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What Scares You, Gen Y?



This October, we thought long and hard about what scares us.

Like really, truly scares us. We’re talking palm sweating, skin prickling, hair-standing-on-end fear; the kind of panic and all-consuming dread that drains your face of color and sends a chill trickling down your spine.

We’re not referring to the immobilizing fear you felt after watching The Ring for the first time. Nor the heart-thumping anxiety that gave rise to your run, jump and hope-the-monsters-don’t-eat-me approach to getting into bed.

We’re talking about the omnipresent, resilient fear that lives in your bank account. The fear that’s brewed in a cauldron atop Capitol Hill; a potent potion calling for the hopes, dreams and dollars of well-intentioned college students.

This Halloween, we took a closer look at what real fear looks like in the eyes of America’s overeducated and underemployed generation – ghosts, ghouls and goblins not included. We asked colleges students and GenFKD Fellows the vulnerable and often daunting question, “What scares you?”


Valerie Cateriano, James Madison University Fellow


“I’m afraid of determining how I’m going to finish paying for college. Figuring out all of the different types of loans – government, private, as well as what makes a loan ‘good,’ – is confusing and scary.”


Kevin Gomez, Florida State University Fellow


“Our next president scares me. There’s nothing comforting about how polarized we’ve become with our politics.”


Ali Hertog, University of Central Florida Fellow


“I’m terrified of student loans. I’ve worked 40 to 50 hour weeks on top of being a full time student, just to avoid them. I’m walking out of this classroom and into a job market that’s every man and woman for his or herself. Starting a career isn’t just about following your passions anymore, and I think that’s a bit scary.”


Tony Piccioni, Ohio University Fellow


“Finding my first full-time job after graduation scares me. It’s not just the idea of finding a job – but finding a job I think I deserve and that will challenge me. You put in four years of hard work, and could be forced to scrape by with a low paying and dissatisfying profession. Maybe the most horrific thing of all is not knowing where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing, or if it will all work out.”


Anna Owens, NC State University Fellow

“I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find a job after graduation. Or at least one that allows me to save money, pay off my student loans and have a life.”


Vadic Patel, University of Akron Fellow


“The fact that students still don’t understand that their student loans aren’t free money scares me. Not to mention the fact that our 2016 presidential candidates don’t address the issues pertaining to students, when we’re the future leaders of America.”


Isabelle Sawhney, University of Florida Fellow


“I’m afraid of my law school tuition and how much more debt I’ll have to pay off when I finally graduate.”


These common fears, concerns and anxieties paint a harsh picture of our reality while communicating a powerful message for 2016. By asking this one simple question, we can begin to understand our wants, needs, hopes, dreams and fears as a generation and how they pertain to our political and economic identities.

So, what scares you? When you think about your future, the future of our country, the future of the world – what concerns and questions spring to mind?

Share your answers in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook. Happy Halloween!


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