Dublin: 6 °C Friday 23 February, 2024
dear fifi

Dear Fifi: Is my generation doomed to be miserable?

When I say “Dear” you say “Fifi”.


This week, I’m answering two questions that dovetail, similar to how I grouped together questions related to getting over an ex.

I’ve been doing this for a long enough time now that some questions come up a few times, if not more. With that in mind, I replied to several people’s queries over on Curious Cat with a link to where I’ve covered that topic before, in the hopes that the same advice might help. You can check it out and ask me a question here.


I find our generation (under 35′s) are either miserable in relationships (exceptions of course) or incredibly lonely. Are we all doomed? Is it social media to blame or socioeconomics? Or both?


How do you deal with ageing in this horrible world? Everyone I know in Dublin is still sharing accommodation well into their 20′s and 30′s. Every person needs to pursue their own career and in doing so we all seem to be increasingly selfish (possibly justified) with our own time.

How can relationships even form anymore? People work good jobs and have no hope of saving a deposit, never mind affording children. How will we cope as time passes quicker and quicker? We’re like a lost generation. I don’t think I want children, but how much of that is being decided for me?

I worry about our current mental health as well as what is to come. The pints and socialising are drying up (possibly sensibly) as a means of escape. Will we all just be sitting on the bus in our 40′s wondering what the hell happened? Is there any hope? Should we just get a pet and eat nice cake? 

Short answer? No. This generation is not doomed to be miserable, or lonely, or avocado-overstuffed and internship-underpaid, or anything else catastrophic and gloomy for that matter.

I think you’re both worried because you have had to confront the possibility of ageing – and ageing never looks exactly like how we thought it would, for any of us. Funnily enough, ageing has come up a lot for me in my personal life lately. Perhaps that’s just confirmation bias, though – I suppose we all actually think about ageing a lot, and we just attribute it to our specific life stage, rather than accepting it as a universal and pervasive preoccupation directly caused by the state of ‘being alive’.

Human beings are essentially self-obsessed. We all think we live in the end times and every time we’ve been wrong. Apocalypse has always been right around the corner, as far as history books go back. We all think we’re special enough that we’re living through the time when the world finally does cave in. Look: we probably aren’t. That’s a comforting thought.

There’s a huge degree of liberation in accepting that our particular anxiety about the world is not unique – because it acknowledges that what we’re experiencing is basically human. It’s shared, connected and not our fault, not something we should allow ourselves to worry about too much.

The road map for our generation doesn’t look exactly like our parents expected it to, which is a weird transition – but that’s not unique to our time in history either. Plus, there are plenty of positive elements of our generation that are beyond what our parents or grandparents could have possibly dreamt about in many ways. Renting replacing mortgages, birth rates slowing, career transitions and shifts, getting dealt a shit hand economically… All that stuff that seems overwhelming but impossible to change? Don’t become consumed by these patterns. Focus on yourself and what makes you happy. That’s really all you can do.

Don’t fall victim to the temptation of inertia brought on by this anxiety: the fallacy that there’s no point doing anything at all because the larger situation is fucked. That gets you nowhere. It’s not wise to sit at home worrying about the heat death of our planet either, I’m afraid, because you must only try to worry about what’s right in front of you. Grip what’s in your control to change and let the rest go. And doing is always, always a lot better than worrying.

Chunk up life, look at it as a day’s project with another day after that, and trust that the overall shape of your life will take care of itself. Live in the present and don’t let hypothetical futures become an albatross of worry around your neck. Whatever happens, it will happen. Focusing on the here and now will provide more joy. Worry is essentially an empty pursuit that forces more worry on us.

Stop worrying about what you can’t change and start focusing firmly on what you can.

(If you’re looking for a truly scary thought? The stuff that you’ve itemised on your My Generation’s List of Things To Worry About is probably the least of it. It’s everything else that’ll blindside us that’ll most likely be worse. And you can’t be worrying about that so don’t even try.)

Go with the flow. Fuck it. It’ll be grand. It always has been before, right?


 Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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