We are a generation trying to adapt to a tumultuous world. Whether we care to admit it, the society and worldly challenges that await us after graduation are unpredictable. Are we, as Generation Y, adapting to this cut-throat environment, or are we burying our heads into the soft cotton of ignorance? This is about the rest of the world’s view of our generation. You know, the perception that has developed of the entitled 20-somethings and their over-inflated self esteems. The perception that young professionals are always demanding more and never appreciating what they have already. Work for something? No, it should be handed to us. Because we’re special.
Generation Y has been bombarded with the word ‘special’ since the day we spoke our first words. Remember that dance recital where you fell over? Don’t worry, you were given a ribbon for trying. What about that time you threw the baseball a little too far and the other team got two runs? You still got a trophy at the end of the season for participation.
From our first steps, our parents told us we were amazing, that the world was our oyster, and nobody could get in our way. We could be whatever we wanted, as long as we set our sights firmly on our goals. We were instilled with this unwavering sense of optimism for our incredible futures in a new, dynamic world. This was the supposed end of the era where you chose a major based on professional viability. This was supposed to be the golden age of the professional space as a creative hub of innovation and promise.
Then we got to college. We had to pay tuition. The rosy world view we held so dear disintegrated. We deal with student loan debt so large we can’t even begin to think about life after college without it. Shouldn’t our internship experience score us the greatest job after graduation? That indescribable quality that sets one candidate apart from another grows more elusive. Everyone is special. Seemingly everyone scored that great summer internship, ticked exotic travel off of their bucket list or took challenging courses.
As we get caught up in a world of instant gratification, we neglect to remember the endless hours of hard work required to achieve this millenial dream. Somewhere along the way, we forgot that our predecessors worked for decades before they entered a role with any kind of material success or recognition.
Social media only perpetuates the competition.You get home after class or work, take off your shoes and open your laptop. We go right to social media. Especially with Facebook, everyone has the opportunity to exaggerate how successful and happy they are. All people need to do is post a photo with a celebrity or in another enviable setting to spark intense jealousy.
Why is everyone else moving so much faster than me?
Older generations look at current 20- and 30-somethings and criticize our perspectives. We’re just snobby, entitled brats with no real perception of the world around us, right? While we like to think we have autonomously created ourselves and that we have made our own identities, there is no way to ignore how the world around us has affected the way we matured.
But are we entirely at fault here? From before we even became self-aware, our parents, our teachers and our popular culture inundated us with the belief that each and every one of us is unique and deserves the world. We all made snowflakes in elementary school to represent how each one of us is a special snowflake. We were told that there is a place just for us in the world.
One phrase, even, reminds us that “work” indicates something is wrong: “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
But that is not what the world is. The world does not conform to our needs, there are no reserved spots for us, and it is confusing. This is not the world that we were promised so many times in so many means. Humans are social creatures. We did not create our own self-images.
When children are reminded every day that they are unique and special and deserve a certain standard, what can you expect of them when reality is so different? In a way. we have been brainwashed into a delusional view, and now, the ones who first convinced us that we are entitled are those who are blaming us for feeling so.
We are so wired to believe that anyone can be the guy who invented Instagram. Our ideas are worth a billion dollars. We hear stories about scrappy hometown heroes that rose from the ashes and accomplished their dreams. We compare ourselves to business giants like Mark Zuckerberg without realizing he’s an outlier. These stories have become so ubiquitous that we begin to actually think that is the norm and that, in some way, we will follow a similar path. These stories play a part in our ravaging insecurities, displaying others’ successes while we still struggle to climb to the forefront of the limelight.
The generation gap between Generation Y and our parents is obvious, and everyone is too stubborn to put themselves in each other’s shoes. Paying your way through college 20 years ago is incomparable to today’s exorbitant tuition costs. Buying a house by 25 in 2013? It’s almost inconceivable.
So maybe not every one of us is exceptional, but that’s nearly impossible to accept cognitively. But we cannot lost sight of the fact that if we work hard, respect each other and maintain a realistic optimism, we can be exceptional. The next generation, the next group of people that will take over public office and the next Fortune 500 companies, has the power to overcome our idiosyncrasies. We just need some time at home after graduation to make enough money to survive in these times. Our worst enemy? Our own warped expectations. We, regardless of age or social standing, need to begin to gain a little bit more perspective, away from our online news feeds.