The 80’s Screwed Us Over

I am very lost right now. I’m not even at a crossroads, where at least I’d have a 25% change of going the right way. No. I am stranded in the middle of Sahara armed with nothing but punctured dreams and  a half-empty water bottle.

Got to love that ole cliché. You know, the one where you’re on that illusive quest for your place in the world? When really finding your place in world that’s literally threatening to implode at any moment seems a bit redundant to me. Life: You nail town two jobs, just to make ends meet. You go travelling to culture yourself. You may have even been lucky enough to scoop yourself up a guy/girl along the way yet here you are, like me, and everyone else in this generation, fumbling around in the dark for the light switch so you can finally see where you are going. Whenever someone brings up traits I associate with being a functional human aka an adult, I always think ‘is that even possible for me?’ At this current moment in time? Probably not, I conclude. I mean one day I’ll eventually pay off my loans and student debt at the age of fifty after having had to murder between one and fifteen debt collectors and after selling various organs on the black market. Until that point, I’ll continue to play games with myself like ‘how sad is too sad’ whilst simultaneously trying to beat my personal best in a rousing round of ‘how long I can make £17.45 last for.’ Fun fact: I can make £200 last twenty minutes but also stretch £3 over a week – how’s that for a life skill.  That said, many years of struggling to keep myself afloat have taught me that if I can find sustenance, remember to breathe and afford to get my eyebrows done then I’m doing better than some.

I wish that as a child my parents had told me that big dreams are the first step down a long, winding and extremely lonely path. I wish they had sat my precious ambitions down in a chair, cultivated it in the way of the world, and sent me off to study medicine. Rather than let me funnel away years of my life on music and writing. I wish I had only had small sized dreams, even medium-sized ones would have been okay I guess. Had that been the case this journey of life wouldn’t have left me so disappointed and with a lingering dread that everybody hates me. I grew up thinking I could make money by playing piano, writing songs and stories. I mean I love being musical and a pianist, but spending two months perfecting that Chopin Nocturne didn’t really benefit me beyond those fourteen minutes it took to play. Nobody told me that the arts were a quick route to poverty. Big dreams for Topher ‘the stupid’ Teen.

I attribute a large amount of blame for the above to the 80’s. Ignoring the fact that the 80’s made it basically impossible to get on the property ladder, there are lots of other reasons we can hate it for. I am part of the ‘You Can Be Anything You Like, I Think’ generation. If you were born between 1983-1994 then the 80’s have royally fucked you over. You, like me, are part of a generation where you tackle any problem by throwing a combination of money, attention and prescription medication at it. You do this because you parents thought that was the best way to handle any issue. I didn’t get to experience any of the fun aspects of the 80’s; like those massive mobile phones, mixed tapes or Madonna when she first slithered out the gates of Hades. No. All we got was the aftermath of a generation that was littered with assassinations, an evil Prime Minister and cocaine. Our parents were so exhausted from our births that they forgot they should keep their children in line and navigate them toward realistic expectations. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at pop-culture over the last twenty years.

I grew up having a very conflicted expectation of what a functioning family unit should be. Yes, perhaps I am the cliché that staggered out of a broken home, but I can’t blame that for my current state. I mean, separation is so common these days. You can’t swing a cat without hitting someone whose parents are/are getting divorced. When I was younger TV told me my mum and dad should lovingly parent the shit out of me. It didn’t pan out like that, we didn’t sit around in fluffy sweaters and talk about our day, but the parental unit wasn’t exactly laying down the law. I grew up part of a generation where it was low-key encouraged to be a socially maladjusted weirdo. Thanks to the internet and having access to the company of my friends’ liberal parents, I was taught it’s okay to go against the grain, because somebody would love me anyway. MTV and Kerrang fuelled my dreams of becoming a ‘rock star.’ Just another ideal to aspire to, kids! Having access to bands and their’ ‘glamorous’ drug-fuelled sex life did nothing but poison my ambition. All it did was lead me to become part of a band that would never make it – and also have sex with someone who was part of a band that wouldn’t make it. Thank your parents for exposing you to the misleading world of music television, guys. I wish someone had said to me that by doing everything I am passionate about would, in turn, lead to me being drunk and unemployed during portions of my life rather than being drunk and a millionaire. Ironically some parents that were supportive of their bizarre, deluded and slutty kids did alright because their offspring now have their own shows.

Let’s get real for a minute, and by real I mean borderline offensive. The prevailing parenting philosophy is you should let your kids do what they want. From both my personal experience, and that of some of my friends, I can tell you it doesn’t work. Parents have gotten too soft, too sensitive and too unwilling to let their children know that will fail at something. I wish someone had told me that playing piano like a boss and being creative with words won’t land me a husband or enable me to be financially secure. I love my parents, I do, but sometimes I wonder why they, and other adults around me, allowed me to believe in my dreams. A big ole cheer erupted every time I landed a leading role in a school play or when I past a graded piano exam, but where has that got me? Parents, you gave me too much self-esteem! Now adulthood has come along and is repeatedly bashing that self-esteem in the balls, whilst my dreams and ambition shy away sheepishly in the corner because they know they are next in line for a beating. The ‘yes you can’ belief system has done nothing more than see me use that once comprehensive list of childhood dreams as toilet paper.

It started with the generation I was born into and now we’ve reached the ‘you can do what you want, maybe, ask your dad when he gets back from Spain with his new girlfriend and the remainder of his mid-life crisis’ boiling point. I wish I was brought up in the days where kids were forced into taking over the family business, or to follow a career path that would see me not selling moderately priced clothes to random strangers for a living. Every time a guy comes in and buys a new pair of skinny jeans for going out later, where he will likely spend his rent money, I want to shake him. Don’t do it! It’s a trap. Don’t let the Bank of Mum and Dad lure you into thinking everything is okay because it is not okay! Allowing me to do what I want, to be happy, didn’t work. Happiness doesn’t buy shit cause one day I wanted all this other shit and the skills I had acquired didn’t let me buy any of it. Seriously, fam, why didn’t you just sit little Topher down and say ‘you might now save the world from a zombie apocalypse or become a concert pianist, but you’ll make an adequate retail worker one day.’ At least that way I could have prepared myself for the shit-storm of disappointment that was coming my way. Fuck the 80’s, man. You ruined it.


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