Two months in Toronto

 

I’ve been in Canada two months now. It’s kind of insane the amount that your life can completely change in eight weeks. It doesn’t feel like that short a time ago that I was stepping off the plane in Pearson International, completely overwhelmed and scared about how I was going to get from the airport to my hostel. Even thinking back to that day now, I can feel my fear. It was an almost tangible thing, how scared I was. It froze everything inside me. I couldn’t even cry. I guess the only thing I can do now is do a recap of what happened to me to explain what the general Irish emigrant goes through when they get off the plane.

Canada baby!

I arrived on the 13.50 Dublin-Toronto flight that Aer Lingus run daily. That daily flight is the flight that 90% of the people I met got. Different days, different weeks, but always the same flight time. It’s like an express route out of Ireland. I remember getting off the plane and having every single document I would need at the ready, passport, visa, insurance, proof of funds, Garda clearance letter – everything. I had everything ready as I stood in line at immigration.

And what happened? Nothing, I got asked a few questions about what I wanted to do here and where did I go to university and that was it. Visa stamped and that was it. I mean, yes, I did accidentally say I was here “to have some craic” to the immigration officer. But he had obviously had a couple of thousand Irish past him and was unfazed. Still, I wouldn’t recommend it. It is not a suave thing to do when your trying to impress someone.

How I managed to get two insanely huge suitcases off the luggage carousel and into a taxi by myself remains a mystery to me to this day. But I did it and driving into Toronto for the first also remains one of the scariest things I’ve ever done (and I’ve been to Coppers on a Saturday night). You don’t realise the size of the place, it is just so huge, this sprawling city and you have not one clue where your going. You could literally not be any more lost that you are at that moment. Also, the taxi drivers here are not into the chat, so I was in complete silence the whole 45 minute car ride, with just me going ‘Jesus Christ’ if we passed anything cool.

For my first six weeks in this city I stayed in a hostel, The Canadiana Hostel on Widmer Street and I can say it was possibly one of the best decisions of my life. Future Emigrants! A bit of advice! STAY IN A HOSTEL YOUR FIRST FEW WEEKS! You will meet your new Canadian family and have the best time just exploring the place together and having the craic. The Craic in your first four weeks is what will take up much of your time. You will want to have the most of it and have it all the time. You will go drinking every night and lie about the hostel during the day saying how much fun you had the night before, then doing it all again as soon as 6pm hits. This is what your first couple of weeks are for, getting to know the people who you will be living with, who you will be sharing everything with, the people who are basically taking over from your family. You need this time. Take it and enjoy it.

From my time in the hostel there are now a group of about 30 of us that are a little family. We all live together in groups, have a Whatsapp group where we post everything from nights out to what we’re all doing at weird moments in the day, an example being what type of ski mask we were all gonna buy to stop our faces freezing off. It’s just so good to have them. And possibly one of the best things about Irish people abroad is that everyone looks out for each other. When we all started to go on job interviews there was nothing but support and a will for everyone to get on well. No meanness, no fabled Irish begrudgery, just honest to god support. Seriously great to have that kind of network around you.

Finding a job wasn’t that hard. I’m not gonna lie, you don’t get off the plane and walk into a career here. It just doesn’t work that way. Most people here have been to college and have a degree but all of us are in the same boat. Working in retail and service jobs. I’m working in guest services in the aquarium here and its seriously fun, and the money isn’t too bad either! But if you want to continue your career from back home here, or even start it, be prepared to face an uphill battle. Canadian employers in areas like Marketing, HR, Business etc. all have Canadian graduates to pick from and want you to have Canadian experience. Which, you obviously don’t have. But look, I have a two year visa, so I’m not panicking. It’ll happen, you just have to be patient and work really really hard, which is something I’ve found Irish people are really really good at. As we said in the hostel, It’ll be grand lads…..it’ll be grand!

Do you know what is really hard though, here in Toronto? Finding somewhere to live. Getting a place to rent is perhaps the single biggest nightmare about living here. It is nigh on impossible to get somewhere decent without spending about $700-800 on rent. That’s just the facts. Once you get over the sick feeling of having to pay that every month then you’ll be able to deal with things a bit easier. You will need to jump through several fiery airborne hoops to be able to rent in Toronto though, credit checks, employment letters, first and last (and sometimes an extra month in-between) is all needed to secure somewhere. And even then, more than likely your gonna end up living in a hole. Just be prepared for a hard old time of it when looking for a place. Because otherwise you shall be living in a crack den that makes the RV from Breaking Bad look like a palace and still paying $700 for the privilege.

I’m currently living in a sublet with 6 of my friends. We all have our own rooms and are paying basically nothing for rent, because we have to be out by February. But the thought of having to spend Christmas in the hostel was just slightly depressing, so we took it and haven’t looked back. We get to save now until then and the househunt starts again in January. We’ll have ourselves a bit more together by then so I’m not too worried. Yet.

So…..House. Friends. Job. The big three. All checked off. It’s weird, because when your on that 13.50 flight on your own, the fear of not having those things is so all consuming that when everything falls into place, you don’t notice because your too panicked about finding one of the others. It’s strange. I’m only writing this post now because this is quite possibly the first time in two months that I have been able to sit down for longer that an hour and think about how my life has changed since I stepped onto that plane. It boggles my mind a little bit that it has only been 8 weeks. It feels so much longer, but then again I can be sitting on the subway on the way to work or walking past the CN Tower and you’ll be like…..ARGH! I’M IN TORONTO!! Then you cop on and go about your day.

It’s very strange. But in a good way.

Oh….but it is F**KING FREEZING here. No joke. There will be frozen Irish people littered around these streets by winters end. For sure.

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Canada Here I Come: The Freakout Begins

So this day three weeks exactly I will be stepping off the plane and into a very long line for customs to start my new life all on my own in Toronto. And about an hour ago I had my first major freakout about leaving.

I wrote last week about my family and blah, blah, blah all that depressing serious stuff. But tonight, not one hour ago, I did a dry packing run and tried to fit some shoes in a suitcase. They did not fit and I absolutely lost my mind. I admit, I cried a bit and threw a lovely ankle boot across the room. Complete temper tantrum meltdown. And I was pretty much fine until today (apart from the stress dreams I talked about last week), just kind of cruising along, being uber calm and blasé about everything. But the fact I couldn’t fit some shoes in a case seemed to have cracked some invisible wall around me. I am now a mess of nerves and nausea. 

Guys, I have so much stuff. I don’t know how I accumulated so much and the thought of having to decide and chose what to bring with me, pack up my entire life into two cases is freaking me out – majorly. The fact that I won’t be able to just run to my room and grab whatever is really jarring to me. After five years of living away from home from the ages of 17 to 22 I obviously got used to not having everything around me, but then again I was only in Dublin. A train away. And when I moved back to my family home where everything I owned was right there, it was a nice feeling. 

My amateur inner psychologist is telling me that it’s not the possessions I will miss, but the familiarity of home. Just being completely comfortable somewhere and not having to worry. But now I’m going to be on a different continent, a different time zone and completely on my own. I don’t know a soul in Toronto, not one person and it was me who decided to go on my own and not follow friends to London or Australia. I wanted to do this on my own, but I’m still allowed to freak out a bit, right?

This is a list my mother made me, she is hiding the fact she is freaking out about me going rather well but it cracks every now and then, more and more lately though. 

The List

This list, is what in her opinion I should be bringing with me and this does not include all my clothes and shoes but other “essentials” I will need. It’s just not gonna happen. Unless I hire a sherpa and a donkey, half this stuff is not making the cut, because I am my own donkey and I will be the one traipsing around with everything. But I’m sitting here right now, and my room has turned into a maze. A maze made up of piles of clothes and assorted rubbish that I’m deciding should I throw away or keep or bring with me. Trying to hack my life up so it will fit into two suitcases.

I have waited so long to go, sacrificed nights out, quit one terrible internship and passed up the offer of a really cool one so I could save money to go to Canada. It’s what I’ve wanted for the past 18 months. But now that it’s actually real and actually happening and after my emotional wall cracking moment tonight, I am getting a unpleasant tingly feeling in my stomach. I still want to go, and I’m still so excited but now I feel like there’s a part of my brain that is rebelling against it and me not being able to fit my shoes into a case is what has made that part of my brain start drowning out all the good stuff I know will happen when I get over there. 

Does anyone have any advice for it? Or is it just something that happens to every prospective emigrant? Just a dawning realisation that your leaving everything familiar, your leaving whatever home you have and joining that customs line with two suitcases and the hope you don’t fuck everything up. 

Canada Here I Come: One Month to Go.

In a month I will be on a plane out of here and in the air, somewhere over the Atlantic, on my way to Toronto. For weeks now its been this abstract date, telling people that ‘Oh yeah, I’m flying out on the 17th of September’. It always seemed like such a long time away. But I woke up this morning and it just hit me like a brick wall. This wave of fear and nerves and excitement (At this point nervousness seems to be the overriding emotion) just washed over me and I allowed myself a little moment to freak out. I can’t believe how fast the time is going.

It’s not like I was unprepared for feeling like this. For the last few weeks I’ve been having what I can only call stress dreams. Missing my plane, opening my suitcase and finding only socks and perhaps the most horrible, not being allowed onto the plane until I’ve sat my Leaving Cert which causes me to wake up in a state of sheer panic. I mean we all remember that feeling of LC stress right? And what’s worse is, it’s always bloody Maths that I’m dreaming about. And I’ve never studied. It’s awful! I was never really sure what a vector was in the first place so dreaming about them is just a complete nightmare. I’ve never felt anything like it so maybe it’s my mind subconsciously using the most stressful time in my life to let me know I should be more worried? Slightly depressing if my amateur psychology is right.

Everyone usually asks me the same three questions:

“When are you off?

“Got everything sorted?”

and

“Have you got a job out there?”

The first question is fine, “Yeah I’m leaving in a few weeks, can’t believe how fast it’s coming round” is my usual stock answer, but the other two I usually just hedge around, because no, I don’t have everything sorted (I may have pulled the zip of my suitcase) and definitely no, I don’t have a job. And somehow I feel bad saying that.

People get that look in their eyes, like, ‘Oh you don’t have job? Then what are you even doing going over?”. To be honest, I think it’s a rude question to ask. I would never ask someone who is emigrating have they got a job, because I know that it is a stressful and scary time and sometimes to opportunity to job hunt from another continent is quite difficult. And whenever anyone asks me and I say, no, nothing sorted yet, I feel bad about myself. It’s not a rational feeling and I may be projecting my own issues with it onto people but still, it’s like when someone asked you what results you got in exams. So in the nicest, I know you mean well voice, basically back off, it’s none of your business!

If I was more certain of what I wanted to do, career wise, then looking and job hunting might be a bit easier. But I’m still as confused as I was when I graduated university. I’m passionate about a lot of things, but having to pick one and do it as a career is proving more difficult that I would have thought. I see loads of my fellow graduates who seemed to just know what they wanted to do. They got a job in that field and have been working ever since. I was always so jealous of their certainty. I don’t have it yet, and absolutely one of the main reasons that I’m moving to Toronto is that I want to figure out what I’m good at and go for it 100%. I used to have this idea of what my life would be like, making 5 year plans when I was 18. I mean, it was ridiculous. I had no idea of the real world, or what kind of person I wanted to be. It’s sounds so cliché and so self-indulgent but it’s true, I need to go away and figure my shit out. Try and become someone, and I don’t think Ireland is the place for me to do that.

But other than people asking the same three questions every time I leave the house, I have all the major ticks on the list done. Flights, insurance, somewhere to stay for the first few weeks, lots of socks and some snow boots. I am fairly certain I have forgotten stuff but luckily I have my mother adding to my list daily. She seems determined to get me a hat with ear flaps and/or earmuffs. I am determined to not get any of these things near my head, ever. Although I’ve heard Toronto winters can be seriously brutal so maybe I’ll cave and wear the owl shaped earmuffs my sister bought last year (hipster or just idiotic?). I think taking my mothers advice about what I need to bring is proving difficult for me. Basically because it makes me want to cry. Every time I think about leaving my family, the constant low level of emotion that I’m at, will spike and I either need to go and have a little cry or end up listening to some sad music and wallowing for half an hour.

Because that’s my main fear, leaving my family. And not because they are such amazing people and we are so close, because we’re not. In the sense that we don’t hug a lot and don’t have a lot of deep meaningful conversations. But it’s more of a unseen bond, one that goes deep and while we don’t always show how much we care, we are ride or die for each other. Although, I don’t think my mum counted on having three of her adult children back living with her along with my nine year old sister, but that’s what happened. And the massive amount of horrible crap we went through has meant I have serious anxiety about leaving them. I won’t go into why I am, some people have rough home lives and I was one of them. And I had to step up, or I chose to step up. But it has left me with that residual worry for them. It’s not like I can come home and help, I’ll be across an entire ocean and that’s my one true fear about going, not about not being able to find a job or finding somewhere to live, but worrying and hoping that they’ll be ok. I’ll have to find some way to make peace with it within the next four weeks or else I will have a meltdown on the plane.

It’s half the reason I’m not letting any of them go to the airport with me. I’m staying with my best friend the night before my flight. I remember when my brother went to Australia and I was in college handing in my thesis and calling them to see how it went at the airport and my sister just said they all cried and cried. I know I couldn’t take that, especially from my youngest sister. So my best friend Gina is gonna take the bullet and make sure I get on the plane. (Thanks, G!)

I mean, I’ll get on the plane. I will. I have four weeks left at home to prep for getting on that plane. I’m getting on the plane.

*I should point out that I am seriously, deliriously excited about going and having serious fun in Toronto, but I just seem to write a bit depressingly about the experience, I don’t know why. It just happens! But if you can’t talk about how much of a scaredy cat you are on the internet, then when can you?

 

 

 

 

 

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

The two Irelands.

Dublin Photo: '11pm' by Mario Braz

Dublin Photo: ’11pm’ by Mario Braz

Has anyone else noticed the stories in the paper about a Dublin property bubble? About how rent is now double what it is in the rest of the country and theres now a massive supply vs demand problem? I hadn’t really thought seriously about it, mainly because I’m stuck living in the massive space outside Dublin. Also known as the rest of the country.

But then I started hearing about all these new jobs that are going to be opening, hundreds of them. 150 jobs here, 50 jobs there and a massive 300 jobs here – and all in Dublin!

Now obviously its fantastic that there are jobs being created and people will be employed and it’s all good for the economy, but which economy? Because it looks to my admittedly untrained eye that a little mini economic oasis has sprung up in Dublin. It’s totally cut off from the rest of the country and it sounds like its booming! A little celtic tiger cub! And that to me is a little scary.

You have Google, Facebook and Twitter all here and they are just the biggest guns of Dublin’s emergence as Europe’s new Silicon Valley. Again, this is all really great news for Dublin, but seriously, what about the rest of the country? I see on Twitter, people bleating on about how Ireland is recovering and how its all so fantastic. However, um…you lot are in Dublin and seem to rarely venture out of your little craft beer haven so don’t be mad if I find those proclamations a bit premature.

I moved back home from the big city so I could save money to emigrate (I’m nearly there thankfully!) but I see first hand what rural Ireland is like and have a hard time believing that a real substantial recovery is taking place. I understand that everywhere that isn’t a city is of course going to be a metropolis, but I just feel like the rest of the country, barring the bigger regional towns, are stuck in a economic and cultural wasteland. Either due to all the younger people moving to the cities or emigrating, these places in Ireland are stagnating and I think it’s just really upsetting.

Hopefully, by the end of this summer I won’t be here. Yes, I am totally and completely abandoning the country (like I’m such a loss, I’m sure) but if thousands like me are doing the same thing then what is going to happen to our small towns and villages. Will they just wither and die?

I was thinking about this recently when I looked at the local community centre in my town. The paint is peeling and it sits empty 90% of the time. I was also thinking about all the things that could be done with the place. Self-defence classes, first aid courses, language classes or even computer classes for older people. I mean, all these activities cost money and need skilled people but if there isn’t any demand or even interest then of course nothing is going to happen and communities just stagnate and die. It’s really depressing!

Now, I know I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the country, only my own so if there are any smaller towns or villages that are thriving, then please let me know. But I just don’t see any places to get cronuts or craft beers opening up in any place that doesn’t have a Dublin postcode anytime soon. And it’s a real shame.

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!)

The Advertising trifecta – Marriage, Men and Children.

Littlewoods, the online shopping purveyor of stiff looking party dresses and shiny home furnishings have a new advertisement running right now on TV. Perhaps you’ve seen it? It’s running every 5 minutes and contains all the hallmarks of a classically sexist advert. Way to be original guys!

Like most of Littlewoods Ireland ads there are a few features that are always present in a Littlewoods ad, we have the scarily permanent smile of Caroline Morahan who is always clad in a form fitting but incredibly flattering dress, the extremely well lit set, which looks like Oprah’s infamous lighting team got to work there and the always present loving family home scene, whether it be a beautifully furnished kitchen or an amazing Christmas living room. It’s all pretty harmless in a unoriginal way.

However, their new ad takes a lovely turn into seriously sexist with the introduction of their Spring/Summer ’14 ad. Here is the offending piece of video:

 

So we can see that woman is sitting in gorgeous kitchen, gets invited to school reunion and is immediately worried about what other people will think of her life. But hang on! Caroline is here to help you, like a 1950’s fairy godmother. You will of course talk about your amazing kids and your amazing husband (yes! A HUSBAND! A MAN! A MAN….*SWOON!) and oh yeah, your amazing wardrobe and house too.

I mean, what else could a woman possibly have or want to talk about in a room full of her peers? (A career, maybe?) But no, we get a glossy look at the ideal life of a Littlewoods customer. Smiling kids, handsome husband and picture perfect house. How modern of you Littlewoods, glad to see you shaking things up with such original ideas!

Was there no other ideas? Do these people think women contribute nothing more to society than caring about dresses and parading our perfectly dressed children in peoples faces? I would love to know the gender divide on the creative team for this video. I am imagining some suited men sitting around a table thinking; “What do Irish women care about? Come on guys – think! AH we got it! Clothes, Men and Children!”

It’s like the advertising trifecta for outdated ideas – advertising in 2014 then.

But it’s just another entry on the exhaustingly long list of Irish (and international) advertisers getting it so wrong. Because remember girls, all we’re meant to care about is shopping and finding a husband – and to bag him make sure to get on Littlewoods so we can order that perfect dress, that will slim our hips and push up our tits, so we can attract that ‘handsome husband’ and we can do even more online shopping for Tupperware and shoes, while he stands proudly over us while we’re browsing on your lovely site.

Hey Twenty-Somethings! Your useless!

I came upon this article from the Irish Examiner today, published two weeks ago and it’s emphasis, whether intentional by a slightly bitchy writer or just a naive look at the twenty-something generation, seems to be on making women in their 20’s feel bad about themselves. With the crux of the article asking, why can’t all twenty-somethings be like the 23 year old Oscar winning phenomenon? We twenty-somethings are failures at life, because we aren’t like good old J. Law. Charming right?

According to the article, the bulk of us are apart of Irelands stuck generation and we spend our time binge-watching Netflix, while 27 year old Lena Dunham has won numerous awards for creating her own TV show. The whole tone of the article seems to be passively aggressively hinting at the notion that if these successful young women can do it with such elegance and ease, then why can’t the rest of us? Why aren’t we more ambitious? Why are we wasting our 20’s? Why aren’t we more like us when we were that age?

The reason behind our lazy ways seems to be because we are not adults, we are ‘kidadults’. A generation of passive, lazy people who still live at home with their parents and who consume the accomplishments of the rare twenty-something success story from the comfort of our family couch.

I mean, all twenty somethings are like this, a TED talk said so;

“Hanging out and hooking up are just some of the ways today’s ‘kiddults’ are wasting their 20s, says clinical psychologist, Dr Meg Jay.”

God, there is just so much wrong with that sentence. Look, everyone in their twenties goes out and hooks up, but we aren’t defined by that. You can’t just dismiss an entire generation because you think they aren’t ambitious enough. The truth is, people in their twenties are ambitious now, we want great jobs and to be successful.

Except, we are paying for the mistakes of the previous generation. They are the ones who monumentally screwed us economically and now thing it’s ok to bash twenty-somethings because it looks like we aren’t working? That is total crap.

The opportunities just aren’t there anymore. We all wish they were but there are only so many unpaid internships you can get treated badly at before you start to lose confidence. But the writer of this article seems to think we should be so lucky to be doing unpaid internships – it’s all about experience guys! – an old chestnut trotted out by our elder generation who feel we should be grateful for the scraps they throw down from the employment table.

Why can’t we be happy working for free without any regulation and most of the time, no intentions of full time employment. I mean, the intern culture in this country is just depressingly grim, but the article takes a even worse turn when the girl who is doing an unpaid internship pipes up with this little gem;

“From a personal point of view, becoming a mum is definitely part of my long-term plan. For now, though, I’m just focused on my career.”

What is grating about this isn’t the idea of having children, its the fact that this was even an issue for the writer to include. Would you ask a male twenty something about his plans to have future children? No, it wouldn’t be asked. But for women, children obviously have to be included in the conversation, even if you are in your early twenties, as it’s obviously never too early to be thinking about kids ladies!

Even another comparison to J.Law is included;

“Even overachieving Lawrence says she can’t wait to move off centre stage and start a family.
“I do feel like the reason I was put on this Earth is to be a mother,” says the starlet, who’s dating British actor, Nicholas Hoult, “which is why it’s funny for me to end up with such an overwhelming career.”

So you can want to be successful in your career, but it’s always better to move from “centre stage” and have children? I mean, Jennifer Lawrence thinking it’s ridiculous for her to have such an amazing career, calling it ‘overwhelming’, just hurts my soul.

It’s the whole notion that ‘Oh gee gosh! How did I get such a good job – I have a vagina!”, like women shouldn’t want to be ambitious, and that they should be shocked with themselves when they do a good job is just such a dangerous line of thinking.

You can’t just assume that we’re a lost generation, we’ve been dealt a really shitty lot. We were lucky enough to come of age in the worst financial crisis in decades. So, yeah, we might be a bit slower getting things going, but trying to suggest that we don’t want to be successful is just insulting. We don’t need advice from thirty and forty somethings. You’ve done enough – seriously you have.

We’ll be fine – even if we are millenials.