What the eff is a twixter? It sounds like a candy bar, or someone who is betwixt something, but what?
In 2005, the term twixter was publicized by Lev Grossman in a TIME Magazine article entitled Twixter Generation: Young Adults Who Won't Grow Up. The article, clearly written before the financial collapse, highlighted the ultimate failure of today's 20somethings and our inability to achieve success like our parents did when they were our age. I am fascinated by such sociological and economic studies, like the more recent What Is It About 20-Somethings? in the New York Times, so I decided to ponder over some key direct quotes from Grossman's article.
ARTICLE: Parents were baffled when their expensively educated, otherwise well-adjusted 23-year-old children wound up sobbing in their old bedrooms, paralyzed by indecision.
ERIN: OMG, I know, right? What is it with me locking myself up in my bedroom, trying not to cry every day? And by that I mean "trying to make smart, career-related decisions in Toronto and abroad". Oh, thank you for the university education. The experience was invaluable, but there's this guy named "College" who keeps kicking University out of the spotlight, trying to make him feel less important than he actually is.
ARTICLE: Is it that they don't want to grow up, or is it that the rest of society won't let them?
ERIN: Society is hesitant about letting me grow up. At most places I've interned, there is absolutely nobody under the age of 25 who is a full-time, permanent worker. I am only 23; it sounds old but people keep telling me it's not. I guess you don't have to work your dream job at the beginning of your career, but later you'll see this article refers to ideal careers as "callings" or "expressions of identity" for young people. Relevant unpaid career experience is cool at first, but you can't do it forever. Well, I should at least work somewhere because if I don't, I will turn into an anti-social hermit or a 15 year old again.
ARTICLE: In fact, the average college student takes five years to finish. The era of the four-year college degree is all but over.
ERIN: This is true for me. I went into university with an illness allowing me only to study less than the full-time course load. I knew that it would take me five years to complete my degree. To be considered full-time and receiving student benefits in my fifth year, I had extra room for classes such as "Design for Non-Majors" and "How to Fail at Speaking Spanish". I also became manically depressed because I didn't understand why I was in school taking electives with naive first year students
I had my first real job interview one month before graduation for a social media position. I didn't get it because I didn't have "experience". Who has experience in social media when it just came out last year? I just learned some shit I pretended to care about for 5 years straight, you think I'm not going to be able to learn what SEO stands for? I sometimes secretly think that people do not want to work with young people who are smart and know what they want. I feel that we are not given a chance to be paid a decent wage, acquire benefits and vacation, and more importantly, to prove ourselves. That is something we have to work up to. We'll get it by the time we're 28.
ARTICLE: ...most colleges are seriously out of step with the real world in getting students ready to become workers in the post-college world.
ERIN: Uh-huh. Though my university's career centre is fairly legit, they do not provide specialized advice on say, how to write a pitch to an editor, or how to tailor your resume to be a graphic designer. They love to host career panels where it is awkward to keep in touch with these "professionals" in our field after begging for business cards. Other than that, they are pretty good at providing career counseling to people in pre-mid and mid-life crises and workshops. Yay!
ARTICLE: "My problem is I'm really overstimulated by everything," Galantha says. "I feel there's too much information out there at all times. There are too many doors, too many people, too much competition."
ERIN: Yeah...the internet...
ARTICLE: "[Twixters] are not just looking for a job," Arnett says. "They want something that's more like a calling, that's going to be an expression of their identity."
ERIN: Am I spoiled because I really don't want to be stuck in retail or an irrelevant office job for several months at a time, or worse, forever? Sorry for being so straight forward in what I want. Do I even know what I want? Shit, wait I don't...
ARTICLE: ...it's not that twixters don't want to become adults. They just can't afford to.
ERIN: If I hadn't spent my life savings on living in Copenhagen and Ho Chi Minh City, this would be different. Or would it? No Regrets. Different priorities. Let's move on.
ARTICLE: Some twixters may want to grow up, but corporations and advertisers have a real stake in keeping them in a tractable, exploitable, pre-adult state — living at home, spending their money on toys.
ERIN: Coming from someone who has seriously considered working in the fashion industry, I relate to this. I personally feel that 20somethings are expected to be stylish, image-conscious and cutting edge, especially in creative industries where nobody makes money for the first 5-10 years of their career anyway. This image extends outside of fashion, and includes tech gadgets, creative supplies/equipment, going out, getting drunk/high, and living somewhere that isn't a shithole with 7 other people. The emphasis is on spending, which kinda is a bad thing when we don't have real money to spend. Do we listen to advertising anymore, or are we being branded without realizing it?
ARTICLE: "We as a society deem an individual at the age of 18 ready for adult responsibility," Baird points out. "Yet recent evidence suggests that our neuropsychological development is many years from being complete. There's no reason to think 18 is a magic number."
ERIN: To my parental units - next time you think about kicking out your underemployed, privileged and educated daughter, think again. Legally, I am an adult, a less-than-qualified individual who feels pressured to be this Dream Adult From the Past with excess savings, a nice place, a partner I will marry, a car, and a job with benefits. I'm totally down with growing up and moving out, I swear. It hasn't even been a year since I graduated.
The point of all this is not to complain or to feel special. These days, risks seem difficult to take. Money is harder to find. In 2005, money was less difficult to find and we were facing the same problem. What happens to those "in between"? Are we going to continue to be shafted at the expense of others; are we going to wait for our government to draft a special policy for our needs? Are programs in need to bandage our failing system that is putting young people further behind the success line? Do we need prospective employers to give us a chance, even if they think we suck? Do we need legal action in place to make all internships paid from now on? We are no longer slackers afraid of becoming like our parents; we are eager to become adults, over-prepared to settle into that dreamy career we went to school for. What happens next?
At least now I have something to label myself.