30 is the new…what?

Meg Jay says 30 is not the new 20

I listened to this podcast while at work, crunching through e-mails and writing new client messaging. Jay’s voice floated through my earphones and froze my fingers poised over the keyboard. 30 is not the new 20, she said. And according to her, it’s time we stop acting like it. 

Millennials, born from 1981 to 1997, appear to have all the time in the world. We’re casually dating through unanswered texts, missed connections and fears of being single the rest of our lives. Apparently, we’re also marrying later although my Facebook feed of engagement rings and wedding photos say otherwise. We’re at jobs we like well enough, that pay well enough, while holding out hope that our rose-colored careers will eventually appear. At the age of 23, 27 and 30, we’re kicking the metaphorical can down the road in the (false) belief that the road is endless. 

We coin excuses. When asked why we don’t leave our jobs or leave our jobs too often, when we’ll go to school or graduate, when we’ll get married, buy a house, have a child, settle down, the answers are:

Next year. When I’m 30. When I’m older. When I’ve saved. When I find the perfect person. When I’m 35.

I wonder about my generation. I wonder if I’m part of the statistic or an outlier at the end of the bell curve. In some ways, I think Millennials are caught with this gnawing question: Is there something better? 

We’re the generation of increased opportunity and decreased satisfaction. There are so many people who we could choose as our marriage partner, companies who could pay more or treat us better, places with a higher quality of life, weather and quantity of Whole Foods. I fear we will become the generation of the Fisherman’s Wife. 

Blue Ridge Labs, now a program of Robin Hood, has a unique fellowship program where intelligent, tech-savvy individuals collaborate together to help solve poverty-induced problems in New York City. I went to the final presentation for this year’s participants and was blown away by the creativity, focus and drive of people not much older than myself. Millennials. Their apps include lending circles for college students, tenant surveys to combat absent landlords, and a website to quickly text all group participants in a surrounding area. For these fellowship-ers, their “30 is the new 40” mentality is anything but their peers’ ennui.

So there’s hope. And perhaps the way the rest of us can get out of our “30 is the new 20” slump, is to stop thinking exclusively about our own happiness and start asking how we can make a positive difference in the world. Right now. 

Group Rocks

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Beginning of the End

Take down the 2011 calendar. Rip out notes from last semester’s notebooks. Spend $200 on new books from Amazon. That’s right folks– it’s time for another semester. The beginning of the end.

My “seniority” is reflected as I recount my academic stories to new freshmen tour guides. It stares at me during a discussion of the senior piece for the Dance Company’s spring concert. And each time I write the date and year, I am reminded that my peers and I represent the Class of 2012. When did I become a senior in college? It’s a question I imagine most of my classmates are asking themselves tonight, just a day before their last first day of class. The seniors seemed important four years ago. And somehow taller. They had infinite wisdom about the college environment, social norms and ways to reach the best job opportunities. Yet here I am on the verge of graduation just as confused as ever.

The Bucknell Magazine published a small article about me in the Winter 2012 edition that was stuffed into my campus mailbox this morning. I had almost forgotten about my brief interview and photo shoot last semester, posing awkwardly on various parts of campus which included the quiet section of the library. Students got a nice little study break while they watched me attempt a variety of smiles from my position on the large orange sofa. Go back to work, folks. Nothing to see here. 

Bucknell Magazine — Winter 2012

’Ray Bucknell, p.15

STUDENT PROFILE: KATELYN TSUKADA ’12

“Layovers don’t count,” says Katelyn Tsukada ’12, who notes that her father has been
to more than 50 countries, and she would like to match that number.
Tsukada, a tour guide and the outreach coordinator for the Bucknell Dance
Company, started a blog last spring to chart the beginning of her travels and to keep in
touch with family and friends when she entered the sustainability program at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Denmark.

Along with travel, environmental studies have remained important to Tsukada,
who received funding from the Bucknell Public Interest Program (BPIP) for internships
to focus on environmental law and policy for two consecutive summers. In Washington,
D.C., she conducted research at an independent think-tank, the Environmental Law
Institute. Last summer, at the Law of Nature Foundation in the Philippines, she examined
environmental law and advocacy, while focusing on decreasing fossil fuel and on marine
protected areas for the coral reefs. Tsukada is planning the first environmental conference
in the spring at the Bucknell Environmental Center. Her goal is to invite six to eight
different schools to talk about their campus initiatives with the hope of taking away new
ideas.

“Travel is all around us,” Tsukada says, as she notes how her travel blog has
evolved from new cities and food to parallels between culture and environmental
practices and to more recent adventures, for example, with the LSAT and with
vegetarianism. Recently, Tsukada read that Japan is offering 10,000 free airline tickets to
boost the tourism. The stipulation is that you have to have a blog. “My new goal with my
blog is to win a ticket. It’s a dream, but it would be perfect to travel and learn more about
Japanese culture and what it means to be Japanese-American,” says Tsukada.

— Kelly Anzulavich

New Years Eve

New Year’s Eve. The time to celebrate the old and welcome the new. Major cities around the globe boast extravagant parties, open bar, buffet, fireworks, and champagne toasts at the magical moment when the last grain of sand slips through the hourglass of 2011. We pop the bubbly and clink glasses to new memories and old friends. There are toasts and laughter and kissing once the  countdown begins– a flurry of celebration and a nighttime of magic. 

Personally, I have not experienced one of these New Year’s Eves. Each year I search for a cheap, super chic party in a major city so I may laugh gayly while sipping some fruity mixed drink and wearing at least one sequined article of clothing. When this search proves less than fruitful I turn to creating my resolution list, mixing inevitable events with vague references to verbs followed by the word “more.” 

My 2012 New Year’s Resolutions:

-Get one year older

-Graduate college

-Exercise more

-Cook more

-Blog on a regular schedule…more

And by 11:59pm on December 31st, I stop scrambling for last-minute plans, down an extra glass of champagne, and contemplate my reasons for failing yet another new year’s celebration. Frankly, I’m New Year Eved out. 

So what is the hype? Even before When Harry Met Sally and Billy Crystal professed his love to Meg Ryan amidst the cheering crowd and soft melody of Auld Lang Syne, we have been fascinated with New Years. The new year is full of the hopeful promise that forgotten friends will be reunited and current struggles will soon become distant memories. It is a night of secular confession, silently acknowledging last year’s mistakes and becoming absolved as soon as the digital clocks blinks 12:00 (or 24:00 depending on location and military time preference). We are Cinderella but instead of the night ending at the stroke of midnight, our magical evening has just begun. Anything is possible.

For me, anything includes the feeling of fulfillment at the birth of this new calendar year. Maybe there is no ideal template for wish-making, hand-holding and speech-giving at the start of 2012. After all, January 1 is just another day to reassert one’s self as an individual trying to understand his or her place in the world. But one thing is for sure. I’m adding a new resolution to my list:

Plan early.

Sparkling Champaign Cupcakes

Happy New Year.