Millennials Throw in the Towel

The traditional concept of employment is the latest thing that the ever-contrarian millennial generation is reinventing. They’re quitting their jobs, without worrying about what they’ll do next. According to a 2018 Millennial Survey by Deloitte, 43 percent of millennials expect to leave their job within two years.

Reader Antonia sends me an article from the New York Post that describing the decisions of young people who have given up their stressful, lucrative jobs in favour of travel and generally idle loveliness.

“Nothing was wrong with the job – it was a great company, good money, six figures. I was 26 and I said, ‘Why am I going to spend my 20s sitting at a desk?'” says Mason, now 29. “We’re waiting for retirement at 67, and they keep bumping it up — who knows what age it will be for me — 70s? I thought it was foolish not to [leave].”

There’s lots of the usual inspiring material about how their good but stressful and sedentary jobs were getting them down before they decided to downsize, quit, sell up and travel. But there’s also some useful-to-read reality checks about the anxiety that can come when you quit with no plan in mind.

“I was at the point of, like, stay and wish I was dead — or leave and be full of anxiety. But at least have some sort of hope that change was a-brewing,” says Jessica.

As you know, I believe you can quit with scant planning if you’re willing to throw caution to the wind and you want an adventure, but it certainly helps to build an escape fund first and make yourself re-employable should you ever need to come back to the grind.

The article is refreshingly full of young Escapologist types and it’s worth a read if you’re having a bad time at an office desk somewhere and need a little push.

“The future is unknown and sometimes that feels scary in the West,” she muses. But “life is so short, and the world is so big … living an alternative life is possible — our narrow version of success is just that: narrow.”

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Almost Nearly Perfect

Since my last post, a few people have recommended The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth as a more even-handed, less Evangelical insight into Danish life.

I’m enjoying the book very much (Booth’s writing style in particular) and I recommend it to anyone else who happens to be belatedly obsessed with the chilled-out, asethetically superior Scandinavian lifestyle. Strangely though, the evidence of downsides to Scandie living is not entirely persuasive. When a fact emerges about how things aren’t as peachy as a visitor might think, I’m left thinking, “well, it’s still better than here and certainly better than America.”

The biggest thing people have pointed out to me is that non-workers in Denmark are somewhat socially shunned as freeloaders, which is hardly compatible with our Escapological ideals, but the fact remains that as a nation they don’t actually work a whole lot. If one has a job, it is swiss-cheese porous with holidays and early finishes and workplace socials. The work-life balance seems to be in check. If work was pleasant and undemanding, one might not want to escape it so badly. And if one still wants out and is afraid of ostracisation, you could just tell everyone that you’re self-employed.

I am yet to find the “dark energy source” I mused about in that last post (unless of course it’s all the pork consumption) and while there are certainly downsides to living Danishly, my general positive impression of Copenhagen as an egalitarian, relatively classless, cosmopolitan society remains intact. I do, of course, treat that positive impression with a pinch of salt. As Booth puts it:

I can see, though, why foreign visitors might think Denmark is classless, particularly if their impressions are gathered from a long weekend in Copenhagen or a few episodes of Borgen, but travel more widely in the country, or spend some time learning the signifiers of Denmark’s social classes, and the strata become all too clear.

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