BY MADDIE BUCH
As Stephanie Armour captured us in a cheeky article in USAToday about Generation Y (of which I am a member), we’re young, smart, brash. We may wear flip-flops to the office or listen to iPods at our desk. We want to work, but we don’t want work to be our life. I would add onto this list, saying that we live life on the edge of our seats, love passionately, accept the things to which we cannot change and we hold people accountable if it can change. We ask questions and we do not take ‘no’ for an answer; we work hard and we get the job done in record time. For many of us, we hate to miss a holiday with our family, we volunteer our time and don’t take things for granted. We remember where we came from and always say ‘thank you’.
Growing up as a Generation Y kid, a Millennial, because I was born between 1980 and 2000 (1992 to be exact), I am part of a “very powerful 1.3 billion strong Generation.” We will forever be assumed to talk, text, e-mail, eat, breathe, and brush our teeth with our cell phones. We know all the shortcuts in all the video games because all we do is sit around, play games, and rot our brains all day. And it’s so obvious, through our representations in the commercial media system, that we MUST have the most expensive, most popular, best-of-the-best wardrobe out there because we are all spoiled, bratty rich kids.
So, why do you look at me like we’re all the same?
Well, I am part of this generation. I am here to tell you that this is an inaccurate representation of a strong group of people that, according to Jane McGrath of a ‘HowStuffWorks’ Blog, are “highly educated, self-confident, technologically savvy and ambitious”. Sure, our attitudes may have shifted a little since Generation X was taking over the workplace but we’re getting stuff done aren’t we? There is a lot more on our plates than when older generations were our age.
We’re expected to graduate high school and get into a good college or university so we can prepare ourselves for an almost required Master’s degree to get a good job [if you didn’t already know, in 2013 there are 4 million jobs available….but 12,806,000 people are on unemployment compensation and the unemployment rate as of February 2013 was 8.3% (“The employment situation,” 2013)]. We are expected to know how to use every piece of technology imaginable and on top of that we are expected to know how to control and “write” these programs using code. So, yeah, we might come off as a little bit of over-achievers but we really have no other choice.
So, are you starting feel a little bad for assuming that we’re all lazy, incompetent, narcissistic brats?
Really though, it’s about enough with these comments about narcissism. Take a look at the society we have to grow up in today; take a look at the people that our generation is continuously compared to. We watch television and see women who are a size “I-really-need-to-eat-a-cheeseburger-but-I’ll-just-throw-it-up-later-anyways” and men who make one too many million dollars, have a cheating secretary girlfriend, and a trophy wife at home. The world we live in is Photoshopped, unrealistic, and not our generation. Especially not if we’re all trying to make it out alive in this messed up world just like you.
Ron Alsop of the Wall Street Journal believes that our (Generation Y) degree of self-confidence is likely a product of highly involved parents who vehemently encouraged the importance of self-esteem (McGrath). We have had self-esteem instilled into us from the beginning and have been told that there are no limits to what we can do, that we can do anything we put our minds to and now that many of us are growing up and taking full advantage of that mindset we are accused of being narcissistic. We are caught in the middle; where is the line between self-confidence and narcissism?
The Generation Y group is contributing huge things to our society, from Facebook to Buzzfeed to Kickstarter and so many more—sites where social activism, creativity, collaboration, and informed debate can happen! Daria Taylor says in a ‘Talented Heads’ article that Millennials are a group of “confident, diverse, open-to-change, well-educated, ambitious, tolerant, tech-savvy and, perhaps surprisingly, socially aware” young adults. We carry similar struggles and are fighting the same battles as you.