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November 21, 2009

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Christine

As you stated, I think that career decisions can be very family and location centered. I spent my young adulthood in the DC area. And I come from a family in which most of the men, and quite a few women have served in the military.

While there are other ways to serve, they are not always obvious, or the most easy to embrace. By this I mean that while the military is an obvious step for an 18 year old, they might never have thought of the peace corps, study abroad, or doing volunteer work to help them find a sense of purpose and place.

I encourage my 18 year old stepson to join the military medical corps. But I also encourage him to study abroad, go on a volunteer mission, and volunteer his time locally. None of those things have stuck. And in the end, I just sincerely hope he will choose a path that will help him to grow up and have the clear direction that his young life, as a person whose parents separated when he was very young, has lacked. What direction that is I consider entirely up to him, so long as it is legal and moral.

When I was 18, I envied students like yours who had made their choice. I had not made mine. I floundered. I was confused. And though your students may change their minds and the direction of their lives in the future, I'm glad for them that they have a plan.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Christine, I understand what you're saying, but I still think that some confusion is better--for a teen--than an absolute. When else are they going to explore their own possibilities and interests if not in college or those early out of high school years? Me, I changed majors, countries and career expectations.

morethananelectrician

Let's look at it from a young adult's perspective...

For a young mail, there are three basic choices after school.

1. Work.
2. School.
3. Military.

School (2.) seems like the obvious choice, but the prospect of going into massive debt with aid or parental intervention is difficult.

There could be a combination of (1.) or (2.) but this essentially leaves a young adult still at home.

The vehicle for a young adult to "get away" from home and start their own life is hard to do with the prospect of out of state tuition costs...which leaves the military as an easy option and transition. Not all soldiers, sailors and airmen work in a foxhole or in a tank.

Nothing is ever simple, huh?

JC

Laura, your post immediately brought to mind my mother telling me when I was young that her father, my grandfather, taught her these words: "Question Authority." I was probably 10 or 11 at the time. It took me a while to get it. Those two words have stayed with me throughout my life. Those in power do not like to be questioned but it is our right as citizens to do so. This gets lost too often.

The economy is bad right now. I know one girl who's away at college that is going to have to come back home after one semester at the state university because she hasn't been able to find a job to pay her living expenses. It's a real problem and, unfortunately, young people may see the military as their only or best option.

If my son wanted to enlist in the military of his own accord, I wouldn't be able to stop him, but we will do whatever we have to to send him to college.

April

Isn't there AmeriCorps now as another avenue?
As other commenters have stated, I think our economy might have a lot to do with it. The military is desperate for people, and yet there are people with all the degrees who can't get a job.
I definitely hear you and agree with you, but I also remember being that young and not knowing all the choices out there. I believe that many of them will end up as we are now. They just have to go through the process, too. Maddening? Absolutely. But evolution just doesn't work fast enough!

Ricardo

This is a wonderful and thought provoking post by the way. I have to get that in there.

Anyway, there is no premium or value placed on thinking for yourself and being an individual. People are taught at an early age to assimilate and conform which in some respects is fine but not in every facet of life.

If these 2 kids are getting married then these counter cultural symbols are nothing more than costumes. They get the marketing but they don't get the concept. Do you really think these two will be happy in say....5 years? I doubt it. She will be pregnant and miserable and he'll have is own issues if he gets sent to war. They will get divorced. I have seen it myself. Everyone else can see it coming too except for them.

I read a very good article once about how some officers in the military could clearly see that there was too much of an influx of kids who just were not cut out for the job and getting damaged by the system. There are people withing the military that do care but there were no clear answers on how to fix the issue. And now that we are at war, they military must keep their numbers strong.

I guess the perception of the military is different according to the region you are in. You are correct, up north in NYC and even where I am, people just don't consider the military an option but rather a last resort for people in trouble and need to find the right path.

Such a difficult problem since I have the utmost respect for those who do serve but there are so many issues mixed in with all that. I could go on forever but don't want to monopolize your blog. :-)

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

MTAE, I just thought I'd tell you that your comment was used in a conversation that I had with someone about this post. No, nothing is ever simple, except my desires--that the system could be reworked and that there was a way for young males and females to get away in a fulfilling way that didn't involve the military--in a foxhole or just making those in the foxhole able to be there.

JC, I can see the trend increasing with the stories coming out about how tuition costs are rising and how people without college degrees have the highest rates of unemployment. Sure, the military is a safety net, I just wish we had another effective one.

April, I'm not sure how widespread or available Americorps is. It would be lovely if they could figure out who they are without potentially putting themselves in harm's way.

Ricardo, thanks for the compliment--it's much appreciated--and your monopolizing the blog with your thoughts.

Their engagement seems like a way to hold onto their childhood, thinking that this will keep somethings as they are and not to be buffeted by too many changes. I hope they make it past the odds, or at least don't become bitter.

Numbers. That's the--a--problem, I guess. Young, confused kids are numbers that enable US to continue fighting wars that show we have not evolved.

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