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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.