Generation Y: From the Eyes of a Gen Y

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:

2013-09-15-Geny2

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.

Im-Special

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.

baby-graduation-cap

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.

customer-service-generation-y

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) 

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17 thoughts on “Generation Y: From the Eyes of a Gen Y

  1. “They expect things to be handed to them and that they “deserve” it.” <— YES. I absolutely LOVED reading this article. I've grown up as a Gen Y (GYSPY lol) and can completely attest to everything in this article, although not personally. Like you, I've worked since a young age and was always taught the importance of hard work. I need to WORK for what I want. I was mowing my dad's lawn when I was 10 just to get $10 to buy a new shirt I wanted. I grew up in a privileged area and most of my friends had rich parents, but I was the exception. I was so discouraged at times because they could simply ask and receive and for me, this simply wasn't the case. However, I'm about to graduate college in December (a semester early) and half of those "rich/popular" friends of mine didn't even attend college because they always had a fall back plan. So while it sucked at the time, I wouldn't trade my values and work ethic for anything in this world, especially in a day & age where everyone feels so entitled to everything.

  2. The sad part is the next generation (those I am teaching right now) are even worse because of their parents. This year alone I have had three parents complain to the principal that my expectations for their child are too high. I should not be able to make them miss something in order to make up homework that wasn’t done at home. I even got in trouble for writing “nice try” on a students multiplication timing when they didn’t pass instead of writing “great job.” Last year when I contacted a mom about my concern for her student and his progress her only response was “As long as he is having fun, he is doing ok.”

  3. I’ve seen this attitude, too. The generation I was born in was labeled with two generational labels–we (my siblings and I) were on the cusp of both groups, supposedly (I jokingly refer to us as “the forgotten generation”). Anyways, we had to work hard for what we wanted; we had jobs during high school and college; we bought our own cars; etc. And, I have to say I’ve worked with both types of younger people–those who wonder why they have to make photocopies (that is, it’s “beneath them”), and those who do make the photocopies. Don’t give up hope yet! Sometimes it takes some people a few more years to mature.

  4. I really don’t understand why these “generations” are clumped into such large groups. I personally think that these traits can actually apply to almost anyone under the age of 50 these days. What I really hate about articles like that is that they place the blame on the generation instead of the adults that were responsible for raising them. If a child is lead to grow up that way, it’s most definitely in my opinion not their fault or doing.

    I think the reason articles like that target that “generation” is because we are the ones willing enough to utilize new technology. Your grandma is not freaking out over Instagram pictures because she’s either so old that she is unteachable or unwilling to learn about new technologies. This generation just happened to grow up with new technology, making it easier for them to use it and be affected by social media. Which is, again, not their fault.

  5. I read this article yesterday too and was both happy and sad that it was posted. Happy because it calls attention to a problem and attitude that I’ve seen amongst my peers for a long time, but sad because I’m a member of that generation, and not all of us are as described.

    I grew up similar to you, working hard inside and outside of the home and having held a job since I was 14. I’m a child of divorced parents (since I was 2), and one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with is recognizing the difference between how my parents raised me and how they’re raising my siblings. It’s frustrating not because I resent that I didn’t have the things my sisters do, but because I never would have been allowed to get away with the kinds of behavior that they do. I’m so thankful for how I was raised and I know that it played a huge part in shaping me to be the person I am today. I want those same lessons and values instilled in others as well – something I don’t see as often anymore.

  6. As someone that hires and interviews people for a job – I totally agree – people these days are lazy and simply do not want to work, I am so thankful my parents taught me the value of working hard, and not having things handed to me – I just hope that I am instilling those same principals in my children

  7. These articles irk me. They’re so generic, and we see them every time a new generation enters the workforce. Heck, I’m guilty of saying it about my students, and they’re still only 13! But I would like to see less coddling and hovering from everyone; I think once you learn how to fail and recuperate well, you’re ready for life!

  8. So interesting. I think you might be preaching to the choir here! 🙂 This actually goes along with a different article that I read recently about how parents and non-parents alike love to criticize other peoples’ parenting. People love to label the whole group based on all the bad examples they’ve seen. Then they turn around say, “It never used to be that way! What is happening to everybody?” But in reality, they are probably just forgetting about the low-achievers from their generation. And the common traits between them may differ slightly due to technological and societal differences. My point is, there are always going to be people who, for whatever reason, don’t work very hard! Sad, but true.

  9. Being a teacher, I see this way too frequently. Instead of the kids being the blame, it’s the teacher’s fault. Instead of the kids having to do the work and put forth the effort, it’s the teacher’s fault for making the homework hard. I really don’t like how everyone is “special” either because it’s a cover up and gets you into more trouble. parents who do everything for their kids is really frustrating. They then let their kids grow up thinking they are entitled to everything they want! It just ends up with more disaster than good.

  10. I agree with this article! I actually saw a lot of this when I was a student teacher in 2 wealthy school districts. Lots of kids did a half-ass job on work, complained to their parents about a bad grade, and then their parents came in to yell at us over it. I’m kind of scared for our future if this is how 3rd graders are now!

  11. I agree with the article. It is sad that that is how these children were brought up (raised) to think this way, that they are entitled to something and that they shouldn’t have to work for it. I was not raised this way and I am considered part of the Generation Y group. My parents raised me to be independent, to work hard for what you want in life, not to give up and my Dad’s famous line that I heard throughout childhood and even now to this day, “Call 1-800-WHOCARES”. He was tough, but wanted me to be tough and wanted me to work hard for what ever I wanted to achieve. Have a good weekend 🙂

  12. I’ve seen this article posted and discussed several times over the last couple days. It left me super perplexed as to what generation the author is actually talking about. The complaints are the laundry list complaints about Gen Y, or Millenials. However, the author defines this group as people born between the 1970s and mid 1990s? Usually Gen X is the group born in the mid-60s to the early 80s and Millenials start in 1982 and go through 2004. Anyone else find this odd?

  13. I read articles about Gen Y like this all the time and I always find myself nodding with everything they say. It’s so hard to find the balance between “I deserve the best/to live my dreams/to achieve what I want” and “I am NOT special”. Also, what I agree most with is the thing about fantasizing about other people’s lives because of facebook. “Don’t compare your life story to someone else’s highlight reel”

  14. I just read this article because my sister-in-law shared it. It was pretty thought-provoking. I’m a ’75 birthday and I think I may have just missed this (though I see bits and pieces of it in me)… but I do see it in the students I teach. My biggest concern, of course, is my own kids. What generation are they becoming? Are my boys entitled? Will they think they can HAVE without DOING.
    Sheesh.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

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