The effects of the recession are disheartening, to say the least. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of young adults between ages 20 and 24 has increased from 9.1 percent to 14 percent in just 10 years, and the outlook for the next few years, as we are constantly told, is desolate.
But studies have also revealed that despite these discouraging and heart-wrenching figures, optimism prevails among Generation Y – in other words, us. As a whole we've received widespread criticism; a recent issue of New York Magazine featured a cover story on "twentysomethings" with the subheading "My screwed, coddled, self-absorbed, mocked, surprisingly resilient generation." We've been under fire from accusations that denounce us as a group of optimistic, spoon-fed and unrealistic dreamers.
On behalf of the Gen. Y-ers here: Yes, we are optimistic. But as ambitious college students this optimism is more than a mutual feeling that "everything is going to be just fine."
It's taking the knowledge and intellectual breadth from our education and realizing that we have the strength to overcome the statistics and the backlash we receive almost daily. It's the anticipation we feel when we find ourselves planning for the future. It's theoretically putting ourselves into realistic situations that we are so close to facing. It's the confidence that we have in ourselves and those around us that we can confront what was left for us and we can and will deal with it.
Raised by the baby boomers – and if not, motivational posters contributed more or less the same – we were told to follow our dreams, nothing is impossible and to "reach for the moon, and if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
We're still reaching but we know that maybe the moon moved a little further out of our realm; our long-term goals might take a little longer to reach than those of our predecessors. Financially, we don't expect to have things handed to us; we share a realization that times have changed, are still changing and will always continue to change. Things don't come on silver platters here, nor will they do so in the next year, the next two years nor the rest of our lives.
Whether it be accounting, English literature or physics education we've all been set to the grindstone through our studies here. In developing the essential skills and work ethic to react to change and to adjust accordingly we know that our continuous and driven hard work will support us when we take on the future – that's our optimism.