Young people aren’t supposed to be the jaded ones, yet more and more, it feels like gallows humor is the only tool I have to face the day.
This summer we’ve seen the biggest mass shooting in American history, and repeated examples of black men getting killed by the police, on camera. But our society’s reaction to these events is what truly haunts me. To be young and growing up in the 21st century is a constant exercise in aching.
We go to schools that cost more to get jobs that pay less to live in a housing market that borders on class warfare.
I grew up in Washington DC. I bought into the beltway groupthink that government is a force for good, and elected officials are fighting to make actual change in the world.
But by the end of my first semester of college, the banks had been bailed out. Trayvon had been murdered. And 26 kids and teachers got mowed down at Sandy Hook.
And what changed? Well, not much. Our mass shootings are more frequent and more deadly, black people continue to be killed by police, having their lives reduced to little more than a hashtag on social media, while the architects of the great recession got off scot-free.
I want to be part of the change. That earnest part of me from childhood still exists. But the hope so many of my generation felt when Barack Obama campaigned for president — it honestly doesn’t even seem real or possible anymore.
I’m at an age when I’m supposed to find myself. Choose a major. Build towards a career where I can see myself for years to come. However, at college I’ve cycled through majors like Instagram filters. Because when the world resembles a dystopia out of Philip K. Dick, how is someone my age supposed to figure out where I belong in all of this?
With a Perspective, I’m Andrew Meyer.
Andrew Meyer is 22-years-old and attends Sarah Lawrence College. His commentary was produced by Youth Radio.