In an interview with a team of rising graphic artists-slash-photographers-slash-stylists, they brought up an interesting question. “What does it mean to be made?” (The next few sentences are paraphrased.) “Is it when you have your own studio? Or when you have a house and lot? Or when you’ve made enough money?” For the generation that precedes ours, they tell us it’s mostly about answering the last two questions–being able to live a comfortable and secure life with no worries about the essentials. Obviously I have no problems with that, but can one really say they’re “made” by then? Maybe matters of security are more of being made for them, while for our generation, it’s taken on a less material meaning.
According to popular media and online social networks, being “made” means having a viral video, being featured in notable magazines, or being able to rub elbows with high society personalities. The first either means you’re clever, witty, funny, or are laugh worthy. The second usually goes to those who do deserve merit, but coming from the industry, it does help if you have the connections. And the last? Well, I’m sure there are those who would feel more made than ever then, but again, coming from the industry, they’re people too–flaws and annoying habits included. Plus rubbing elbows with the big wigs only has its perks if you actually work with them, i.e. those in the media and financial industries. If you’re only after the social climbing aspect, then that’s another matter.
Or has “being made” become something more personal now? The TIME article Grow Up? Not So Fast, defines America’s Twixter generation, a perfect example of what comes before one tries to be made:
full-grown men and women who still live with their parents, who dress and talk and party as they did in their teens, hopping from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere.
Although the Philippines is not experiencing the same economic difficulty (instead, our own, never ending variation of financial crisis–well, at least the non-trust fund babies), much of the young Filipino adult population copes the same way. A colleague of mine once told me she had already been through around 16 jobs already, at at the age of around 26, mentioning this after discussing the simple reality no job is ever perfect. True enough, there never will be an ideal company, office, or boss. The rising conflict between reality and expectation grows by the mile as young billionaires grace magazine covers and businesses demand we “need” every other new product they release in the market. We never make enough to attain material happiness, losing sight of everything else outside that scope.
Our options to attain such financial “stability”? There are jobs we take for the sake of security, other because of the opportunity (only to find out it’s not all cracked up to be), and those that only last between six to 12 months because of the contract terms. We were taught that if we worked hard enough, we would be promoted and rewarded dutifully. But such isn’t the case anymore with many companies, what with the limitation of resources, the worldwide crisis, and the simple kuripotness of the higher ups. You’d be lucky to get into a multinational, but I’ve also heard people go that the tasks get to repetitive, and isn’t what they envision themselves doing for the rest of their lives. Yet another case of reality vs. expectation. We expect instant or at least eventual rewards, but can’t wait it out because of the instant gratification technology feeds.
These engraved or advertised expectations lead us to jump from job to job, trying to discover what will fit us in the long run, or at least lead us to the “open road.” Quoting some more from the TIME article,
It’s too easy to write them off as overgrown children, he argues. Rather, he suggests, they’re doing important work to get themselves ready for adulthood. “This is the one time of their lives when they’re not responsible for anyone else or to anyone else,” Arnett says. “So they have this wonderful freedom to really focus on their own lives and work on becoming the kind of person they want to be.” In his view, what looks like incessant, hedonistic play is the twixters’ way of trying on jobs and partners and personalities and making sure that when they do settle down, they do it the right way, their way. It’s not that they don’t take adulthood seriously; they take it so seriously, they’re spending years carefully choosing the right path into it.
In my current early 20-something crisis, a friend shared some valuable insight (paraphrased): “We’re expected to get our act together by 21.” Twenty-one. It’s the time we’re fresh out of college, not even sure if the course we chose will really clear the path to success. It’s just the first year of adulthood and we’re not even sure where we should be headed. But despite the expectation of others, we still have all the time in the world. Why jump into something you will regret when you can experience different options and eventually pick the right path?
My mother herself told me she realized teaching was her sure path when she hit 40. Environmental advocate Roz Savage gave up her life as an investment banker and management consultant at the age of 34–a life of stable income and rich material things–to row the Atlantic and explore the world. American fiction writer Ben Fountain had to endure 15 or so years before finalizing his work Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.
Life may be lived for the present, but it doesn’t mean rushing into a future you’re uncertain of. So go on Twixters, sort it all out and soon, we’ll all discover our own definition of being made. Defining ourselves will never be as fast as the best third world DSL connection. Life is a journey, and it’s up to use to discover the right destination.