Friday, February 11, 2011

Change Junkies and the generation thereof

The weight of the future looms as a thunderhead on the horizon. It carries with it the smell of change, adaptation, and, most unsettling of all, uncertainty. I pass the days, progressing toward but never quite reaching that vaporous tomorrow. And the wake of spent days that stretches out behind me serves only as a contrast to the unknown that is held by the coming minutes, days and hours.

I have observed a prominent characteristic among those of my generation - specifically those in their twenties: a desperate longing for change. Personally, I find it very difficult to be content with the routine, with day-to-day living in a post-college life. I crave something new, whether it be a new experience or a new face or a new location. The unknown holds so much mystery, and to a degree, excitement. But when, especially after college, fresh graduates settle into the "real world," it can be a very disheartening discovery to realize that the nine-to-five grind is the culmination of their youthful hopes and dreams. And so, in attempt to artificially stimulate some sort of new experience, these people rush around recklessly spending money, diving into relationships, or hopping from job to job. I see this behavior in those among whom I associate, but most prominently in myself. And it baffles me to see my parents or my friends' parents who have worked a single job for years or lived in the same town for years. Honestly, it scares me to think that my life may not be a rollercoaster of new experiences. Not that there is anything shameful or wrong with being steadfast and consistent in life. I believe it is both an honorable and noble characteristic. Nonetheless, it's hard for me to get my head around.

From what source does this addiction to change spring? Fingers can be pointed in many different directions, but for sake of space, let me address one that only recently came to my attention. College. Perhaps the most dynamic and volatile environment most people will ever experience, and one to which those with even a limited amount of experience can relate. From the very first day, a prospective student will arrive on campus, surrounded by a completely new environment peopled by an ocean of others who are sharing the same experience, and for the most part, the same age. Each hour a student's day changes with each new class he or she attends, with the magical prospect of the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter breaks, followed by a brand new semester with new faces and new classes and new challenges followed by spring break and summer break. And that cycle of changes continues for years until the conditioned student stumbles outside the collegiate gates, degree in hand, only to realize suddenly that the world changes much more slowly in real life. You don't get to change your office location every hour. You don't get to enjoy new set of challenges with new bosses and new co-workers every hour. Very few jobs allow as much vacation as school conditioned you to expect. And very few jobs have the same social pool as you probably had in school.

Transitioning into post-college life can be difficult. Rearranging one's mindset from 17 years of social overdrive is often very disillusioning. Even two years out of college, I still struggle with boring nights at home and quiet weekends with the same three or four faces. But who knows what the future holds? Who knows what surprise might be lurking in the minutes not yet passed? The hope of change, the mystery of what might be must become the focus. Otherwise, what may be the doldrums of now will pass far less pleasantly.


  1. Nic,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts; thanks for sharing. I found this post to be especially poignant to me as I have struggled with coming down from the high that was college and settling into this adult life. You put into words so many of the feelings and thoughts with which I have wrestled since graduating.

    I was disappointed in your conclusion, I must confess. In the final two lines you state that that the hope of change must become one’s focus or one will suffer the bitter disappointment of a life lived in the present. Nic, this present moment is all we have; the one that came before is gone, the one that may follow isn’t promised. “You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.” (James 4.14)
    I understand that the romance of being an adult isn’t nearly as glamorous as we once believed it would be and I feel as you described the restlessness and anticipation. Nevertheless, we must rest content in this moment, making the most of the right now. If tomorrow comes, praise God. But it may not. If it doesn’t will you be proud of how you spent this precious time, or this you only taste the bitter disappointment of a tomorrow left unfulfilled?

  2. " these people rush around recklessly spending money, diving into relationships, or hopping from job to job."

    Of whom do you speak, good sir? I have known none of these things to be true for a corpse (the idiom "working stiff" should be fully pondered).

    "For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favours,
    Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood;
    A violet in the youth of primy nature,
    Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
    The perfume and suppliance of a minute —
    No more."