Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Talkin' bout my generation...

According to Hofstede's study, the USA ranks the highest in the world on individualism. Naturally, as an American, I feel this way, to the point that I am surprised that I can grouped into a category or be one that exhibits attributes of "a generation." This article proves how much I am wrong...how much I do fit in this category of "The Why-Worry Generation" or "Generation Me" as described in this article from The New York Times Magazine, May 30, 2010.
Photo above by Chris Searl.

Unfortunately, this article is not flattering to my generation: the people born between 1982-2002, but it's a reality check and I am glad I stumbled across this magazine at the doctor's office. Here things identified by the generation, quoted from the article.

1) Once described as “ 'the next great generation' — optimistic, idealistic and destined to do good ... have been depicted more recently by employers, professors and earnestly concerned mental-health experts as entitled whiners who have been spoiled by parents who overstoked their self-esteem, teachers who granted undeserved A’s and sports coaches who bestowed trophies on any player who showed up."

2) " A consensus has emerged that, psychologically, they’re a generation of basket cases...in short, a 'nation of wimps.' "
3) “Almost universally they want to find a job that’s not just a job but an expression of their identity, a form of self-fulfillment.”

4) "As they’ve entered adulthood, they have inspired a number of books on how unmanageable they are in the workplace, with their ubiquitous iPods, flip-flops and inability to take criticism."

4) Not only do they believe these perfect jobs exist, but today’s recent graduates also think they’re good enough to get them.

5) “They’re extraordinarily optimistic that life will work out for them,” Arnett says. “Everybody thinks bright days are ahead and eventually they will find that terrific job.”

6) And a somewhat positive characteristic:
"It may be that this resilience — this annoying yet admirable ability to stay positive in depressing and frightening times — has nothing to do with the parents. Perhaps it’s a result, as some longtime observers of this generation have suggested, of growing up in an era of almost unremitting ambient anxiety: school years spent in the shadow of Columbine, 9/11 and, lately, widespread parental job losses. Maybe chronic unease has simply raised this generation’s tolerance level for stress, leaving it uniquely well equipped to deal with uncertainty."
  (Photos credits:  The Cobra Snake)
AHH! I seem to fit most of these characteristics. However, I felt much more like this when I graduated high school. I went to a college-prep school where they lauded that if you make all A's, volunteer, do this do that for your resume, you can go ANYWHERE to college...get ANY scholarship. Or at least that's how I perceived the situation. Hmmm...that bubble burst quickly for me. I guess I felt entitled...but there were thousands of others like that out there...with better resumes, more AP classes.
 (me above, high school graduation, 2004. Now's not the time to talk about my weird tanning back then).

Now, post-grad (picture not available; I didn't walk!  No pomp nor circumstance for that one), I don't feel nearly as entitled as I did at 18; but, honestly,  I believe that the perfect job is out there...I want a job that will lead to self-fulfillment. How do you balance optimism and realism? Isn't the youth always optimistic? What makes us so different?

 I soon will have to start applying for "big-girl" jobs. I sure as hell am glad I read this before I hunt for jobs. Maybe it won't make me seem as much of an idiot. Let's hope...


  1. “Almost universally they want to find a job that’s not just a job but an expression of their identity, a form of self-fulfillment.” --- I'm sorry, did I miss something? Since when is this a bad thing, people!?! ;)

    very interesting article - if not a bit of a hasty generalization.

  2. Hmm, I was born before '82 but still identify with some of this. But living in NYC the past few years, especially after I hit 28, I would notice this quality to a much higher degree in all the young kids just coming to the city--so spoiled and feeling they were entitled. Reality checks are never pretty. Great post!


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