Newsweek has a great article up, written by Jenny Norenberg, about all the options young people have these days over career, location, relationships. Norenberg both appreciates the options she's been given and sees how they can be overwhelming at times. She also talks about her mother, who had fewer options (getting married after college was the expectation, if not the rule) but greater stability. Here's an excerpt from this excellent piece:
I feel much the same about my life. I've lived in a lot of places, done a lot of different things. And there are always more options waiting just around the bend! It can make it hard to see where to go next, what to do next. While it hasn't always been perfect, while I haven't always been happy, I love that I have been able to experience these things. I know it's something I will be able to appreciate later.
Since graduation, we've struggled to make our own happiness. It seems that having so many choices has sometimes overwhelmed us. In the seven years since I left home for college, I've had 13 addresses and lived in six cities. How can I stay with one person, at one job, in one city, when I have the world at my fingertips?
The more choices you have, the more decisions you must make—and the more you have yourself to blame if you wind up unhappy. There is a kind of perverted contentedness in certainty born of a lack of alternatives. At my age, my mother, whether she liked it or not, had fewer tough decisions to make. I don't envy the pressure she endured to follow a traditional career path and marry early. But sometimes I envy the stability she had.
Once again I've been unable to resist the lure of a new city. So, as I start my legal career in Chicago, I'm again building friendships from scratch, learning my way around a strange new place. Yes, my friends and I could have avoided the loneliness and uncertainty inherent in our journeys, and gone back to our hometowns or stayed in the college town where we had each other. But I doubt any one of us would trade our adventures for that life. I have a sense of identity and self-assurance now that I didn't have, couldn't have had, when I graduated from college. And I know someday I'll look back on this time--before I had a spouse, a home and children to care for--and be thankful for the years that just belonged to me.
What do you think? Do you think we have too many choices at the risk of building stable homes, families and lives...or do you think our lives are richer for the experiences we get to have that our parents didn't? Do you ever wish you had fewer choices?