The other day, I was reading an article that talked about a study that was conducted in which they asked people between the ages of 18 and 24 how they feel about their generation. The results weren’t that surprising to me. According to this study, only 19% have a positive view of their generation compared to previous generations. 40% of what are called Millennials (the current population of 18- to 24-year-olds) judge their own generation more negatively than their parents, and another 40% is neutral on the topic. A lot of this, the article says, is due to the over all attitude of Millennials.
For instance, the highest differentiation reported by Millennials was that they are more tech-savvy than their parents, but even that was seen as a neutral fact. Most of the people that were asked made the connection with their negative attitude towards their generation with the ever-growing challenges of the economy and the state of the job market. Two-thirds of Millennials say they are somewhat or very worried about finding a successful or rewarding career, while 76% of 18- to 24-year-olds say jobs and unemployment are the most critical issues facing the country. Only 40% of those who participated in the study say their generation will be better off than their parents’ generation.
This article has been rolling around in my mind for the last week or so. I find it particularly fascinating that my generation has adopted such a harsh view of itself. Yes, I agree that the job market is beyond ridiculous. The unemployment rate is higher than it ever has been, we’re still losing jobs, not gaining them. The economy is hardly what anyone would call healthy or stable, and we are all struggling to get by on a daily basis. But something I feel the article, and the study, failed to explore was that 40% of people who carry the burden of believing our generation could be something great. Why do they believe it will be great? Why do they have a positive view of themselves? Are they just misinformed and delusional? Or maybe they see something everyone else choses to ignore: Hope.
I’ve heard it said at times in my life that hope is our mind’s way of coping with a situation in which there is no foreseeably positive end. Hope is simply our body’s way of coping with challenging circumstances in order to survive as long it can until it’s inevitable demise. But those of us that believe in more than just this life tend to see hope in places where others have deemed there is no hope. They would call the hopeful unrealistically optimistic, or out of touch with the world around them….crazy..basically.
Is it crazy to believe there is still hope around the corner? There seems to be a rise in this generation of people becoming more and more intolerable of the things that have stunted growth and progress, namely technology, media, food, and unhealthy living habits. I see a growing percentage of people who long to experience life the way it once was long ago, to get back to what living was all about. Every generation has people who dare to dream of a new world with endless possibilities. One man once dreamed of sending someone to the moon. Everyone thought he was crazy. Not only did he say he would do it, but he declared that he would do it by the end of the decade, with technology that hadn’t been invented yet, with plans and theories that were still in the imaginations of dreamers, and he did it. It was because of a man standing up and saying “enough talking, enough dreaming, lets make this happen” that he, and many others, completely changed everything for humanity as we knew it. He made it okay to dream again. When someone had a dream that everyone would acknowledge that they are created equally, and that racism would be abolished in the name of what was good and right, many doubted, and probably thought he was crazy at the time. Crazy can be a good thing sometimes.
If someone asked me what the biggest difference between my generation and my parents’ generation is, I would respond with…
I believe our generation is different, namely, because we have rediscovered what it means to dream without limits. For the first time in many generations, its ok to dream about what you want to do in life, and maybe that’s working at a coffee shop, traveling the world, or living in your car and becoming a nomad, and that’s considered acceptable in this world! You might be single the rest of your life, but what the hell! Go do what you’ve always dreamed of. My parents’ generation was a generation filled with doing something because its the right thing to do. You pick a career, not because you love it or have always wanted to do it, but because its the type of career that provides for a family. Do I think that’s a bad thing? Yes and no. I believe the generation I’m a part of has it really hard. In a world where the economy is so unstable, jobs are hard to come by, people are losing their homes, and good people are fewer and further in between, we have this attitude of discontentment. We are unashamedly willing to take huge leaps of faith to fight for what we love in life, regardless of what we might lose in the process. It’s because of this characteristic that I believe some pretty amazing things will come out of my generation. I believe my parents’ generation established a foundation, created a work ethic, and inspired their children to be all they can be, and now they condemn them for trying to do just that. What if you tell your children that they can be anything they want to be, and they want to rent scooters on an island and live in a hut? Do you still mean what you said?
We were told our entire lives that the sky is the limit, that we should shoot for the stars. The crazy thing is, despite an unstable world, and all the odds against us, we choose to press on, high on romanticism and Red Bull. We’ve been glamoured by our own ambition, and we think nothing is impossible. Nothing is considered to be a failure. Maybe that’s exactly what this world needs.
We need to dream again. Hope needs to be a reality, love needs to spur us to action, and life needs to be worth fighting for. We need to create for ourselves a world in which our wildest imagination is allowed to flourish, a world where passion comes alive and becomes so contagious that whole cultures could be molded into something new. Like I said before, every generation has at least one person that changes the world as we know it and inspires others to do the same. The only difference is I believe our generation is comprised of many people who dare to be “that person”….the person that changes everything.
I believe our generation will make this happen, regardless of how good the economy is, what other people deem appropriate or acceptable careers, or whether our parents approve. We may have a long way to go, but we could be great if we want to be…If we choose to be.