I Am From the Hopeless Generation
I am from the hopeless generation.
I was born 177 days before the Twin Towers fell. My generation has no memory of a world without security cameras, airport pat downs, and Patriotic Actors.
I am from the generation who prayed in high school every time someone dropped a book or smacked a locker, thinking a shooter was about to take us too early from our mothers.
My generation has been told endlessly by our elders we must work hard. So we work until our schedules don’t have time for bathroom breaks, until we forget eight straight hours of sleep, until our backs turn to rock and our stomach linings erode, until our eyes burn themselves shut, until our brains break down under the pressure of it all so we gobble down some antidepressants and head to practice, sore before the workout even starts. We work hard to attend colleges that cost more than our grandparent’s forty-year career salaries in the hopes of joining a job market they wouldn’t even recognize. We feed into a social security system that will pay for their retirement but will crash before we ever reach their age. We don’t complain though. We learned early that, for us, security in our society was only ever going to be an illusion anyway.
I come from a generation of girls who are told how lucky we are to live in this day and age where we are free, but who have also been told our whole lives, in one way or another, that we somehow don’t look the way we are supposed to. We come to find that #wetoo have a story to tell, often before we have a high school diploma. Then we are told that speaking up and acting strong makes us stupid, overemotional, or even nasty, so I wonder sometimes: free to be whom exactly?…Certainly not ourselves.
And I come from a generation of boys who can’t even ponder such feelings because that of course would make them pussies. And there can be nothing worse in this world than being a pussy (except possibly having one).
And to my darling peers outside the cisgender binary, don’t worry about your problems; we’ve been assured they’re not real seeing as you’re just confused and don’t really exist.
This of course cannot be said for the rest of my generation’s queer community, which I imagine has a bone to pick with Dr. Seuss. You see he told us that once the animals in the Jungle of Nool heard the Whos in Whoville, they refused to burn them in Beezle-Nut stew, but my generation has found that after years of shouting, “We are here! We are here! We are here!” in rainbow colors and big parades, that, while the Jungle could no longer deny our existence, the animals still want to burn the proudest among us.
I am from a generation that knows if we are to say all lives matter, all lives must matter equally.
This summer, my generation stayed indoors and covered our faces. We worked low paying jobs selling food and services to ungrateful, mouth-breathing, personal-space-invading assholes because we are the generation tasked with building adult lives in a world full of people acting like children. And we know that those of us who survive will need all the money we can get to stay alive since medicines cost as much as car payments and our government has decided “affordable” is now a dirty word.
My generation is poised to inherit a poisoned world. Its current possessors are too scared to do something about it, so they’ve tried to convince us nothing is dying. But perhaps this is just an easier story for them to spin. In reality, all the carbon they’ve destroyed now lies between two pages on their desk, through which the signature on their wills will transfer down, effectively signing off our deaths with theirs, until one day only cockroaches will populate the estate sale.
We are asked to understand a world that we are too young to remember, that is too changed for those with longer memories to understand. Where does that leave us, we wonder?
We are from the hopeless generation.
But we are the hope.
We can do better.
Anastasia Simms is a second-year honors student at Kent State University studying English, Psychology, and Creative Writing. She has loved reading and writing her whole life, so much so that as a young girl her mom gave her notebooks as presents to stop her from writing on napkins, the mail, or whatever other scraps of paper she could find. Anastasia hopes that her writing will positively impact others just as the written word has always done for her.