This is my GenX Confession...(part 1)


A big word with a lot of promise.

I look back now and realize what influence growing up in the 80's really had on me. The increasing wealth, advancing technology, and booming commerce was normal. Most everyone I knew lived in a single family home and their parents worked at a local manufacturing plant or retail store...many owned their own business.  Everyone treated their kids to happy meals on a regular basis, Nintendos at Christmas, and Keds for back to school.   Of course a 10 year old doesn't understand Wall Street booms and trickle down economics. A kid has no context for what things like Nintendo, Walkmen, Wal-Mart super stores, and McDonald's franchises mean to their reality. To me, it was normal stuff. Those things had always been there. And, as far as I knew, they always would be. And, by the way, most everyone could afford that lifestyle (or so it seemed).

When I grew up, it was expected I would go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, and live the American dream. Just like my parents did. Only I was going to do it better. That's how America has worked for generations. Each one doing better than the previous.

In the Spring of 2000 I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Business Communications. I had 4 different job offers to choose from, with salaries starting at 28K all the way up to over 40K. I took the job I thought was the best choice, and into the workforce I went. I was 22 years old, making more than 30 grand a year, working in television, and on top of the world. I had officially started my American dream.

Then reality hit...and it hit hard. Six months after graduation, in December of 2000, I received a lovely letter from the lovely student loan people that I had to begin repayment of my loan. The balance was over 32K. My credit card bills started adding up. They were nearing 20K...I mean, I really needed to buy a new wardrobe for work, a TV, some furniture...I was making money now, right? I was 23 years old and over 50 grand in debt, making just over 30K a year. But, I was young and had plenty of time to pay down the debt. Besides, my salary would continue to go up as moved up in my company, and I eventually would buy a house and build equity. So, it would be OK.

I kept this up for the next year. Living paycheck to paycheck, never budgeting, never saving, trying to make minimum payments on credit cards and pay rent/bills, but keep up the lifestyle to which I was accustomed (thanks to my parents).

I kept telling myself things would get better. I would get a better job, make more money, pay down debt, find the right guy, and get the American dream back on track. I still had hope. I was told all my life that if I went to college and got a good job, I would be OK. But, as the years started to pass, I started noticing my expectations and my reality were at odds with each other. My salary didn't increase more than 3% a year. I would get bored with a job, quit, and have to start over somewhere else. The bills kept piling up, but the salary still didn't rise much. In fact, it went the wrong way a few times....but, I thought, I won't work somewhere I hate just because the pay is higher than another job. It became harder and harder to meet someone. I couldn't figure out really where to meet someone after I was taken out of the automatic social setting of a college town.

Suddenly, I wake up and I'm 32. I am finally making more money than I was 10 years ago, but I still can't afford to buy a house. Not quite yet...but I'm getting closer. I'm still in debt. Yes, I still have those student loans. I am still struggling to get ahead. I know I am not alone. Many of my Gen X friends have the same problems. The world has changed so fast, and it feels like we got caught in the middle.

When my parents were my age, they owned a home and a business, 2 cars, and a vacation time share in Florida. I own a 46" flat screen and an Ikea couch and cabinet.

I get the feeling my expectations never gave reality a chance. But, I am still working for my American dream. It just may look a little bit different than I originally thought.


  1. Well said- you sit and wonder when is it going to be easier and we'll be where my parent's are/were. Answer = never

  2. Nice post. I think, especially in light of everything that's going on financially (i.e. how corporations just posted the highest profits EVER) socially, and politically, is that, like George Carlin said in one of the videos you posted, we're all owned. The American Dream is just a myth. A lie to get you to give your money and allegiance to corporate fat-cats. The beauty of it is that it works so well. America's the Titanic heading for the iceberg - almost everyone knows it - yet they continue to do nothing. Well, nothing aside from watch TV that is.