What can I say about the Millennial Generation that hasn’t already been said? We grew up with every opportunity and then were spit out into a world of few. We were raised on the 1990’s Wonder Bread Diet that promised us we could have everything we want.
Most of us watched uncomprehendingly as the Twin Towers came down from a high school or middle school classroom. Our stories start the same way: Ms. Crockett’s 3rd period; A.P. U.S. History; an announcement over the loudspeakers; the classroom T.V. flipped on. I was in French class. I had never heard the term, “Twin Towers,” but I was wearing a t-shirt of a style in vogue among pre-teens during that time: on its front was an airbrushed rendering of the New York City skyline.
You see, back then, more than anything, I wanted to be an actress in New York City. I imagined myself alighting from the privileged homogeneity of the Atlanta suburbs, flying through some prestigious North Eastern college, and settling in New York City where I would make a life on the stage until I was ready to come home.
And it started to happen that way. Upon graduation, I accepted admission into Boston College while my parents, reacting again to the demands of corporate America, packed up another home and moved here, to Saratoga Springs.
Fast forward four years ( it really did happen that fast) and before I even had my degree in hand, I landed a job in academic publishing. My parents, surprised and relieved that I seemed to be eschewing the bohemian lifestyle of which I’d always dreamed, applauded me for my foresight and maturity. They were deceived. The job was a means for me to stay in Boston with my wildly attractive boyfriend who fulfilled all of my thus far unfulfilled aspirations of popularity and acceptance.
As you may have already guessed, the relationship ended with the summer.
I turned to the cold comfort of my friends’ Facebook pages. It seemed like everyone had moved to New York City to pursue a life on stage. Before I could get comfortable with the idea that I had “sold out” and would never live that childhood dream, I met some one new. I met some one who reminded me of innocence and possibility. And, all of a sudden, I realized that I was only twenty-three and that it was far too early to let the weight of regret bear down on me.
And so, in the darkest hour of the recession, I quit my full-time job with health benefits and relocated to the Big City where I began to cobble together an income as an assistant to a Hedge Fund CEO who suffered from a lack of people skills; as a freelance copywriter; and, to my naive wanna-be bohemian delight, as a waitress.
The problem with Facebook, of course, is that everyone looks like they’re having fun. Few people will take a photo of their 4X6 apartment or make an announcement about their dwindling financial state or admit that the play they’re in is one awful piece of work.
I appeared, with middling success, on the New York City audition circuit, but with disappointment I learned that what makes the most successful kind of working actress, in the traditional sense, is some one who is OK with being one of many very pretty, very talented, very docile cattle.
Strangely enough, I found creative satisfaction in an entirely unexpected place: experimental theater and performance art. I write, perform and create multi-media, maybe-feminist, maybe anti-feminist pieces for the stage.
Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that unless you’re Marina Abramovic, theatrical performance art doesn’t pay the bills.
Now lacking professional fulfillment, I spent a long, dark winter sending resumes to unresponsive places. At the restaurant, I watched diners who, notwithstanding me, didn’t even know how to look at each other. I seriously questioned whether the CEO, who had never once thanked me, had even a shred of empathy.
And so, disillusioned and desperate, I, like many of my generation, returned home, except “home” was a place I had never really known. A mutual friend put me in touch with SPAC, who graciously welcomed me to their team this summer. Scared, but determined to know what this beautiful place is all about, I went to my first show, the Jazz Fest, alone.