May 21, 2013, 09:09AM

Lucky To Be Weird

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It must be terrible to be a Millennial with traditional values and goals. Honestly, I can only speculate. I'm fortunate because I have no use for tradition; I chart my own course. Recently, I proposed to my fiancé without a diamond (she said yes). As someone who despises diamonds for political, aesthetic and personal reasons, she would have been furious if I'd tried to put one on her. This worked out. We can't possibly afford diamonds, and are hesitant to take on more debt. We also share a hatred of traditional weddings, and avoiding one is a major money-saver.

But undoubtedly the best thing about our values, in light of the economy, is our intention never to have children. I've lived with my fiancé for five years, and we've been very clear with one another about this conviction from the start. Our reasons are numerous—and personal—but they aren't the result of the terrible economy (though it does serve to strengthen our resolve). Even if we were coming up in the relative glitz and glamour of the late 1990s, I doubt we'd be looking to start a family.

But we're the exception, not the rule. And while I consider myself extremely lucky to be the kind of person who finds purpose and meaning in the quest to learn new skills and develop new insights—and to share that trait with my fiancé—I recognize I'm in the minority.

I can't help but feel that there's something deeply wrong here; compared to a lot of my peers, I'm doing well. I didn't take on too much debt for college, and I'm making pretty good money. My degree is practically worthless, and I struggle to get enough hours at work, but I still consider myself fortunate. It's just that, in 2013, "fortunate" is defined mainly by the problems I don't face. I'm not crippled by post-graduate debt; I haven't experienced long-term unemployment or been forced to move home; the ease and stupidity of my job lets me pursue personal endeavors that provide my life with purpose and meaning; I don't have children that I didn't want and can ill-afford.

I just find myself worrying about my generational cohorts that might want the expensive wedding and 2.5 kids, and instead are left considering shotgun weddings and ring tattoos at a seedy parlor. For the lucky among us, that's a magical, happy occasion.

For the rest, it's just one more reminder that we're a bunch of spoiled brats, entitled narcissists who have the gall to expect the kind of frenzied, excessive consumption our parents' generation so conspicuously enjoyed.


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