Canada Here I Come: Part One

So after a whole year of saving and visa applications, everything is in place. Come September I will be flying out to Toronto to join the thousands of others who have fled Ireland in hope of something better. Generation Emigration, as we are so lovingly called is still in full swing, despite what some media outlets would have you to believe.

I remember in January of this year, thousands of people flooding message boards and Facebook groups wondering when the Canadian IEC visa programme would be open for applications. Only 7,000 visas would be released for Ireland and the competition was fierce. Weeks went by and people were on the verge of nervous breakdowns, waiting by laptops daily for any word from the programme as to when it might open.

The visa process for Canada is quite long compared to Australia, the other haven of the Irish emigrant. CV’s have to be uploaded, Garda clearance letters and specially sized passport photos are needed. Days are spent waiting on conditional acceptances. It’s all rather stressful, as anybody who has been through it will tell you.

The programme finally opened at 8pm on the dot in the third week of March. I got a place at 8.01pm and was number 792 on the list. By 8.12pm, all 3,500 allocated first round visas were gone. The next week, another 3,500 were gone in five minutes. I remember laughing at the time, thinking about articles and news segments on the recovering economy that I had read that were being circulated in the Irish media and on Twitter especially (usually by people working in the tech and start up game). Seven thousand people, many with university degrees and more with high level trade skills booked their tickets out of the country in less than 10 minutes. And lets not forget the waiting list, where hundreds of people are waiting in vain hope that someone will drop out and a visa place will open up. It’s almost laughable, if it wasn’t so depressing.

I’ve written before about how I am disillusioned with this country and it’s seemingly two economies, going in polar opposite of each other, and how people my age are festering in this country. I’ve talked about the differences between Dublin and rural Ireland and how all this recovery talk is always centred on Dublin. So can you really blame people for wanting to leave? I said it on Twitter last week, there may be a superficial recovery happening, but underneath is a deep rot, that no number of start-ups will be able to fix in the long term. It’s an incredibly pessimistic and cynical view I know, but am I wrong? Companies are still asking for applicants that either have 5-7 years experience or else interns who are expected to be full time employees without any of the benefits. There is a skills gap that is only widening.

The list of skills that employers are demanding are not matching up to what people actually have. How can you have people experienced in coding, graphic design, digital marketing, developing, sales and social media all at the one time? It just seems like a terrifically flawed market to me. I know there are people like that out there, but they are not in the majority. So again, can you blame people for wanting to emigrate to somewhere where there is a slightly more even playing field?

I honestly didn’t consider emigration when I graduated college. I was in a great internship and really thought things would work out. Alas they didn’t, and what followed was a series of internships where my confidence was trampled on by panicked rural employers who wanted a quick fix that an intern was not qualified to give. After these experiences, I began thinking about emigration more seriously. Australia at first seemed like the best option. My brother had just come back from there raving about the opportunities and every day on Facebook I seen more and more of my friends booking flights. I could have a visa in less than a week and be in Sydney before Christmas. In the end, after thinking it over, Canada jumped out at me (also, I don’t love the beach and hot temperatures) as a place where I could see myself. Knowing the application process was slightly more complicated I spent the next few months gathering information, and money, in preparation for the programme opening. I was one of the lucky ones, I got my place and am basically ready to leave.

I’m not sorry I’m going, I don’t feel any desire to stay. I feel despondent when I think about Ireland, it doesn’t feel like somewhere I should be anymore. I’m sure I’m going to get comments saying I’m whiny, or a quitter etc. and maybe I’m just not trying hard enough and there is a part of me that maybe agrees. Maybe it is me? But then again, I really don’t think so. I see so many of the people I knew from college and school working in unpaid internships and ridiculously low paying jobs all for “the experience” and it makes me sad.

Our generation deserves better, and if we need to go to Canada, or to London and Australia to get it, then I think we should hop on that plane without a backward glance. Fixing what other people broke shouldn’t be our burden. And if you think I’m wrong, then think of those 7,000 people who all but left the country in 10 minutes.

I’m planning on writing about the emigration process until I step onto the plane to Toronto, so I would love to hear your thoughts, stories and comments on the subject.

 

The Cool Girl

I was late to the party with the Gillian Flynn novel ‘Gone Girl’. I picked it up in a train station shop about six months ago to keep myself occupied on a long journey. It worked, I demolished the book in three hours. I loved the characters, the plot, the pacing – everything about it hooked me in.

I’m not going to carry on talking about the book because most people on the planet read it when it came out and there are approximately one billion articles and stories about what is wrong and right with the book. However, there is a passage that has stayed with me until now. I even remember marking it in the book so I could go back and enjoy the amazing paragraph of writing that it contained. I call it the ‘Cool Girl Paragraph‘. It is where Amazing Amy describes a certain breed of woman. And it is kinda revelatory. Introducing…The Cool Girl.

The Cool Girl

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. – Gilian Flynn, Gone Girl

The ‘Cool Girl’, like her quirkier sister, the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ was invented by a man. Somewhere a guy was writing a screenplay and out came ‘The Cool Girl’ – the ultimate fantasy. She was like Mila Kunis in ‘Friends with Benefits’, or Mila Kunis in ‘Ted’….or just generally any Mila Kunis film ever made. You know…she hangs out and watches sports and says ‘Fuck’ a lot. Doesn’t want anything from you except sex and high fives.

Even reality TV is immune to this type of girl. I don’t know about anyone else but ‘Made in Chelsea’, the (scripted) reality show about young rich people in London is my guilty pleasure. On a Monday night when the rest of you are all watching Game of Thrones, I am watching a extremely well dressed group of people drink amazingly delicious looking drinks and having imaginary dramas all contained in the borough of Chelsea. I love it.

If you’ve been following it you’ll know who Binky is. Binky is a Cool Girl. She hangs with the boys and doesn’t care about gossip and never complains – generally just the coolest girl ever. However, Binky got a boyfriend, a tall hipster London boy (or boi!) called Alex. They started going out and Binky made a point of saying she didn’t care if they were official boyfriend and girlfriend until he said it. She was desperately blasé about their entire relationship, but so obviously did care about it that it became hard to watch her try and be cool about rumours that her beloved was cheating. She tried to brush them off and be cool about it. She really did. Not until her meddling friends brought her concrete proof that the little shithead had actually cheated did she break down. It was so hard to watch, mainly because it finally showed Binky having actual feelings. She couldn’t hide them behind a facade of indifference. She was properly hurt. Sometimes even Cool Girls have breaking points. This guy gets extra shithead points for trying to say that he blacked out and didn’t remember having sex with someone else – super classy.

But the thing is, the concept of the Cool Girl was created by a man, but women are the ones watching these films and seeing these actresses and adjusting our behaviours to suit this prototype of woman because why? Because there is some part of us that still watches romantic comedies and thinks they are in any way realistic? That if we act like the women in those films that we’ll get our guy too? That if we can be like Jennifer Lawrence that we’d be happy?

Buzzfeed recently published an article about the ultimate Cool Girl, Jennifer Lawrence and the history of the Cool Girl. It’s an amazing read. (http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/jennifer-lawrence-and-the-history-of-cool-girls)

But that article got me thinking. Has this constructed version of the way women should be seeped into our generation so seamlessly that we don’t even notice it anymore? Recently a friend of mine broke up with his girlfriend of 7 months. I remember asking why, I had met this girl when they had started going out and she had seemed perfect for him. She liked craft beer and steak and his friends all liked her. So I was shocked when he said he had dumped her.

I asked him why he had ended it and he said: “Oh she turned into such a nag”. From then I heard that she had gotten angry at him for breaking plans they had to go drinking with his friends on a couple of occasions. “I couldn’t deal with that drama, she just wasn’t fun anymore” he had replied to me.

I hear that word a lot in relation to women, ‘drama’. Oh she was full of drama, she is so dramatic, drama follows her….. So basically, anytime a woman complains about something or gets angry, she is causing drama? And guess who doesn’t bring drama? – The Cool Girl.

It’s like women aren’t even being the women they want to be, they are being the women they think men want them to be. And that is just really sad. Are we trying to subconsciously fill this very specific version of what women should be like and not what we really are like, you know, a human being with varying emotions!!

I mean, I get it, the Cool Girls are….cool. They give off this effortless vibe, nothing will faze them. But man, it must take a lot of work not to tell someone to go fuck themselves when they blow you off for dinner for the third time so they can go hang with the boys, right?

The Ultimate Cool Girl

The Ultimate Cool Girl

Millennial Depression: Real or are we just lazy?

I turn 23 in seven weeks. I have a college degree, no permanent job, I live at home and I’m about to emigrate. To sum it up, I am the archetype of the 2014 millennial. And it is a seriously depressing position to be in. But I have to wonder, is it just me who feels like a massive failure or is it something that has settled into my generations psyche?

When I left college in 2012, we were all still slap bang in the middle of the recession but I had that kind of blind optimism that comes from being cocooned in a college campus where your surrounded by creative people and your all talking about and making interesting stuff, who wouldn’t want to hire us all immediately? It turns out, no one really wanted to, but still, it’d be different for me, right?

Um…a big fat no is the answer to that. I like so many graduates around the world, left college with a degree and not much else. There were the lucky few who got positions while the rest of us seethed with quiet jealously; “Oh we are SO happy for you! – NOT – I hate you”.

I’ve done the internship thing since I’ve graduated and had only one good experience, the rest being some of the worst times of my life. Knowing, and in some cases being told flat out, that you are there because, guess what!? We don’t have to hire anyone, we can just use “interns” to do a full time job and treat you like a pile of shite! Believe me, I’m not exaggerating, one employer told me flat out that it was my fault I couldn’t come up with a new marketing plan that would revolutionise their business. That was a nice blow to my confidence, let me tell you.

I feel like a massive failure. It’s like I had all these expectations, and expectations put on me by society and myself, and  all I can think is that I’m useless. It’s a heavy weight on my shoulders, the constant worry about money and what am I going to do? How can I actually make something of my life?

Am I just being a whiny entitled baby though? Am I the only one who feels like this? Is it just me not trying hard enough or just not being good enough that is stopping me from getting a job and getting on with my life? The ones I do know with jobs are making me feel like the above questions might be true. I can’t even go on Facebook anymore because seeing people with any good news makes me feel like even more of a failure.

I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a job, but it seems like you don’t hear from them. Are we so embarrassed about being a unemployed twenty-something that we just stay quiet? I mean, my last Facebook status was in October, when my dog sat in a flowerpot and I thought it was too funny not to share. But when I do timidly venture onto my page and see a status about someone getting a job I just deflate into a ball of depression and stress and the very loud “What is wrong with me?” thought pounding through my brain.

The American Psychological Association recently published a study saying that we millennials are the most stressed generation ever (also apparently we are the most financially conservative too). Which, if I’m honest, slightly mollifies me.

 

“Millennials are growing up at a tough time. They were sheltered in many ways, with a lot of high expectations for what they should achieve. Individual failure is difficult to accept when confronted with a sense you’re an important person and expected to achieve. Even though, in most instances, it’s not their fault — the economy collapsed just as many of them were getting out of college and coming of age — that does lead to a greater sense of stress,”

 

We’re stressed and not very happy. So why don’t we hear about it from actual millennials? All I read is pieces done by people who observe us, who are happily ensconced in their mid-thirties/forties lives, who feel like they have the all knowing power to tell us what we’re doing wrong. Pieces that either completely eviscerate us or have a pitying tone that makes us feel even worse about ourselves.

All I know is, is that my patience has run out. I am sick of feeling like crap. Sick of being only offered internships that barely cover rent, sick of everything in this country. Is Ireland recovering? Maybe it is for tech companies in the cities, but what about the rest of the country?

Two weeks ago 3,850 Canadian visas were snapped up in 8 minutes. On April 1st, 3,850 more will become available. I’m thinking this time they all go in less than 5 minutes. Is that a sign of recovery? Is that a sign that 18 – 35 year olds have faith in this country? That they might have a chance here?

I don’t think so – I think they feel like me.

Lost, annoyed, angry and a bit depressed but definitely not lazy.

(I’d love to hear from others who have an opinion or a story to share on this matter. Am I wrong? Is it just me who feels like this? – leave a comment below!)