In this week’s Sunday Review, a couple academics wrote a damning criticism of young(ish) Americans lack of mobility, momentum, and drive, called “The Go Nowhere Generation”. In making a case that our generation has been sissy-fied by a persistently weak economy, the authors cited a handful of statistics about how twentysomethings are 40% less likely to move to another state than they were 30 years ago and how teenagers who spend more time on Facebook are more likely to delay applying for a drivers license. In other words, the internet and the shitty economy have turned us all into lazy pussies who are afraid of life.
Initially, I was inclined to argue that just because our generation is disinclined to move to North Dakota in search of work, that doesn’t mean we lack the zeal of earlier generations; it just means we like where we live. But as I considered that response, it made me realize that the comforts of home can definitely become a crutch and the internet can slowly erode the desire to go out and do stuff. I’ve lived in San Francisco for four and a half years, and even though I’ve been without fulltime work since last summer (I’m freelancing mom, it’s fine), I realize part of the reason I’ve resisted moving someplace with more video work is because San Francisco is such a nice place to live. But maybe it’s because I am also scared of risk/living. So, I decided to take Mr. and Mrs. Buchholz at their word, and say that yes, we’re all afraid of life. And with that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions for ways we can get over it.
Move someplace where you don’t have a job and don’t have any friends. I’ve done this exactly once, when I moved to LA when I got out of college and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. Granted, I was kind of forced to do something, but there’s nothing as exhilarating as landing someplace new and starting from scratch. Let me ask you this? Are you so happy with your life that you’re scared to dump it to do something.
Quit your job and start a business. I’ve also done this exactly once, but again, great decision. While the business didn’t turn into a multi-million-dollar corporation, it went okay for a couple of years and then I left, still on good terms with my old partner. What I learned wasn’t just how to run quickbooks and have employees and deal with tax law, I also learned what I was good at and what I wasn’t. Someday, you’ll have kids and a mortgage and you’ll really be stuck, so you should get on this now, while you still can.
Start a band/comedy troupe/novel/screenplay/artistic hobby/endeavor and commit to it 100% One of my big problems, and a problem of many of my creative friends is we have too many good ideas. Yeah, I said it. First it’s an idea for a tv spec script for Psych we want to write, then it’s a parody rap jazz fusion band we want to start, then it’s a podcast about popular 80s toy franchise we record one episode of, and so on. But it’s all half measures. If you want to make something happen, make it the fuck happen.
Book a trip with no return ticket. Here’s the thing, people our age (25-32), with no life plan, or 5-year-plan or whatever-the-fuck plan, we all fall into grooves, which, while comfortable, are ultimately lame and depressing and then your life winds up being disappointing. So, if you’re bad at making plans, use it to your advantage and get lost in South America or the Middle East or Asia or someplace for an undetermined amount of time.
Two words: drug binge. Soon as David Larson gets his computer back, I’m forcing him to write a much longer post in appreciation of this idea, but sometimes the kick in the pants your life needs is a good old fashioned bender. Either you have a blast and then go back to your life (after being tagged in a bunch weird photos on facebook) or you hit bottom, head to recovery and REALLY get it together.
Cut out your one of your crutches. Recently on Riki Lundholme’s Making It podcast, Thomas Lennon spoke about how when he was 27, he gave up videogames for good, and he took that energy to focus on work. Then he wrote some screenplays that made millions of dollars. If there’s something you do all the time that’s holding you back (ahem: reading blogs on the internet) maybe you should take a breather too. Or at least relegate it to one specific time period.
And with that, I suggest you pick AT LEAST one of these ideas, grab life by the horns and stop being a stereotypically stuck-in-their-life millennial. I’m totally thinking about doing it myself. One of these days.
Henry Goldman is founder of yr an adult. He knows. He’s working on it.