Let’s Just Take A Moment To Freak Out

Can we just take a moment to freak out about how, when we were kids, seven or eight or something like that, our schoolteachers or the news or our mothers explained Social Security to us and we formed a small working knowledge of how America would help us take care of ourselves, a feeling of security because we would work hard and contribute a bit of our earnings every time we got a paycheck and in turn, we’d have a little something — nothing insane, mind you, but a little something — coming our way when we grew too old to work and now we’re expected to just roll over and accept that we’ve been paying into a system that will go bankrupt by 2037, a system that gives 12.4 percent of our paychecks to people who invested just 6.5 percent of their own, a system we fuel without hope that we’ll reap its benefits? Does that warrant freaking out?

There are men in suits and men in overalls who devote their livelihoods to having a say over what goes in and out of a woman’s body. Have that baby, take this dick, don’t take those pills, there’s always adoption, a fetus is a real human being with rights [like the right to be told what she can and can’t do with her body once she becomes a woman]. And they might get away with it, too, because some women are scared of feminism, ‘don’t relate to it,’ enjoy their nail polish and their razors and their bras; they’re scared of feminism because other women told them they’re doing it wrong, they’re a tool of the patriarchy, they only like those things because a man said to like ’em… I mean, we may have our differences, ladies, but can we just agree on one thing? When there are policies that treat our uteruses like foreclosed homes and our bodies like prisons, alienating each other for not being lady enough or feminist enough only makes it harder to remember who the real enemy is. Let’s just take a moment to freak out over how often we forget that.

A freaky thought is we will watch every celebrity that defined our childhoods, die — it’s already begun. Whitney Houston is dead. Michael Jackson is dead. Brittany Murphy is dead. Patrick Swayze is dead. When we are much, much older, a new world will exist where all of our cultural reference points have been replaced by people who haven’t been born yet. Those people will create the music that plays, they will grace the magazine covers, they will donate their bloated salaries to charity and take photographs with bald children in hospital wards and we will sit on the sidelines and watch it happen, or not. A new world will exist and we won’t be expected to adjust, just to stay quiet and lost in our pasts until we die like we’re supposed to. A freaky thought is our parents have already watched most of their childhood idols die. A freaky thought is our grandparents are living in that new world already, this one just happens to belong to us.

While we’re at it, let’s freak out about love — wanting it, finding it, keeping it, believing in it, staying in it, recognizing it, holding it tighter than we’re supposed to. How do we get what we want — monogamy, a family, a fulfilling life with rotating partners, freedom, security — when we don’t know what we want in the first place? I mean, how long have we really known ourselves, anyway? Twenty years? Thirty? That’s a third of a lifetime, at best, how are we supposed to know ourselves with all of that sprawling and unmarked road stretched out before us? How are we supposed to trust our desires when we’ve hardly had time to get to know ourselves? How do we figure out what’s important?

Let’s just take a minute, right now, to freak out because the rest of the time we’re supposed to stay quiet; the rest of the time we’re reminded that we’re not starving children in Africa as if there aren’t enough starving children in America to compare us to; the rest of the time we have to qualify everything with I know it could be worse and I’m really lucky but… The rest of the time it’s our peers — whose Social Security will dry up before they touch it and whose reproductive systems are at risk for becoming government property and who will, someday, lose everything they’ve ever loved, if they even make it that far — screaming at each other to stop freaking out and check your privilege. Let’s freak out real quick because our own generation is willing to point in at itself and call an underemployed 21-year-old with $100,000 of student loan debt and no idea how they’ll afford retirement ‘privileged’ because they’re a male or they’re white or they’re American or they have internet access. Let’s freak out because the term ‘underprivileged’ indicates there is no middle ground, you’re either privileged or you’re not, and isn’t it convenient to generalize people as one thing or another? Isn’t it freaky how we spend our energy judging each other for feeling fucked rather than questioning a system that actively enslaves our generation under the guise of education?

Let’s just take a moment to freak out.


Now get back to work. TC mark

image – Shutterstock


More From Thought Catalog

  • Elaine

    Brilliant. And I’m currently freaking out.

    • a

      i’m sorry… i generally love what you post, and never comment on it (sorry about that too- its awesome!) but this one made me go a different direction.
      first off- aren’t you australian? from what i’ve gathered from your posts, you’re not from here, and as such, i feel like some of your ‘freak out’ moments are unwarrented- you may love new york, but worst case? you move back to australia, which is not a position that very many people are in ( i may be totally off here- and apologies if i am and reading situation incorrectly.).
      further, i think that its mildly counter-productive to write something that offers no recourse; sure, anyone can freak out… its the people who are able to turn that around and engage a solution that are to be commended.
      you offer no solution; and in doing so i kinda feel as though you encourage the generic apathy that pervades our generation (im 26), which doesn’t help solve any problems. i can paint a picture as well, but the actual change to the landscape is going to have to come from the people involved in the first place.

      • Salien

        Wow, you have perfectly illustrated the last paragraph. Irony.

      • http://www.facebook.com/josh.burns82 Josh Burns

        Why would you think she’s from Australia? All of the pieces I’ve seen of hers are New York based.
        Do you hate poetry also? It often doesn’t address a solution, but rather expresses a feeling.
        One more thing, Acknowledging a problem exists (and drawing attention to that problem) is the first step to invoking change.

  • Amanda

    Sharing this. Everywhere.

  • http://rachelemilywrites.wordpress.com rachelemilyb

    I love everything about this, and by “love” I mean “I’m just as paranoid and freaking out as you are.”

  • Valerie

    Nailed it.

  • Nick


  • Alexander


  • http://gravatar.com/alixsophia alix sophia

    This. all of everything mentioned all the time.

  • michaelwg

    Dear Stephanie, for publishing an article on T.C that didn’t contain bullet points of how one should live in their 20’s, but rather contained topical political themes that are kind of a big deal (as in fucking major), I salute you. Also, slighty aroused right now.

    • anon


    • ga


  • http://twitter.com/mariannemichael Marianne M Chrisos (@mariannemichael)


  • CZanghi

    Every time I read your stuff I’m like ‘This is really good, who wrote it? Hmmm Stephanie Germanotta?! Holy shit Lady Gaga writes for Thought Catalog?!” And then I take another look. Anyway, you’ve probably heard that before and I just wanted to give you a roundabout compliment.

  • D

    We’re boned.

  • Paige

    This article taught me that Patrick Swayze is dead. I was already freaking out about never retiring and body politics and being $100,000 in debt from student loans, but now I’m freaking out because I have no idea what is happening in popular culture!

    • yuppp

      yo he died almost exactly 3 years ago

  • ATAK

    “Let’s freak out real quick because our own generation is willing to point in at itself and call an underemployed 21-year-old with $100,000 of student loan debt and no idea how they’ll afford retirement ‘privileged’ because they’re a male or they’re white or they’re American or they have internet access.” – just because people are in difficult situations does not mean that they aren’t privileged. Everyone has personal matters that are difficult to cope with, but that does not mean that they are systematically oppressed because of certain dimensions of their identity as women, people of color, queer folks, and the undocumented are. There are tons of people who are young, in debt, and unemployed, but being white and male gives you way more access and agency to bettering one’s situation than otherwise.

    • Annie

      That bit bothered me as well.

      • Mara

        Yep. Being underprivileged in one arena doesn’t negate your privilege in another and vice versa.

    • Jasmine

      Thank you. I loved a everything about this. Except that one part.

    • LO

      Yea, this part kind of derailed the whole article for me. :[

      • N

        Same here

  • Magdalena

    You have been killin’ it lately Steph. HOLLA. Also, I’m getting your playlists on Spotify somehow and I’m loving the shit out of them. Cheers to you all day.

  • Ollie

    This is well written and true, but let me just say, be careful with this line of thinking. I do not advocate self-delusion or, worse, positive thinking; but thoughts like these, when ruminated on too long, can both signify and trigger a latent mental downfall. In other words, if you can avoid it, don’t disrupt your already disrupted twenties by falling into a deep depression. I was relentlessly thinking and writing things similar to this when I was twenty-five and it led directly to a six-month-long “vacation” in Nihilistic Despair Town. That’s a bad place to visit for any length of time, but six months? The thing to do is take lots of long walks and read as many great novels as you can, especially those that chronicle the particular anxieties you articulate here, which is to say all of them.

    • Maura

      TAKE A MOMENT to freak out. Not a day. Not a week. A moment. I thought it was perfect.

      • Ollie

        Maura, I believe you have mistaken my comment—which, granted, is little more than a self-serving projection (show me a comment that isn’t)—for a critique of the article’s merit, a judgment as to whether it is anything less than “perfect.” Please forgive the unintended implication. AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR CAPITAL LETTERS. I’ve never stopped loving you.

    • pep

      I can tell you are also prone to having too much to think at times… I’ve been there too. Sometimes, I have to remind myself it is important to freak the F out and question whatever hermeneutical framework, then turn it off before the realization (whatever it may be) can totally influence some kind of destructive physical and real manifestation of the crazy. Which can sometimes lead you (me) down a path paved with some irrevocable, and perhaps regrettable choices.. but that’s just me. but I did really enjoy this!

    • somefeminist

      Thanks for this. I’ve been struggling with these thoughts lately and have been wondering how to shake it, I can feel myself going on a downward spiral into serious depression/anxiety because of this sort of thinking and I need to get a hold of it, now.

  • http://gravatar.com/rosiemccapp rosiemccapp

    I cannot love this enough. Thank you for this concise summary of our generation.

    • A Man in Overalls

      The contradictions in this are quite funny. You have a woman who says their are those who wear overalls or suits that decide whether females should: have that baby, take this dick, don’t take those pills, there’s always adoption, a fetus is a real human being with rights [like the right to be told what she can and can’t do with her body once she becomes a woman]. First off, you lost legitimacy when you state “take that dick,” second, later in your rambling you said “isn’t it convenient to generalize people as one thing or another.” Men in suits or overalls are the enemy – generalization? I think so. You are so narrow in your scope of things, especially when you add your obvious feminist tendencies, that it is hard to take your seriously as someone who is really “struggling,” or deserving of a “freak-out.” There is no need for feminism. There is no need for male dominance, there is a need for everyone to co-exist as unique individuals whom share this earth whether we like it or not. Fuelling feminism seems to only fuel anger and hatred toward the opposite sex, which does not solve any problems you “feminists” face. PS, your concept of what social security is and what it is going to become could not be more incorrect.

      • Jack

        No need for feminism??? Says you…a man. Shut up.

      • Stacie

        A Man in Overalls is telling a woman she doesn’t need feminism. Cute.

      • http://gravatar.com/emmamcgrath Emma McGrath

        Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Shut the fuck up.

  • Melissa

    this is why i love you. this is why i love you.

  • nightshaye

    It was brilliant until: “Isn’t it freaky how we spend our energy judging each other for feeling fucked rather than questioning a system that actively enslaves our generation”

    I often see people’s words of encouragement or even wisdom while trying to help another be mistaken as “judging”. I often see those words of encouragement toward others much more than I see “judging” in the non-constructive critical sense. Maybe it’s because even within the encouragement there are parts of it which can be both useful but pretty hard to hear. It can make it less obvious that the words of encouragment come because other people care.

    Maybe what you see is judging and maybe it isn’t. Either way, if that is how things stand why does the status quo, and, questioning an unfair system have to mutually exclusive? To my knowledge the one doesn’t exclude the other, and both can happen at the same time. As a matter of fact, it is happening now- do I think there needs to be more questioning though? Of course. Lots of young people are doing amazing things in that realm. Pay attention to them! They have a lot of direction to offer anyone.

    The reason I say “It was brilliant until…” is that to me it made me think the brilliance of the whole article was being wrapped up as a way to justify self-pity (whether it was meant that way or not), when it really could have been something of greatness.

    See paragraph 2.

  • A.

    Thanks for the article. Some women are not afraid of feminism. Pro-life is an honorable choice, too.

    • S

      Honorable choices don’t encroach in rapey ways on the bodies of other people.

    • http://gravatar.com/emmamcgrath Emma McGrath

      No, it’s not. It’s an unjust declaration of control. It will never be honorable for any other human being to wield control over my reproductive rights.

  • Connor


  • Moosa

    This article is a joke. I’m really not the kind of person who trolls on message boards or hates on people’s work, but seriously? Don’t you just feel a tad bit whiny? “Reproductive systems becoming government property” or “enslaved under the guise of education” is just shock-language. You never HAD to get a student loan, and you didn’t HAVE to go to a private college which required you to get that $100,000 in debt. And hey, once you were in college, you could’ve used YOUR brain to think about the the debt that YOU were getting and signing off on, and YOU could have chosen a career path that could’ve led to a position where YOU wouldn’t be complaining about debt. I’m not saying student debt isn’t a real problem, but, and I say this un-sarcastically having read your entire piece YOU ARE NOT A STARVING CHILD IN AFRICA OR AMERICA FOR THAT MATTER. This is just sad. The very struggling-twentysomething lifestyle you complain about IS your professional livelihood. It’s a pathetic duality. You can’t be a freelance writer living in suburban Oklahoma, even though you could live about ten times cheaper, literally. But they look at freaks weird at the mall, so there’s that.

    • Aria

      …I hate when people immediately respond to any kind of complaint with “YOU ARE NOT A STARVING KID IN AFRICA- GETOVERIT”.

      • Moosa


    • Julia

      I enjoyed the article, but see your point as well. You could choose a state school over private. You could extend schooling longer in order to hold a job and pay for the bills. There are ways around the massive debt, such as not choosing the private institution based on it’s reputation.

      Additionally – speaking of education: can we talk about how fucked up it is that teacher’s get paid pennies to guide young minds toward their future higher paying jobs? No doctor/lawyer/politician got to where he/she is without a hoard of underpaid teachers slaving thanklessly away for years! I’m lucky enough to teach in a state with good salaries, but many states have starting salaries of high $20,000-low $30,000. That is absurd!

  • Molls

    THIS IS LITERALLY HOW I FEEL EVERY DAY. I have no idea why I spent so much money on school, I feel like we’re all screwed and I’m scared to death about all of it. What do we doooooooo??

  • S

    Ew. While this is obviously well written, the idea that you put the word “privileged” in quotes irks me to no end and pretty much destroys this entire article. You use language that alludes to a radical understanding on power and oppression, but downplaying an analysis on white/male/etc privilege only serves to promote and preserve the “system” to which you attribute fault. It’s the kind of move that works to invalidate the positions of those of us who strive for personal accountability. It isn’t white-ness or male-ness (or cis-ness, abled-ness, etc) that are inherently a problem, it’s the unwillingness to realize and challenge the social privileges that one who possesses them, or passes as possessing them, is awarded based on those traits at the cost of those who don’t. This article lacks that understanding. It’s unfortunate, because your voice is strong.

    • Aria


    • sheeni


    • j


    • Arbie

      True. I loved everything about this article until the privilege part. While I understand where she’s coming from (many people would rather scream ‘check your privilege!’ at each other than actively understanding each other/working out a solution to problems), I think it needed to be clarified that it is an important concept that people should be able to grasp.

  • Lyu

    This is so applicable to the way our generation thinks. I agree– I hate that ~12% that comes out of my paycheck each month, but believe it or not, there are worse problems than paying for Social Security, or choosing an $100K education. And though I’m not one to generalize a continent, I think most countries in Africa have bigger problems.

  • Samuel

    I really had to fight past the first paragraph because it was one enormous sentence that I am still unable to tell if it’s grammatically correct or not because I kept getting lost.

    • ABA

      And of course as soon as I finish reading this, I scroll down to see an ad for St. Jude Children’s Hospital with a picture of a little girl with cancer/no hair…

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