How many times have you abruptly quit a job because they had the audacity to not give you the long-weekend you requested off? Or heartlessly dumped a boyfriend because he just wasn’t quite up to your standards? Maybe you’ve even cut-off a friend, after she committed numerous outrageous offenses, such as not showing up to your birthday (omg!), disagreeing with your opinion one too many times, or outwardly expressing her dislike of your boyfriend.
What was your inner-dialogue in the above situations? As you were typing out your brief breakup text, were your insensitive words fueled by the indignation that he didn’t get you the six-month anniversary gift you expected? When you quit your job five days before the long weekend, did you feel no remorse for dumping your workload onto some unsuspecting employee because “you booked it off ages ago!”
Millennials have obtained the reputation as the bratty, smart-alecky, snot-nosed kid among the generations. And although I will argue until I’m blue in the face that our generation is not “wasted”, as many people believe, I’ve seen many of us live up to what we are accused of: that we are narcissistic, lazy and entitled. Sometimes even my stubborn motor-mouth sputters and stalls when faced with the evidence presented to me by my Millennial-hating opponents.
So where did this indulged mindset come from? Obviously there are a million suggested reasons, all of which have merit, but here is one of my best guesses: Because so many of us grew up with parents, teachers and mentors constantly chirping cheerily into our unknowing ears “You can do anything you want!”, “Don’t settle for anything less than the very best!” and “You deserve the world!”
I call bullshit.
That kind of fairytale brainwashing has drowned our generation in false beliefs and unrealistic expectations, while steadfastly ignoring the cold, hard realities of life.
I grew up with the absolute best parents. They were constantly reminding me how special I was, how wonderful, how I could do anything I set my mind to, the sky was the limit!! I am so grateful to them for instilling confidence in my capabilities. However, their well-intended reinforcement had some unforeseen and unintended consequences. Burned into my being is the tendency to get angry, and then flee, simply when things stop going completely my way. I construct a story in my head as to how I expect a situation to go, and when it doesn’t go exactly in the way I imagine, my initial response is outrage. Pure, concentrated, and completely short-sighted outrage.
Short-sighted because, contrary to my disillusioned belief, I am not a princess, and this is not a fairytale. This is real life, and things are never going to go off without a hitch.
Short-sighted because, for everything to always go “my way” means that it is constantly going against the “way” of another person. An entire generation of humans expecting things to unfold only in their favour is simply not feasible.
Short-sighted because, if everything always went perfectly, I simply wouldn’t grow. There would be no learning from mistakes, no character built on tough times, and no strength born out of circumstance.
Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying – I am ALL for standards. As I stated earlier, I grew up with my parents lovingly and relentlessly reiterating the above one-liners and as a result, I harbour a nugget of unbreakable confidence in myself. I’m not going to put up with bullshit and I am not going to lie down dead when I am being treated poorly. However, my struggle (and I believe many Millennial’s struggle) lies in identifying where our standards mutate into unfounded and baseless expectations.
The point I am trying to make is that there seems to be a gap in our Millennial reality: dreams so huge, but without the work ethic to back it up. Quitting something so easily, whether it be a job, boyfriend or friend, without having even given it a chance.
At this point of this post, I am pretty much foaming at the mouth with BWG (basic white girl) quotes:
“Nothing worth having comes easy!”
“What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you!”
“Chin up, princess, or the crown slips!”
…. Woops. That last one just snuck in there. Sorry -my self-absorbed Millennial entitlement leaks out sometimes.
Of course we should always try our best, of course we should set goals so big they scare us a little and of course we shouldn’t stick with a fuckboy in the name of perseverance. But a goal without a plan is just a wish, and a plan without action is just a dream (I’ll stop soon, I swear, I’m sure you’ve reached your white girl inspirational quote limit). Success in it’s various forms takes time and work, it doesn’t simply materialize because we think we deserve it. Sometimes we have to work a bit harder, push through some shitty jobs, endure rough patches in our relationships to get to the promised “everything and anything we want” slogan of our childhood.
All of the things and relationships our parents and mentors have obtained and built, they have earned, through hard work, perseverance and unrelenting dedication. That dream job is not going to be handed to us on a silver platter, and it isn’t necessarily going to come with a six-figure starting salary. A 20-year friendship or marriage is also going to go through ups and downs, ebbs and flows.
Dream big and work your ass off to make that dream come true. We all have the potential to live our best life, whatever that may look like… but we are not entitled to it simply because we were born on this planet. I just hope our generation figures it out before we’re forty and still living in our parents basement, tossing our most recent 6-month attempt at a relationship in the trash for no reason.
Standards are paramount and goals are necessary. Entitlement is not.