Monday, 29 September 2014

Are We Really Generation Wuss?

Bret Easton Ellis has branded millennials as Generation Wuss - branding us as 'over-sensitive' and 'self-obsessed' He blames our parents for over-protecting us and shielding us from the harsh realities of life. He says social media has made us narcissistic and more worried about what other people think of us than any other generation before us.

The 50-year old author says that he does sympathise with Gen Y though - growing up in the wake of 9/11 and economic crisis as well as an ever 'demeaning sexual atmosphere that places a relentless emphasis on good looks (Tinder being the most prevalent example)'.

Some older generations may agree with this analysis and it's not the first time that millennials have been branded as narcissistic. It's practically the defining quality of our generation - but is it fair to make a sweeping generalisation about an entire age group? Could we do the same with baby boomers and Gen X? We've all grown up in different sets of circumstances in an ever changing world - so of course our approach to life will vary - but is it really fair to label millennials as spoilt brats? 

As a generation - we were encouraged to go to university and promised a promising career as a result - but then the economic crisis hit and this promise crumbled. As companies disappeared, the playing field got smaller and the opportunities diminished. Suddenly - university wasn't your one stop shop to a promising and illustrious career - it just made you one of many. 

There is the thought that millennials want something for nothing. They don't want to work for their opportunities and expect them to be handed on a plate - and why this is true for some - especially those who dream of fame and fortune - it has become increasingly hard for our generation to gain opportunities. To get anywhere - particularly in the creative industries - you have to commit to working for free for years to get any opportunity to slide your way into the industry. For some - this isn't viable - particularly those outside cities who have shockingly high train tickets to pay for. 

So I think it's understandable that we've become disheartened and frustrated generation that are 'over-sensitive and desperate'. We imagined adulthood to be freeing but many of us are still living at our parents or living hand to mouth to cope.

Just as Gen X grew up in a changing social presence of increased freedom and new attitudes and the presence of youth culture - Gen Y have grown up around the increasing presence of social media and all that comes with it. We are the digital generation and our lives are lived online. Social media was born and thrived during our most formative years - so is it any wonder it's become such a huge presence in our lives? Has it affected how we view and present ourselves? Yes - but no more than previous generations trying to fit in. Of course there is more criticism of our generation and we can be targeted and abused by people we have never even met - but I would argue that rather than us being crumbling wrecks like Bret describes us - it has made us stronger. We've probably put up with more criticism than any other generation because we've opened our lives to the world.

Living our lives online has made us compare our lives more than any other generation before us - we have the constant sense of never being quite good enough or matching up to our peers. Before - you could largely avoid this unless you bumped into an old friend or compared yourselves to friends but now you have access to all of your university peers and old workmates at the touch of a button. 

Our lives are so different - can you even compare the generations? The majority of our parents were married with children in careers and owning homes within their twenties - but that's becoming increasingly unlikely for our generation who will be lucky to achieve this by their thirties. Some of us may never even own a home.

Isn't every generation of twenty-somethings lost? We're all finding our feet and while every generation will claim they did it better - we're all growing in different times and I don't think it's ever fair to compare or generalise.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Is the Quarter-Life Crisis a Thing?

If you read Buzzfeed or anything aimed at millennials - you may have heard of the 'Quarter-Life Crisis'. Before the age of the millennials  - life crises were aimed at the middle aged and those turning 30 - so is the quarter-life crisis really a thing or should those of us in our mid-twenties just shut up and get on with life? Was the quarter-life crisis really there all along?

I have to say, I'm strongly on the side of the quarter-life crisis being a thing. Your twenties are a strange time of adulthood - where you're only really just finding your feet. Out of uni and into the world of employment - your twenties are the slap in the face of reality that perhaps your dream of moving out of your parents and getting your dream job isn't as easy as you imagined.

Many of us had dreams of being in our ideal jobs by our mid-twenties but in reality - it just doesn't happen that way and life plans become a bit pointless because it's impossible to follow unrealistic targets. So when we're at the age where we thought we would be well on our career path - we're really only just finding our feet or still trying to get them through the door.

Add onto this, that in your twenties your peers begin doing very grown up things like getting married and having children while you're still single and couldn't even begin to imagine looking after a real life mini human-being when you can barely keep a house plant alive.

Soon your Facebook is filled with people getting engaged, married, buying houses, having children, having more children or travelling the world while you spend your weekends sighing at your empty bank account and watching YouTube (or is that just me?).

You find yourself desperate to get your shit together, much earlier than you ever imagined. The transition from getting pissed all the time and being carefree to having to pay rent and bills comes all too soon and like a frustrated toddler - it just isn't fair.

Already it feels like we have to have it all. We need to have the great place, the great boyfriend/girlfriend, the great job and great prospects. This seems to be the basis of all social questions and if you have no reply - well you're disappointing and boring.

Now maybe this state of mind is something that's always been there that our older peers never warned us about or maybe it depends on your circumstances if you get the quarter-life crisis at all. If everything is going to plan, you wouldn't really have much need for panic - or would you?

In this digital age of blogs, social media and more consumerism than ever - we really have no escape from being bombarded with what everyone else has. So is it any wonder we might feel insignificant or severely lagging. If you haven't found the one, the perfect job, managed to afford the bag of the season or risk debt on a monthly basis to at least fill your life with material possessions - you're not alone. There's a whole generation of us and if we're all honest with ourselves - this state of mind has probably always been there through the ages.

So as I dread my 25th birthday in May, knowing that with every year I am edging closer to 30, I can know that I'm not alone in feeling like I do and that I'm likely to face ongoing crises of life throughout the years and everything falls into place for different people at different times. And if it doesn't - well I can just have a well deserved breakdown.

Are you part of the quarter-life crisis? Are you older and have pearls of wisdom for the millennials? Let me know!

Friday, 12 September 2014

10 Things to Never Say to Me

I have been feeling frustrated and full of needless rage this week and it got me thinking about all the things people say that make me bubble with inside rage every time I hear them - so I thought I'd list them for future reference in the hope it offsets these comments as well as just allowing myself to vent without moaning anybody's ear off. Let me point out, this is not a direct or indirect form of passive aggressiveness to anybody. Just my own general frustrations!

1. "Have you got a boyfriend yet?"

My answer is the same as the last time you asked me. If you knew anything about me, you'd know that eternal spinster is a personality trait. The funniest thing about this question is the increasing worry each time I say no and 'helpful' suggestions. Believe me - I've tried it all. You can't force a boyfriend upon yourself - especially when you are a magnet for toxic men.

2. "You don't drive? How do you cope?!"

No, I don't drive. Yes I have had lessons, when I was 17 and it was expensive, scary and overwhelming. There is so much to remember and I hated being in control of a vehicle. It's not something I can go back to because I barely have enough spare money to live - let alone buy a car and learn to drive. 

3. "Why don't you try and make new friends?"

I am not three years old - if you try and make friends with strangers at 24 they give you funny looks. I do try, but people have their own impenetrable cliques by this point. I would join groups or classes - but they're surprisingly expensive. My close friends are more than enough - It's just difficult to make plans for every weekend. 

4.  "Aren't you a bit old for McBusted/McFly"

No. Never. Mcfly til I die. The supergroup of my two favourite groups of all time is like an amalgamation of all my dreams coming true. I was actually 12 when Busted hit the scene, so surely growing up with both bands makes it ok? I just stuck around for the journey and I will continue going to shows. Stop judging me!

5. "I just don't really see the point in feminism"

You don't see the point of equal pay and getting paid the same as your male counterparts? You don't see the point of abolishing sexual objectification and the sexist comments you get on a daily basis? You don't see the point of having women portrayed fairly in the media? OK THEN.

6. "What's it like living alone?"

Peaceful, liberating but LONELY. 

7. "You have too many clothes / need to stop shopping."


8. "Have you tried *insert food* - you might like it."

NO. It looks gross. It smells gross. Keep the seafood to yourself.

9. "What do you eat then?"

Meat, potatoes in many forms, cake in many forms…ANYTHING BEIGE AND BLAND.

10. "How are you already poor a week after payday?"

I am terrible with money and don't have much spare anyway. You do the math. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Problem With Body Hair

I've debated doing this blog, because I know the general consensus over body hair, but I think it's an issue that needs addressing and talking about.

As a feminist, I've often had my own debates with myself over body hair and while I do admire women brave enough to grow - I just can't do it. Now I don't believe this makes me any less of a feminist - we come in all shapes and sizes - but why is it that I feel so pressured to reach for the razor?

As soon as a girl enters puberty (and for me it was extremely early) they are almost instantly persuaded to rid themselves of their new found body hair. We are bombarded with pictures and advertisements in the media telling us that we need to keep our skin silky and smooth and hairless.

A recent Veet advertisement implied that if you let your hair growth slip - then you risked looking like a dude. But really, why does it seem so unnatural for a woman to have body hair when body hair is actually a very natural thing? Less than 100 years ago, it was fairly common for women to have body hair until an advertiser came along, said it was ugly, and that women needed to rid themselves of hair to be attractive and womanly. Up until as recently as the 70s and before the rise of porn - it was also very normal for women to have fully grown bushes too!

I've heard and seen comments from people in reference to body hair on women like it's a disgusting thing. But actually - I admire women who feel brave enough to go against society and embrace a very natural thing.

It's something I still don't feel brave enough to do myself and it frustrates me. I'm currently in the process of growing my body hair out in preparation for a wax and I feel so uncomfortable and ugly. I've had to opt for long sleeve tops and tights or jeans to hide my hair. But why do I care so much about what other people think?

As a girl that lived her teen years through the 00s when celebrity culture was at a peak and size zero and Hollywood waxes became a thing - I have grown up in an impressionable time when focus on body image has become more important that ever.

Being told body hair is disgusting and that it is more normal for women to have none than some, has meant that I feel I have to shave and wax to feel accepted and attractive. I wish I could go against this type, but it's something I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable with.

But I want to put out my admiration for women who aren't afraid to grow body hair and plead with others not to judge them or look at their hair in disgust. What they are doing is actually very brave and think carefully about why you feel the way you do about body hair. It's a very normal thing and it frustrates me when I see people say it's disgusting. It's not disgusting, it's normal and natural. Your body hair is there for a reason just like eyebrows and the hair on your head.

Question why we don't feel the same way about body hair on men. Why are men allowed to be as hairy as they like? In fact, with men, we can often feel very opposite - and they can be judged when they don't have much body hair and choose to rid themselves of it.

Now I realise that I sound hypocritical when I choose to shave myself, but I just wanted to get you thinking about your own opinion on body hair.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Material Girl

"Because we are living in a material world and I'mma material girl."

We live in a material society where it's all about what you have and how much you have and I will freely admit I am a materialistic person. I live in a tiny studio flat, yet it is cluttered with things and I'm pretty sure if I don't stop soon it's going to look like an episode of hoarders.

Throughout my life, I never stop wanting. Whether I'm dreaming of visiting yet another place on my travelling list, lusting after the latest collection in Topshop, dreaming of Chanel or just want another bargain DVD to add to my ever-growing collection - my life revolves around stuff and the getting of it.

Currently on my top list of lust is a trip to New York, a shabby chic dressing table and Babyliss Curl Secret. I've decided I'm going to try and start saving month by month for the New York trip but that throws out the other two lusts and means months of strict savings ahead of me.

Now I know I need to see the bigger picture here, and that those months of hard work will lead to visit my favourite city once again and go on a mega spending spree - but it's going to be hard to remember that in the following months when I desperately try to save my money.

I'm coming across rather spoilt, I know it's not possible to have everything you want in life, but I can't help lusting. Some people are quite content with very little in their life, but I just want ALL THE THINGS.

Some people become alcoholics, some take drugs, some binge eat and others shop. I fall into that shopping category. I use the buying of things to fill the little space inside of me that isn't content, but like all quick fixes - it does't last for long. That emptiness appears again and you need some shiny thing to make you all smug again.

This leads to me face the same situation every month, where ridiculously early after payday, I find myself with very little money to take me through the rest of the month. It simply vanishes - but the truth is - I've spent it.

Now I have very little spare money anyway and unexpected costs like 'that bill you forgot about' or needing to pay out for new specs can lead to an unexpected dent in your spare money and not help the money situation much more.

The issue is - I live alone, I don't get to see friends much and my family are busy - so often I'm left with little to do and the only way to fill my time is shopping or internet browsing. Or lay on the sofa in frustration.

Shopping fills a void and fills me with things that make me happy like pretty dresses, gorgeous shoes, beautiful bags, cute homeware and gripping books and DVDs. But how long is that hole really filled and how much will it take until I'm content? Will I ever be? Until I get that Chanel 2.5 bag or Mulberry Alexa? Louboutin shoes or a whole counter of designer make up? Where does it end?

Thankfully, I don't go completely without. I have supportive family and have been fairly spoilt in my time. With lovely christmas gifts or ongoing debt - but I can't help but feel jealous when I see others with what I still lust for.

I know this materialism needs to go on the back burner and that to enjoy truly great things that you have to save and earn them. I just wish society would make it a tad easier and I had other stuff in my life to keep me distracted or a 6 figure salary.

So the challenge awaits - can the splurger save?