has been eight years since the Great Recession, and the current economic crisis has become a permanent state of exception. Early this month, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released a damning report on prospects for young adults around the world. The condensed version is that we don’t have many.

For the so-called millennials, born between 1980 and 1994 and hitting adulthood just as the teeth of a global economic crisis closed around a technological revolution, the old “markers of adulthood” – secure paid work, living independently of your parents, buying a house, settling down, having children – are a vanishing dream.

It has been nearly six years since the student protests that preceded the Occupy movement. In 2011, the rallying cry around the world was the pained, almost pitiful question: “Where’s our future?” The future that had been stolen was a story – in this case, the middle-class fairy tale that if you just work hard, keep your head down and make good choices, you’ll get a decent job and be able to raise a family, and possibly have enough left over for a holiday somewhere where they grill fresh-caught sardines on the beach. I read about that once in the Guardian’s Life and Style section, and it sounded nice.

This generational conversation is, of course, deeply middle class. The most middle-class thing about it is the way it tries to avoid the fact that it’s all about the existential angst of being middle class.

It’s about expectations. Specifically, it’s about the chasm between people’s expectations and their concrete prospects. And because it’s about expectations, it is less relevant both to those who grew up learning not to hope for too much and to those who grew up expecting to inherit a small property empire. Those in between, however, still make up the bulk of the population, and it’s worth discussing their mercurial collective politics openly.

Most of the middle-class and working-class millennials I know are stuck in a sort of weary holding pattern, moving from one temporary or part-time job to the next, one cheap flatshare to the next. Over time, they have realised that this holding pattern will not let go any time soon.

Anxiety has become the defining disorder of our generation. My own anxiety disorder is as much of a millennial accessory as my smartphone and my skinny jeans. In the past five years, because of the staggering rises in rent, I’ve lived in eight different house-shares in London, not including extended periods of couch-surfing and a few weeks when I moved back in with my dad. I’ve filed many of these columns from the road, or from temporary, mould-infested bedrooms where I hadn’t even bothered to unpack. I’m almost 30 and I’ve never owned a stick of furniture, apart from a second-hand futon I got on Freecycle in 2009 and promptly had to abandon in the next move.