get up and go!

You’ve trained for years; your skills on the road live up to your credentials on paper. Your car is a thing of beauty: it boasts smooth new tires; aerodynamic fins and spoilers; and shiny body panels adorned with multicolored decals. Getting here took a lot of time and cost a lot of money. You’re ready to roar out there and show everybody what you’re made of!

Other vehicles pull up near yours as the excitement of race time nears. But something’s not right. The other drivers tower above you in jacked-up trucks. The engines rumble gracelessly. You look around and notice that what you assumed would be a groomed surface is actually a dusty expanse. This isn’t the track race you meant to compete in. This is a demolition derby.

Monster Truck Big_foot

Welcome to life as a Millennial. It seemed like we’d been receiving invective left and right until new voices rose as loud and clear as our detractors’. (Thanks, Matt Bors, Greg Rachke, Telefonica, and others I just haven’t found yet.)

Whether you’re one of the elders who finds Millennials infuriating or one of the “failed launches” the elders love to disdain, here’s the thing. The job market isn’t what we thought it would be. The people who coaxed us into college with promises of easy-to-pay loans and viable jobs didn’t necessarily mean to set us up for the disappointment we face. But now we’re here, sleek and shiny in a world too rough-and-tumble for our taste, so let’s make the most of it.

The skills we devoted ourselves to mastering are still assets, even if we have to learn flexibility in how we apply them. Instead of defining ourselves narrowly—“I have a theatre degree therefore I will be an actor!”—we can be adaptive—“I have a theatre degree which has put me in contact with dozens of creative people, taught me a great deal about human nature, and given me practice in presenting myself with poise and persuasiveness.” What does that translate to, job-wise? The hospitality industry? Copy-writing? Dare I say it…retail? Yeah, okay, we’re all mad that the entry-level jobs don’t exactly line up with our impressive skill sets. And we’re truly steamed that the pay is paltry compared to the salary projections we were shown when we set course toward a “real job.”

But I’m with the naysayers in thinking that we need to get over ourselves in that regard. It’s okay that we’re taken by surprise. It’s not okay to sit there complaining about it, or, as John Mayer put it, “waiting on the world to change.” If you’re reading this in Mom and Dad’s basement, I’m okay with that as long as you’re not feeling sorry for yourself. As long as you’re not planning to live there until you’re forty. As long as you’re still game to grab the steering wheel and at least make a go of it, even if it’s a bumpier ride than you bargained for.

More to come on this….

In the meantime, elders weigh in, but if you got your talking points from TIME I’m not going to publish your comment. We already know what the article says, okay? Millennials, how are you adapting to survive in this unfamiliar landscape?

[image “Monster truck: BigFoot” taken by Jot Powers 10/2004, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license {cc-by-sa-2.0}]