Taylor Cotter, the author of this gem, is hurt and surprised by the amount of vitriol the Internet has now dumped on her. I’ve got no desire to join in a public pile-on at a time when someone is already upset by the negative attention, but I did feel serious secondhand embarrassment upon reading her lament that life is just not “adventurous” enough now that she has a full-time job, a car and a 401k – and all at the age of 22. I think it’s perfectly normal to bitch and moan about a general lack of adventure – even I do it sometimes – and it’s not that I find Cotter to be “ungrateful.” I don’t think she’s a bad person, she just wrote an unfortunate post that managed to combine just the right amount of popular misconceptions about the age we’re living in that felt like a slap in the face for a lot of people who are genuinely struggling – in the U.S. and beyond.
First of all, equating financial stability with adulthood is ridiculous in this day and age. There are plenty of people who are decades older than we are, who’ve lost their savings and/or their homes. Some have had spells of living out of their cars and “bathing” in rest area bathrooms. For some, those spells have become day-to-day reality. This isn’t happening because those people are immature and silly and spent too much time playing Xbox.
Second of all, we don’t choose financial stability – most of the time, it chooses us. I think it’s healthy to pat yourself on the back every once in a while, but guess what? Being able to do internships that translate into a well-paying job out of college is a mark of privilege for most people, as most internships tend to be unpaid. That’s just one example of how kids from poorer families tend to get screwed even before they enter the job market. I think it’s fine to say that “Hey, I worked my ass off to get where I’m at right now.” But not acknowledging the element of luck – and luck is a capricious thing, darlings – just perpetuates the same damn stereotype of some people being “good enough” to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and others “not good enough.”
Also, there’s nothing romantic or adventurous about financial instability – or downright poverty. Hey, I got a little adventure for ya – how about losing teeth in your 20’s due to lack of access to preventative care? Sexy, huh? How about people who pile on the pounds because they have no time or energy or money to be able to eat a balanced diet? Can you still be Carrie Bradshaw if the Dior don’t fit? That’s not the worst of it, really, some people, for example, blow their brains out when faced with a mountain of debt, unpaid medical bills and layoffs. I’m sure that those closed-casket funerals are awesome, character-building experiences for their friends and relatives to attend.
And what’s up with this ridiculous notion that adventures are easy? I live a life of intrigue and danger – mostly not by choice, I might add – and let me tell you, I shed copious amounts of sweat and tears (and blood too – like the time I cut myself while trying to eat at a movie festival, because I flew in after spending most of the night up with a fussy baby, was tired as balls, and had no one to hold my steak knife for me.). Just because something makes for a good story doesn’t make it a good experience. An adventure is not a shampoo commercial – though that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth having. It’s just also worth having it in perspective.
And while we’re at it, can we please recall that Carrie Bradshaw is a fictional fucking character? And while fairly admirable as far as fictional fucking characters go – nobody could afford those clothes on an average journalist’s salary.
I’m just sayin.
4 thoughts on “Notes to the wannabe Carrie Bradshaws – from the raggedy edge”
I’m only half way through reading it and already I feel sorry for her. Mainly because like her I to thought that at 22 I was an adult and this meant the decisions and choices I’d made were set in stone and that was that….here I am at 39 just discovering what I really want to do with my life and also that there’s plenty of life left to be lived! Far from criticizing her, I’d just like to give her a hug and recommend she buy herself a backpack and bugger off on a gap year! 🙂
I have a lot of sympathy for her as well. And if you’re trying to pay down your loans, a gap year is not possible. 😦
Yeah, that’s a good point RE: loans. I graduated just before tuition fees came in here and it’s one of the reasons I didn’t go back to complete my BA. All the people I know who got loans have just deliberately put themselves in a position where they can’t afford to pay it back until the debt dies.
I guess what I was really emphasising on is the fact that there’s more life a head of her than it may seem at the moment.
In the U.S., such debts never die. That’s why people kill themselves over them – or go abroad.