I dream of GenY: in sync with today’s 20-something worldview

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in ANASTASIA ASHMAN,career,community,home,identity,origin,self-image

meatpacking party invite circa 1987 by Todd Worley

By ANASTASIA ASHMAN

If you’re over 30 (OK, over 40) you probably don’t yearn to recapture 20-something days of gritty uncertainty. It’s even less appealing if you’re from the tail end of the Baby Boom, a generation gap in itself.

My birth year alone meant I’d always occupy an entry-level position in that cultural generation.

Last week a visiting friend and I reminisced about our salad days in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Now Sex and the City types fill its fashion showrooms, art galleries and wine vaults but in the late ‘80s — when our loft went Hollywood in the film Fatal Attraction and Madonna launched her naughty picture book from the basement nightclub — it was a no man’s land. Motorcycle gangs. Transvestite prostitutes. Bloody meatpackers in white coats and industrial rubber boots. You know, affordable. Plus, our landlady (a dominatrix!) didn’t complain about the party noise.

Unconventional freedom after-hours compensated for our brick-wall career prospects in mainstream media, entertainment, architecture and advertising. Unlike the disaffected GenX slackers a couple years behind us, my downtown loftmates and I refused to embrace the fact we’d never build equity with our marquee employers.

We still had our eye on the ball! Just. Needed to. Get. A foot. In. The door. No surprise the rising tide of GenY and its status quo rebellion has recently uplifted me.

Even with today’s dismal economy, the blogosphere is abuzz with possibility for young adults. A location-independent lifestyle design site launched this week challenges us to “live an awesome life on your own damn terms” while top blogs of young entrepreneurs spearhead social renewal.

The idealistic, brazen careerist mindset resonates because I’m old enough to have faced the corporate cubicle and young enough to frolic with a novel and unbounded reality.

Time travel to GenY’s brand of 20-something grit is a trip I’m willing to take. Ever felt in sync with a different generation?
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Anastasia Ashman is a California-born writer/producer of neoculture entertainment based in Istanbul. This series covers what’s crossing the mind and desk of expat+HAREM’s founder.
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  • http://www.adventuresinexpatland.com Linda

    As a Baby Boomer ‘tail-ender’ like you describe, I can definitely relate to this post. In many ways I feel as though we get the best of all possible generational generalities. We respect the sacrifices of the WWII ‘Greatest Generation,’ we were steeped in Baby Boomer responsibility/loyalty/delivering on promises, and feel a kinship to Gen Xers and Gen Yers. I know I’m learning/doing/creating more now than a decade ago, but wouldn’t trade the experience and perspective gained along the way. So long as we focus on the positives rather than the less stellar qualities of each era, it makes for an exciting, exhilarating ride!

    • http://about.me/anastasia.ashman Anastasia

      Thanks Linda! Glad you feel you’ve gained useful perspective along the way. I personally could’ve *skipped* the sleepy decade before the advent of Internet, but I can be impatient about ‘gaining perspective’!

  • http://www.jenniferlawler.com Jennifer Lawler

    I’m at the very tail end of the baby boom, beginning of GenX, and have spent the last fifteen years freelancing. I can say that it has often been a nail-biting experience, but there is no other way I can have the life I want — and, with a disabled daughter who needs lots of extra attention and care — the life I need. This post is the reminder I sometimes need that it isn’t just scary — it’s also exhilarating and exciting, too!

    • http://anastasiaashman.wordpress.com/about/ Anastasia

      Great to see you here Jennifer. (For those who don’t know, Jennifer and I wrote a speculative black comedy screenplay together back in the 20-something day, adapted from her novel about star-crossed mercenaries/English scholars! <–so I guess you could say we were scrappy…even if we couldn’t convince Hollywood to make it!)

  • http://www.jenniferlawler.com Jennifer Lawler

    I’m at the very tail end of the baby boom, beginning of GenX, and have spent the last fifteen years freelancing. I can say that it has often been a nail-biting experience, but there is no other way I can have the life I want — and, with a disabled daughter who needs lots of extra attention and care — the life I need. This post is the reminder I sometimes need that it isn’t just scary — it’s also exhilarating and exciting, too!

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      Great to see you here Jennifer. (For those who don’t know, Jennifer and I wrote a speculative black comedy screenplay together back in the 20-something day, adapted from her novel about star-crossed mercenaries/English scholars! <–so I guess you could say we were scrappy…even if we couldn't convince Hollywood to make it!)

  • http://zoezolbrod.wordpress.com/ zoe zolbrod

    Ha! My age puts me at the very beginning of Gen-X, and I am pretty guilty as charged, at least since I’ve have kids. But… I want to believe! I want to be converted! Just… what about health care for my family? What about being able to pay for some lessons for my kids to take some lessons…. what about….

    • http://anastasiaashman.wordpress.com/ Anastasia

      Great to see you here Zoe!

      It’s true GenY’s youth means a lot less is at risk for them. I’ve been struck by the writing of Jun Loayza when he ponders how to balance idealistic “life design” with caring for his economically-hit parents in “Why I Can’t Do What I’m Passionate About”. He’s also a founding member of Untemplater, so I suppose he intends to find a way.

      Everyone being honest would say it’s not an easy choice, or an easy path, this lifestyle design. But at least you’d be working for something you actually want.

  • http://zoezolbrod.wordpress.com/ zoe zolbrod

    Ha! My age puts me at the very beginning of Gen-X, and I am pretty guilty as charged, at least since I’ve have kids. But… I want to believe! I want to be converted! Just… what about health care for my family? What about being able to pay for some lessons for my kids to take some lessons…. what about….

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      Great to see you here Zoe!

      It’s true GenY’s youth means a lot less is at risk for them. I’ve been struck by the writing of Jun Loayza when he ponders how to balance idealistic “life design” with caring for his economically-hit parents in “Why I Can’t Do What I’m Passionate About”. He’s also a founding member of Untemplater, so I suppose he intends to find a way.

      Everyone being honest would say it’s not an easy choice, or an easy path, this lifestyle design. But at least you’d be working for something you actually want.

  • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

    As another tail-ender of the Baby Boom generation, I’ve never felt part of it. I’ve long understood the need to constantly reinvent myself, whether the results worked out or not. The culturally ingrained Boomer “must have a successful corporate career, buy a big house and most of all, CONSUME!” was tough to reconcile with my innately free-wheeling “let’s see where THIS road leads!!” spirit. Perhaps that’s why the Brazen Careerists, Untemplaters, and Prosperous Writers of today make me giddy with relief. They may be much younger than I in years, but we’re on the same page.

    • http://anastasiaashman.wordpress.com/about/ Anastasia

      Catherine, you may be interested to see this Pew Research Report just released which compares GenY Millennials with GenX, Boomer and the Silent generations. MILLENNIALS: A portrait of generation next. The generation is summed up as “Confident. Connected. Open to change.”

  • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

    As another tail-ender of the Baby Boom generation, I’ve never felt part of it. I’ve long understood the need to constantly reinvent myself, whether the results worked out or not. The culturally ingrained Boomer “must have a successful corporate career, buy a big house and most of all, CONSUME!” was tough to reconcile with my innately free-wheeling “let’s see where THIS road leads!!” spirit. Perhaps that’s why the Brazen Careerists, Untemplaters, and Prosperous Writers of today make me giddy with relief. They may be much younger than I in years, but we’re on the same page.

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      Catherine, you may be interested to see this Pew Research Report just released which compares GenY Millennials with GenX, Boomer and the Silent generations. MILLENNIALS: A portrait of generation next. The generation is summed up as “Confident. Connected. Open to change.”

  • http://notsoliteral.com JR Moreau

    Ah yes, Christina Katz does some good stuff! I’ve been following her for a while. The gig economy is exciting. It’s definitely intimidating to feel like you need to always be hunting (and killing) your workload, but the freedom of that is even greater.

  • http://notsoliteral.com JR Moreau

    Ah yes, Christina Katz does some good stuff! I’ve been following her for a while. The gig economy is exciting. It’s definitely intimidating to feel like you need to always be hunting (and killing) your workload, but the freedom of that is even greater.

  • http://www.wondermentwoman.com Elmira

    I admire Gen Y’s outlook, but I’m not so sure about their attitude. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of responsibility or loyalty. Sheesh, I sound like a geezer. Still, I can see the appeal, and really admire you Anastasia for recognizing it. It’s what makes Expat Harem a great read!

    • http://anastasiaashman.wordpress.com/about/ Anastasia

      Loyalty and responsibility are a difficult sale, Elmira, when the rewards (and security they are supposed to ensure) are nowhere in sight. Recall the recent wave of suicides at France Telecom…when the management’s promises proved empty. Agree job-hopping and expecting to become CEO prematurely are some of the negative hallmarks of the movement. However, Seth Godin’s (born 1960! he’s one of us!) brand-new LINCHPIN concept is about overcoming the lizard brain to access our inner artist and become an indispensable employee…..an entrepreneurial mindset that is good for the organization.

  • http://www.wondermentwoman.com Elmira

    I admire Gen Y’s outlook, but I’m not so sure about their attitude. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of responsibility or loyalty. Sheesh, I sound like a geezer. Still, I can see the appeal, and really admire you Anastasia for recognizing it. It’s what makes Expat Harem a great read!

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      Loyalty and responsibility are a difficult sale, Elmira, when the rewards (and security they are supposed to ensure) are nowhere in sight. Recall the recent wave of suicides at France Telecom…when the management’s promises proved empty. Agree job-hopping and expecting to become CEO prematurely are some of the negative hallmarks of the movement. However, Seth Godin’s (born 1960! he’s one of us!) brand-new LINCHPIN concept is about overcoming the lizard brain to access our inner artist and become an indispensable employee…..an entrepreneurial mindset that is good for the organization.

  • http://anastasiaashman.wordpress.com/about/ Anastasia

    Thanks Judith, Jeanne and JR. Jeanne I think you’re right, when Soultravelers3 departed in 2006 it was still unclear how large a location-independent movement you were part of…and JR, I love how this Brazen Careerist concept is showing up in so many ventures. For instance, veteran (“Get Known Before the Book Deal”) writer Christina Katz’s new newsletter THE PROSPEROUS WRITER, is slanted to what she calls “the gig economy” where authors no longer rely on the skills and resources of others and instead ‘produce’ themselves.

  • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

    Thanks Judith, Jeanne and JR. Jeanne I think you’re right, when Soultravelers3 departed in 2006 it was still unclear how large a location-independent movement you were part of…and JR, I love how this Brazen Careerist concept is showing up in so many ventures. For instance, veteran (“Get Known Before the Book Deal”) writer Christina Katz’s new newsletter THE PROSPEROUS WRITER, is slanted to what she calls “the gig economy” where authors no longer rely on the skills and resources of others and instead ‘produce’ themselves.

  • http://notsoliteral.com JR Moreau

    I’m in Gen Y and I’ve really capitalized on this mindset you speak of (I work for Brazen Careerist). The challenge lots of people are having in my generation is the jaded nature of dealing with bills and economic pressures while still being innovative with branding themselves and figuring out how to improve their standard of living. I’ve lost and gained ground with that mission in the last couple of years. Some are better maintaining balance and perspective than others. We just try to be a resource for inspiration and how-to knowledge at the same time (plus be a fun place to hang out.)

    Don’t forget, we definitely want everyone who’s interested in being brazen about their career to join. You do not have to be in Gen Y!

  • http://notsoliteral.com JR Moreau

    I’m in Gen Y and I’ve really capitalized on this mindset you speak of (I work for Brazen Careerist). The challenge lots of people are having in my generation is the jaded nature of dealing with bills and economic pressures while still being innovative with branding themselves and figuring out how to improve their standard of living. I’ve lost and gained ground with that mission in the last couple of years. Some are better maintaining balance and perspective than others. We just try to be a resource for inspiration and how-to knowledge at the same time (plus be a fun place to hang out.)

    Don’t forget, we definitely want everyone who’s interested in being brazen about their career to join. You do not have to be in Gen Y!

  • http://www.soultravelers3.com/ soultravelers3

    I enjoyed this Anastasia!

    As someone who has always cherished freedom & nonconformity, never succumbed to a cubicle, & voted for “Born to be wild” as our graduating class school song long ago, I can relate to and enjoy “GenY’s brand of 20-something grit” too!

    When we started on our open ended world tour as a family in 2006, we thought it was just a journey, but now it’s clear that because of today’s economy & the tech advances that allows everyone to live, work and school ANY where, it’s actually a new way of being that is growing fast with many variations!

    It will be interesting to see where this leads by the end of the decade and beyond.

  • http://www.soultravelers3.com/ soultravelers3

    I enjoyed this Anastasia!

    As someone who has always cherished freedom & nonconformity, never succumbed to a cubicle, & voted for “Born to be wild” as our graduating class school song long ago, I can relate to and enjoy “GenY’s brand of 20-something grit” too!

    When we started on our open ended world tour as a family in 2006, we thought it was just a journey, but now it’s clear that because of today’s economy & the tech advances that allows everyone to live, work and school ANY where, it’s actually a new way of being that is growing fast with many variations!

    It will be interesting to see where this leads by the end of the decade and beyond.

  • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

    Great vibrant post Anastasia, how well put. If at the tail end of the Baby Boom Generation, it’s a red hot plume, able to leave a permanent mark.

  • Anonymous

    Great vibrant post Anastasia, how well put. If at the tail end of the Baby Boom Generation, it’s a red hot plume, able to leave a permanent mark.

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