Hear me out on this, because a fair amount is not your fault….but it is your responsibility and your burden to carry. And that is the part I want to focus on. And this isn’t exclusively for Millennials and Gen Zer’, there are plenty of my fellow Gen Xer’s that this blog post is applicable for as well.
First though, a brief history of how we got here. Every generation’s parents strive to provide a better life for their children then they had. Go back a little ways in our history and you’ll find life very different than it is today. A family had many children because A. the child mortality rate was very high and B. because more workers were needed on the farm. This was a hard life, and the average age of death in the mid 1800’s was about 35. Thirty five! That is not a long life, and again it was full of hardships. Fast forward to after the modern Industrial Revolution (1920’s) and things improved for many. Lifespan increased to about 55 years, and technology like refrigeration and other things made life more comfortable as well.
When you look at today, we have every convenience at our fingertips. Life is easy, and the most recent generations have known little struggle. That is the goal of the parents in some ways, but what is being lost along the way is the resiliency necessary for life. EVERY life has its rough patches, its dark days. This is unavoidable; what matters is how you deal with it. When you have no “practice” in your life because your parents moved every obstacle for you, and then suddenly you are on your own to deal with things, the transition into adult life becomes much harder. Suddenly you don’t get things just because you want them like you used to. If you have ever had a parent argue with a teacher on your behalf about a grade, this is the kind of thing I am talking about. Your boss is not going to even take a call from your parents, let alone discuss whether or not he was mean to you.
Here is the thing…
You may be a PRODUCT of this environment, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a Victim of it.
Now, reversing years of learned habits is not going be easy, but I can promise you it is essential. If you get offended easily, disheartened when your first try at something doesn’t yield the results you want, etc., then maybe the outside world is not for you. If you think things like getting a failing grade in a class, or even your first ever “B” is the end of the world, your life is going to be hard. No one has ever asked me for my GPA in a job interview. If you think bigger things like the results of a Presidential election are going to make or break your life, you are sadly mistaken. I have been on this planet for 50 years, and there is not one single time when I can pinpoint that what happened in the White House had a direct impact on what happened at my house. Not once. Yes, policies change and the economy ebbs and flows, but I can honestly say that this is not going to make or break me. If it truly did, people who CLAIMED that they were going to leave the U.S. when Trump got elected, or didn’t get reelected would actually move to another country. No one has…
YOU LIVE IN THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Your grandfathers and great grandfathers fought wars and many of them died for the freedoms and luxuries that you take for granted today. NEVER forget that. In some ways, you owe your gratitude to that former generation. You can pay them back by making the most of the life you have been given, and the opportunities that are afforded to you. Despite what you may hear or are being taught, this country was not founded on racism, hate, or anything else. It is unfair to hold the past accountable for their sins based on what we know today. Yes, bad things were done, people were oppressed and abused. But to think that we should try to erase the past to “make up” for these things is nuts. You need to keep the reminders around to PREVENT a repeat of this. Example: When the “CHOP” zone got established in Seattle, the new people in charge built walls, created a police force, and started to (unknowingly?) follow the same patterns of regular society outside the CHOP zone. We, as imperfect humans, are destined to repeat history if were are unaware of it.
So…on to how to reverse this problem that was, again, somewhat handed you. You didn’t ask for the life you’ve led, it just happened. BUT, you need to understand that feeling like a victim only reinforces this issue. You need to draw a line in the sand and say to yourself and to the world “I am my own person from this point forward”. This doesn’t mean disowning your family, or pointing fingers at your parents for “making” you entitled. FORGET ALL OF THAT STUFF… start clean, right now. Map out a plan to change your mentality and your attitude about life to help ensure you can and will lead a most happy life moving forward. I am telling you, I have no doubt your life will be better off very soon if you do this. Here is what that can look like:
DEVELOP PATIENCE yes, you grew up in an instant gratification lifestyle, but the real world doesn’t work that way. You don’t get a corner office and six figures to start your career, you END UP there after years of hard work. Changes jobs doesn’t solve that problem either, EVERY company operates this way.
CHOOSE THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT If you grew up in a life where much was handed to you, and your parents cleared a path for you for most things you did, you need some resiliency training. Play sports, take up yoga, lift weights, learn to play an instrument; all of these things are difficult and take time to see results and get good at. THAT IS LIFE…use these activities to train your mind accordingly.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE There is a lot of information that your parents and grandparents try to impact to you with the best of intentions. Some of it is very valid, like saving money for the future. Some of it is very antiquated, like you have to go to college to get a good job. The definition of a “good job” was one that paid the bills, had a retirement plan, and offered you a gold watch after fifty years of service at the same company. Fifty years! Can you imagine working at the same company doing the same thing(s) for fifty years? Today’s world, and certainly the future, does not lend itself to this kind of thinking.
DO RISKY STUFF WHEN YOUNGER I am not talking about going to Vegas and betting all of your money on one hand of blackjack. I am talking about saving up the money and then traveling the world for a year. Ride a motorcycle across Canada, backpack through Europe, go to Australia. If you think you will have the chance to do this later in life, you’re probably mistaken. Add a spouse, a house and a couple of kids into the mix and you are greatly limited in your freedoms to do such things. you are going to work your whole life, don’t be in a huge hurry to get locked into a career immediately.
DON’T THINK YOUR JOB OR YOUR BANK ACCOUNT DEFINES YOU This is a big one, and with the exposure to social media that we all have these days, it seems like you are falling behind if you don’t take the kids to Disneyland every year, or you go party in Ibiza with all the other cool kids. First and foremost, figure out what you really want to do, not just what everyone else is doing. I have zero desire to go to Ibiza, or I should say I have a hundred other places I want to go first. Most of my personal choices of destinations revolve around MY favorite past time, which is fly-fishing. I don’t care what everyone else wants to do in their spare time, I want to go fly-fishing. I don’t need a million dollars in the bank to do the things I treasure the most. In fact the work to get and/or keep a mill in the bank is probably going to prohibit me from doing as much fly-fishing as I want to. The cost of being rich is higher than most people ever consider. You sacrifice time away from family, loved ones, your passions and more, just to fill the bank account. If you think the dollar signs will make you happy, you are mistaken.
THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTSSorry to be the one to break it to you, but this old adage is true. You have to work, hard, for everything. Not only is this reality, but if it wasn’t, none of the things you achieve on your own would have any real disposable feel to them. The things you earn will provide a much deeper and more satisfying feel to them.
You are the only one who is responsible for your own life and your own happiness. You have to start taking charge of this now, and putting steps in place to walk that path. You are not ruined, broken, or unusually challenged; your life is your life. there is ALWAYS someone who has it worse that you do, so suck it up cupcake. Own your shit, and don’t blame your parents. They did the best they could with what they have. You didn’t come with an instruction book when you were born, so give them a break. Chart your own path, put in the work, and get where you want to go. EARN your wins, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.