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While my parents were never yuppies, I most certainly am a Yeppie. A Yeppie is the type of person who "quits their job to go backpacking, are slow to commit to relationships and are idealistic but confused." "Yeppies are ambitious but confused and won't commit to anything unless they know it will bring them enduring happiness." I feel good to know that who I am comes with a name. Like that someone makes it acceptable, ok. It's amazing how labeling can do that -- but that's another conversation for another day.
They are twentysomething, ambitious and confused. And they won't commit to anything until they are certain it will bring them enduring happiness. Meet the 'Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers' - Yeppies, as anthropologists are calling them.

Research shows that today's graduates are increasingly adopting a 'browsing' approach to choosing jobs, relationships, homes and life-styles. Far from knuckling down like their parents' generation, they believe true personal fulfilment can only come after years of anguished experimentation.

'Unlike the yuppies of the Eighties ... today's young adults are less certain and less single-mindedly materialistic than their predecessors,' said social anthropologist Kate Fox, of the Social Issues Research Centre[].

'Yeppies are unsure how to achieve their ambitions so they experiment through a shopping-style approach, trying to find the perfect job, the ideal relationship and the most fulfilling lifestyle.'

They postpone big, life-altering decisions until they feel they have exhausted all their options. 'It will be increasingly regarded as normal for young people to continue "Life Shopping" well into their late twenties and thirties. The way things are going, by 2012 thirty will be the new twenty as the "official" age for transition to adulthood ....

In every sphere of life the younger generation appears happy to procrastinate. ...By 'trying on' a number of different jobs or career paths, they learn what they are good at and eventually discover who they are and what they want from work. They have the flexibility to change direction and move on when something does not work out, rather than settling for an unsatisfactory or unfulfilling job, the study suggests.

The twentysomethings use a 'mate shopping' approach to marriage. In 1971 the average man got married at 25 to a 23-year-old woman. By 2003 this had to increased to 31 for men and 29 for women.

In addition, since 1990 the average number of partners people in the 16 to 44 age group have is up from two to four for women and from four to six among men.

'What we are seeing is not aimless, random promiscuity,' Fox says. 'The majority still believe in marriage; they are just prepared to wait longer and, more important, to "try on" a number of relationships until they find the one that is right for them.'

They have been called the 'Peter Pan' generation because they never want to grow up. But Fox believes their reluctance to commit is a major shift in aspirations.

'The something Yeppies are searching for may well be unattainable,' ... 'But they have high - some would say unrealistic - expectations and they move from job to job, or from career path to career path, desperately seeking perfection.'

... 'We have high expectations of personal happiness, which I don't think my parents' generation had.'

See here. And a critique on my subconsciously chosen lifestyle here.

What can I say? I would agree with that description. Am I supposed to settle? There is always time in life to settle. And why go through life unless you are happy. Life is hard enough. Taking away contentment?

Now the notion of enduring happiness may be a problem. Searching for the ideal is great. I support that. Trying on jobs to make sure it’s something that you like, that you are good at, that is great. The people who know everything at 15 scare the hell out of me. What are they, pod people? Or do they just convince themselves that they are happy? Do they even know what it means to be fulfilled in life? Or are they just burdened by other expectations of who they are and what they should think. How stifling. I would rather wander around in darkness for a while and be sure that I really found the exit of the maze, and not just some random light in the middle of it. I think I deserve happiness – I feel bad for previous generations that didn’t think they deserved it.

And as for waiting to get married, I think there is a world of difference between 18 when you graduate from high school, and 22 when you graduate from college. Likewise. I think there is a world of difference between 23, when you are first out of college, and 28, when you are starting to become your own adult in the work world and have a bit of credibility behind you to stand on. I don’t think that the person you are at 18 has anythingto do with the person you are at 22, any more than it reflects who you will be at 28. Even if you are perfect with someone at 18, that doesn’t mean you will be perfect for them at 28. I think it’s smart to wait until you are fully developed to enter into something as serious as marriage. Hell, maybe if more people did that, the divorce rate would go down. It certainly can’t get any higher, can it??

But here’s where my problem comes in. By searching for some mysterious and amorphous ideal, this thing that I will just somehow “know” when I find, I sometimes think that I won’t accept anything that isn’t guaranteed. You see the problem, of course. Life doesn’t come with a guarantee. Maybe it’s not as much a search for perfection as just cowardice to take a chance? Additionally, sometimes when you are trying to exhaust all your options – is the grass greener over there? – you find out that not only isn’t it, but by “life shopping,” we returned what could have provided happiness if only we weren’t so restless. But we’ve lost that opportunity.


  • At 6:20 PM, Anonymous JasonB said…

    You know what's really interesting about this? From reading your blog for awhile now we are pretty different in how we handle life situations and social situations and stuff, but I would consider this "Yeppie" definition to fit me as well.

    Unlike Yuppies which are so much more easily stereotyped, there are many different ways to handle the experimental search for perfection and many ways to handle the postponement of life-altering decisions.

    I recently told my mother I was considering looking around the job market at some point this year. Nothing in stone, just a thought. She went nuts, said I was idealistic, I sohuld hold onto a solid job (as if any job these days is solid).

    Highlighted the difference between the baby boomers' hold on solid jobs and this generations more ... experimental view of jobs.

    Fascinating (even though I hate being labeled by a word. heh)

  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger Sarah said…

    I am most definitely a Yeppie, too. On the one hand, we don't want to settle, in terms of career and relationships. On the other hand, what if our expectations are so high, that we miss what was good for us, and then one day, it's too late?

    So yeah, I understand.


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