04/29/2013 11:54 am ET Updated Jun 29, 2013

The Bright Future of Hopelessness


In church today, someone told me I had a bright future ahead of me. I smiled. In my mind, I replayed "Make the Money" by Macklemore. Do I have a bright future ahead of me?

Probably not. I am part of the millennial generation, and I know my odds. I will go into the workforce with an impressively high debt. The average net worth of someone 29-37 has fallen by 21 percent since 1983. By the time I turn 29, it will most likely be many times higher. I am part of a generation that holds on to money, and it is more than justified in a world of inflation. I pay for skating lessons and see the hundreds of dollars from relatives (I have many) shrivel to cents and then see myself go into debt. We have a high risk aversion and who can blame us? Rejecting sex is not too hard when an accidental baby will likely belong to a single mother. Who can blame women for rejecting men when the unemployment rate is high, the percentage of people giving up on searching for jobs is as frightening as King Kong and the cost of babies?

I am told to follow my dreams, but there is no way for me to know as a teenage high schooler what my dreams for the next 50 or so years will be. Do I dream to not have to worry for a family like mine whose one breadwinner is unemployed? What if my dreams are for an El Dorado America? What then, mom?

I attend school in a trance. Math is horrifying, but STEM careers are on the rise. English I love, but what do I do with an English major? I look for internships and am tempted to give up my dream internship in photography for one in bio technology. Thank goodness Texas Campaign for the Environment saves me and I compromise between dreams and boredom.

It does not seem right to go through life making decisions which factor in my desires less than or on par with the staggering economy's whims. My classmate says that she never pays attention in Spanish class because she wants to be a petroleum engineer. "STEM careers after all are on the rise right, Silvia?" They should be, but my engineer dad is unemployed and has been for months now. He would work in a STEM field, but no one will employ him because he is near retirement.

I want a world in which my dad, the person who has helped me dredge through 17 years of school, who graduated first in his university class and was hired by Fiat right after college, can get a job and be allowed to keep it because no more cuts are coming. I want a world in which newspapers are not the first to go because the New York Times Sunday is the highlight of my week and the first to tell me of my employment possibilities. I want a world in which I do not have to sacrifice my love of journalism or diplomacy or biology for a monotonous career in something I hate or for unemployment. I want stability, but there is no stability to be found. Macklemore refers to his drug addiction when he says he is fighting his demons. I fight my own, but they instead strip me bare and chip at my hope for myself and everyone else's future.