I don’t know if I can call my new-found agreement on the Gen-Y issues a matter of hindsight. Technically, I am still Gen-Y and still in my twenties… and still somewhat delusional and spoilt. However, I’m starting to give my more passionate friends a slight eye roll when they get overly-defensive regarding opinions our elders impose about our behaviour and supposed self-entitled mindsets.
The following thoughts have been developed after many humourous and serious debates following the viral article “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy” – a cute and funny, non-journalistic report of an opinion summarizing one possible reason a certain population of youngsters seem unsatisfied with life. And this would be my not so funny, non-journalistic report of an opinion summarizing why these unhappy youngsters get so justifiably defensive about it (as I once did.)
I think what helped me calm down about the whole topic was a few key realizations (not all of which I can take credit for – some smart cookies in my life helped me work these out.)
# 1. Baby boomers and Gen X are not glowing role models. They made plenty of mistakes on top of all their glorious effort. While we can appreciate the hard work and sentiment of their generations, it’s important to remember they didn’t do it perfectly. With that, we bring to the world a new passion and outlook, and we won’t do it perfectly either. But we will still be contributing to the overall growth of the world – positively and through lessons learned from our mistakes.
#2. Grandparents and parents always think younger generations are going to ruin the world as they know it. And they are wrong. Just as their grandparents and parents were wrong. Yes, we will leave small negative footprints on this planet along with the positive development from our time, but all I have to do is point out Hiroshima and the 2008 Financial Meltdown and those older generations can no longer argue they’ve not left significant negative impacts. (I mean this as an opposition to all the wonderful things they’ve brought to the planet and done for our lives, which is plentiful.)
#3. We don’t live in the same economic and social make-up as previous generations, and with such we are adapting to the new ones (hey, guess what – just as our grandparents and parents did!) And if we face it - instead of complaining about how unfair and difficult it is all the time (and without being side-tracked by articles regarding how lazy and spoiled we are) – we will learn from it, grow from it, and come out succeeding with immense growth in wake of this economic mess our parents left. Sorry Mom and Dad, just pointing out the obvious.
#4. These articles are making generalizations about the largest population of youngsters who seem to be the most annoying and stand out. It’s like how we make extreme generalizations about a Asians being bad drivers – because nobody notices, comments or looks who is driving when there is a talented driver in front of them (which could very well be Asian.) In the same way, every time these stereotypical characteristics pop-up in a youngster, we notice. Yet nobody stops to point out the youth who have the hardworking, conscientious, reflective natures. If you get really defensive about the whole topic, it might be worth considering how many of these generalized traits actually apply to you. (Hey, only the truth can sting that terribly, right?)
#5. While we can blame the previous generations for why we have the mentality that we do, (they are not wrong; our generation does act lazy and spoilt in regards to careers and effort needed to achieve success, and it kind of is their fault we were raised this way,) that finger-pointing gets us nowhere. It’s just another excuse justifying our lack of effort to change our lives. If we really want to show them we are different - and that we can make a change in this world - then we need to take responsibility for who we are regardless of how we became this way. (Admittance is the first step, right?)
When I re-read the two articles I’ve posted previously on a similar topic, two specific points stood out that I don’t want to let go of.
#1. Our lack of self-efficacy: these “Problems-With-The- Gen-Y” style articles constantly tear down our belief in ourselves and our generations ability to create change. They steal our already fragile sense of self-worth and autonomy by painting us all with the same brush. Let me remind you - “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
#2. Dear previous generations: you can still help. Do not wash your hands of us just yet. You can still participate in the creation of who we are and how we behave by tackling the suffering and disappointment with us. Don’t stand back and tell us what we are doing is wrong; get your hands dirty and help us figure it out. Don’t claim you have never behaved this way; show empathy and remember how you worked your way out of it. Be a source of inspiration and motivation, not of discouragement and negativity. There are those of us just waiting for the right words to set us in motion towards creating a much, much better world…