Today I want to discuss with you an article I read in the Huffington Post entitled “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy”.
Before I get started, you should know that “Generation Y” is labeled in this article as those who were born in the late 1970s to the mid 1990s. I think that’s a pretty large group…but that’s the group the author is discussing. They start out by stating that the reason Gen Y’s are unhappy is because when you look at the following equation, their expectations exceed their reality, therefore causing unhappiness:
The author lists 3 specific problems with Gen Y’s:
1. They are wildly ambitious and have been told their whole lives how “special” they are. Not necessarily a bad thing fundamentally but it’s lead to the second problem.
2. They are delusional (aka unrealistic expectations). They expect their ambition and “specialness” to produce results immediately that their parents earned with years of hard work.
3. They are taunted. Everywhere we turn, we see people on social media exaggerating their successes and not mentioning their failures. When we look at our own lives, it’s hard not to compare our reality to their social media life and feel like we’re not keeping up with our peers.
Oh my gosh. I have seen this so much not only in the lives of those around me, but also in my former job. I was raised in a home where we were taught to work hard inside and outside the home. We did chores because we all live in the house and we take pride in our home, so we want it to be clean and presentable. Homework came first and we were expected to do our very best at all times. As soon as we were 16 years old, we were expected to always have a job. I have worked consistently since I was 14 and before that I was babysitting for friends and neighbors as early as 10 years old. My parents taught me to be a hard worker! This is not a trait I have seen in quite a few of my peers throughout my life. They expect things to be handed to them and that they “deserve” it. Just because. That’s not how life works. You have to (and should have to!) work for the things you want. How can you really learn and grow and progress if you don’t have to do the work to get there? What do you learn by having things handed to you your whole life? Nothing. Well, one thing. You learn that you can be lazy. Not exactly the best lesson out there.
My former job just prior to my current one was as the program coordinator over new student orientation at one of the in state universities. I was in charge of new student orientation and had a staff of about 40ish students who I supervised. Through my time in that position, I saw many examples of the entitled Gen Y’s this article portrays. I also interacted with parents (aka was yelled at by parents) who thought their kids were the brightest star in the sky and there was nothing they could do wrong. Why does their child have to attend an orientation? (because that’s such a foreign concept) Their kid can figure everything out on their own! Why does their child have to take that class?? They’re too smart for that. The advisor doesn’t know anything! We already knew everything there is to know about everything….Yeah. Parents are awesome examples sometimes. It just made me so sad for their students. Their kid had no chance! Of course they’re going to turn out the way that they did (entitled and delusional) with parents who are constantly giving them gold stars and feeding them diamonds for breakfast.
Even though I wasn’t raised this way, I was still affected by this mentality. Participation certificates or awards were given to every child who showed up to whatever sport/activity you participated in. Friends of mine were moved out of the “strict” teacher’s class, because it might damage their self esteem. (note: I LOVED the “strict” teachers. I was such a nerd) We were all told how special/unique/amazing we were. We could take on the world and do anything we wanted to do, no matter what! The world is our oyster, the sky is the limit! We deserve it! Because we showed up…to life. Not because we did the hard work to get there.
Now look at what we’re left with. Snotty college freshmen who think they’re too good for a normal college orientation, parents who expect their kids to be able to finish college in two years and be doctors by time they’re 23, new college graduates who are too good for starter jobs and expect to snatch up an amazing, high paying job the moment they graduate, selfish human beings with no work ethic who are hard to work with and don’t contribute to their community.
So how do we end this cycle? I really liked the article’s suggestions:
1) Stay wildly ambitious. This isn’t a bad thing! It’s wonderful! But you have to be willing to do the work to get to where you want to be.
2) Stop thinking that you’re special. My dad used to like to say “You’re unique….just like everyone else”. I guess you could say I was raised being told that I’m not special. haha But not in a bad way! My parents wanted to raise people who not be self centered or think they were better than their fellow humans. I think that’s a good thing!
3) Ignore everyone else. I have to admit that this one is hard for me. It’s really difficult when you’re bombarded every day with the side of people’s lives that they choose to show the social media world. That friend just got a great job, that other one bought a car, that friend and her husband bought a house, and that other ones is having a baby. What the heck have I been doing with my life?! Why am I not there yet? But you know what? My life is not their life! We’re all on our own life paths and we’ll all get where we’re going in our own way. I think that’s amazing. It’s hard sometimes when things don’t seem to be going your way…but beautiful nonetheless.
Of course I’m not saying everyone born in that time frame fits this stereotype. But you have to admit, this is a broad problem across the board. I think there’s an aspect of this “Gen Y” that we can all learn from. Do we feel entitled for no reason whatsoever? Do we let the social media lives people portray affect our happiness in regards to our own lives? Are we doing the very best we can in school, work, church, etc? Where can we develop ourselves and become better people?
The whole point of the article is that this mind set is leading to unhappiness. So let’s do what we need to in order to fix this and be happy! People, let’s choose to be happy, in whatever part of life we’re in or whatever generation we come from. I know this is hard sometimes and it’s definitely a lesson I have to keep relearning. But it’s about having realistic expectations and then doing the best we can.
I’m ready for Generation Y to be the generation that yes, is so ambitious and really does think the sky is the limit and is willing to work for their goals! I want us to be known for having a good sense of self worth and being confident (not cocky)! Generation Y really does have so much potential. We really do have so much great potential! It’s how we choose to use the mentality we’ve been given that will determine our success, in whatever way we measure success in our own lives.
Please don’t think that I think I am perfect or totally exempt from the stereotype of this generation. I am sooo far from it! I just really found this article fascinating and wanted to share my thoughts on it with you. I’d love to hear what you think, too!
Do you think this Generation Y mind set is as common as these articles make it seem?
Do you think you fit any part of the Gen Y description? (if you are a Gen Y of course)