am now hearing about, (just like everything else that came clear into my mind about how valid my feelings of abuse were in the past, thanks to my therapist) these same issues I faced all of a sudden being addressed by and LISTENED to from younger people still in the millennial bracket and even people in the Gen Z bracket. It’s pretty obvious that once again, I’m not crazy and people are now seeing that for what it really is.
But, also once again, my voice is left out of the conversation. When these things were going on in my life, no one took me seriously. There was no media outlet paying attention. No perceived mental health “trends”, and the phrase “children are the future” was being joked about by LIBERAL radio talk shows who said “today that must mean the ‘future’ is where every adult is on their phones playing Angry Birds, whining about entitlement blah blah blah……”. Now that the shift is happening finally, I’ve already been fucked over and the past 10 years of my life have been fucking ruined and wiped out of existence.
The one bright side to this is that the “boomers” who ruled my previous life I will outlive obviously. Thus the things I’m doing now being a part of a shift could be passed on to generations that will outlive ME. It would be great to finally live in a world one day where the average, stereotypical old person is no longer a racist, sexist, homophobic Trump supporter who was raised in a time when all of those types of things were socially accepted and “they liked it that way”.