WHY GENERATION Y IS UNHAPPY

Dear Reader,

I read a really good article yesterday called “Why Generation Y is unhappy.” I encourage everyone (especially people around my age) to check it out, but I’ll just summarize it for now.

Basically, the new adults are finding themselves to be really unhappy and they can’t quite figure out why. But when we analyze how we’ve been raised and the kind of environment we’ve all grown up in, it makes perfect sense.

As Tim Urban (the author of this article) brings up, we’ve been raised to believe that we are special. That we all are special. Unlike our parents, we went through school being overly encouraged that we can achieve anything. “Anyone can be president” is a phrase I heard a lot throughout elementary school–which, upon reflection, is kind of weird because why is president the best job we can think of anyway? I think there are much more ambitious dreams we could have and, honestly, no one I know even really dreams of being president.

Anyway, that not only results in outrageously big dreams and unrealistic goals, but it sets the foundation for a lot of entitlement issues. Everyone goes through school thinking that they’re special. But that literally cannot be true. It is impossible for everyone to be special.

And then Tim says: “Even right now, the GYPSYs reading this are thinking, ‘Good point…but I actually am one of the few special ones’–and this is the problem.”

I actually laughed out loud in my student center, because I couldn’t stop that thought from crossing my own mind as well.

Another quote that struck me directly was when he explained his term for all of us in this category: GYPSYs.

“A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story.”

…….

I don’t know how long you’ve been reading my blog, but that’s how all of this began. I thought of myself as the protagonist in a rather unfulfilling story, and I wanted to change that. I wanted my story to be great.

So I was kind of taken aback (and embarrassed) that Tim had me pegged from the fourth sentence.

And that’s the thing–reading this post was weird. I mean, he was calling us GYPSYs delusional, and then proving it! And I knew all of this to some extent, but I didn’t really want to face it. And I was reading it thinking, so what? I should give up my dreams and realize how average I am and then I’ll be happy? That doesn’t make any sense.

But then I got to the end, where he gave three very important pieces of advice.

  1. Stay wildly ambitious. Good, because I don’t think I’d be able to give up my dreams if I wanted to. (And I don’t want to.)
  2. Stop thinking that you’re special. I especially like what he said to clarify: “You’re another completely inexperienced young person who doesn’t have all that much to offer yet. You can become special by working really hard for a long time.” So, I may not be special now, but it doesn’t mean I won’t ever be.  
  3. Ignore everyone else. This might be the hardest advice to take, just because it’s so difficult when you see your peers (and people much younger) going off and living lives that you wish could be yours. But by ignoring others, I can truly focus on myself and what I want to accomplish.

So that’s my take on this article. Definitely still check it out if you haven’t already! And, if you’re in generation Y, I urge you to stop trying to write a story that will rival that of your peers, but just write one that will make you happy.

That’s what I’m going to try to do.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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12 thoughts on “WHY GENERATION Y IS UNHAPPY

  1. rebbit7 says:

    Good thoughts! Especially being a Gen Y, I can relate to these points. We really aren’t that special, but I think that having that mindset (with just the right amount of balance) will help us stay positive and help us work towards our goals of becoming, well, special! Stay awesome!

    • sincerelysammy says:

      Yeah exactly! It’s weird that one of my goals now is to become special… or maybe it’s weird that it’s never been a goal before–it’s just always been something I assumed I am. But thanks! You stay awesome, too! 🙂

  2. Matthew says:

    I haven’t read the article yet, and though I see the logic behind the position you summarized, I have trouble believing it plays a huge role. America was built on “The American Dream” which is basically the idea that no matter who you are or where you come from you can make it to the top. Isn’t that essentially the same as thinking you’re special?
    Anyway, I don’t have any good ideas to add. Very interesting post. Gave me something to think about. Thanks for writing!

    • sincerelysammy says:

      I’m sorry I never saw this comment, but I really appreciate it! I get what you’re saying about the American Dream and everyone being special, but I think the most important part isn’t the endgame, but the way we’re raised. So people who were raised with the American Dream believed that if they worked hard for many, many years, they, too, could get everything they wished for. And it would come at an appropriate time in their life–after school and maybe even after kids.

      But people in Gen Y were raised thinking that they were special and could be anything they wanted. And, sure, it kind of goes without saying that in order to achieve their dreams, they would have to work hard–but that wasn’t what the emphasis was on. And then seeing people get great success at such younger ages kind of deters them and, because we weren’t raised with the same kind of mindset as our parents, we don’t think about our own mentality. We don’t think “if I work this much harder, I’ll get there.” We tend to think, “I’m special, I’ve just got to prove it. And one day, that’ll be ME.”

      I don’t know. You raised a really good point and I think it’s really interesting to think about. Thank you!

      • Matthew says:

        I’m not sure I fully subscribe to the “hard working” trope of previous generations. I think the Beat generation and hippie movement makes it pretty clear there wasn’t necessarily an emphasis on work. And there was the slacker generation in the nineties. Gen Y kids are definitely not alone in thinking they are special and for thinking life doesn’t need to full of hard work.
        I think one of the major differences is just an accident of technology. I haven’t done enough research to say this with complete confidence but I was a bit obsessed with old Hollywood and the Beat generation. Massive stars, like Lana Turner and Linda Darnell, were discovered out of nowhere. It was a well accepted belief that if you were young and hung out at a drug store or beauty parlor, and later at a mall, you could be discovered at any moment. It had little to do with hard work or patience. My point being that there was a similar thirst for stardom and fame but it just took different forms. Now we have the internet to share our desires with everyone in the world. I don’t know if all those kids lining up for Star Search in the 80’s would have started Youtube channels if it was possible back then, but I have a feeling they would have.
        It has taken a new shape, though, and I’m sure much of that is due to how easy it is nowadays.

      • sincerelysammy says:

        Huh, those are really interesting points that I’ve never thought of! I think the reason why I read this article the way I did is because I only had my parents vs. my peers to base it off of. So because my parents were hard-working and always tried to reinforce that in my life, I just assumed that’s how their generation was. And then I looked at the huge difference between their mentalities to those of people my age and just formed this conclusion that the article kind of repeated.

        But I especially like what you said about Star Search vs. Youtube channels, because that is really interesting and I think that’s a very valid point! You’re obviously much more knowledgeable in the Beat generation and have that insight, so thank you for sharing your comments with me! I will definitely look more into this when further forming my own opinion, but this is really good food for thought. My interest is especially peaked now…

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