I’m sick of people saying that the 20 and 30-something’s of today are the “Entitlement Generation.” We’ve been called the “Me, Me, Me Generation.”
The common line of thought is that our generation wants more than we “deserve” and we’re not willing to work for it. We’re then compared to generations of the past as proof that we don’t have any grit or follow through.
But let’s all take a step back. We were raised by the very same generations making these claims — and what did they teach us? Go to school: it’ll always lead to a good job. Just work hard: you’ll have enough. Pay your dues: because everybody has to do it.
The problem with these lines of thought is that everybody who subscribes to them is at the middle or end of their career path. They don’t have to start from scratch — so it’s very easy to look back critically and say: “Kids these days have no resolve.”
The reason we want more than any other generation before us is because we were promised more than any generation before us — either implicitly or explicitly.
We were promised in the way our parents and grandparents talked to us. We were promised in the way the school system groomed us. We were promised by the mass media with the movies and television shows we watched.
But we were sold a false bill of goods.
It turns out that going to school, getting straight A’s and trying to rise up through the ranks of corporate America doesn’t really work anymore. Not for the majority of us, anyway.
TAKE NOTE: I’m NOT saying that hard work isn’t a critical component of massive success. It may even be the most important aspect.
What I am saying is that hard work alone isn’t enough.
We have a systemic problem with the way our society operates that can’t be solved by following the rules as we’ve been taught. Let me tell you a little secret that most people don’t know: the idea of “paying your dues” is dead.
The truth is, you don’t have to go through “B” to get from “A” to “C.” You can skip steps. Want to start a business? You can do it without a rich uncle.
Want to rise to the top of your field? You don’t need 10 years of experience and a graduate degree. You can pass “Go” and collect your $200 in one roll. If you know the new rules, that is.
In 2015, It’s about working smart, and figuring out a way to make the system work for us. Not trying the same tired methods over and over again hoping that they’ll work. (Ever tried to print something out, and even though it’s not printing, you keep pressing the button? Yeah, same concept…)
We can’t go to school, get a Bachelor’s degree and find a nice job to stay at for 40 years right out of college that allows us to buy a house and support an entire family of four.
Maybe in 1972. But not today.
Case in point: My aunt Elaine just died a few months ago (bless her soul). She worked at GM in Detroit for years assembling cars in the factory — but had been retired for decades. Until the very end of her life, she was STILL collecting a full pension.
That type of security is long gone.
Meanwhile, millennials with Master’s degrees scouring Craigslist looking for seasonal retail jobs that will hardly pay enough to keep the lights at 40+ hours per week.
I’ve worked retail. Trust me, I know.
Everybody in your graduating class applied to the same 20 companies and you’re waiting for an interview hoping that your cover letter had just the right typeface to get the attention of an overworked hiring manager.
“Have you called to see if anyone is hiring?” your parents will ask.
Face it — times have changed.
We can’t depend on big companies to take care of us.
We can’t expect to be given pensions like our parents.
Hell, we can’t even expect our resumés to be read.
It’s a different type of hustle now.
Instead of playing the game as it’s been laid out, we have to create our own opportunities. We have to make our own jobs out of thin air.
Think about how much creativity that takes. No generation of the past has had to create so many new industries just to get by.
(7 years ago, there were no “social media managers.” We made that shit up because we needed something to do!)
That’s why this generation has brought the most explosive growth in tech history. We’re busy trying to figure out how we can make something out of nothing. And it’s working. But it takes time.
We’re understandably frustrated. Not because we’re mortified at the idea of having to do hard work — but because we can clearly see that it’s going to take much more than that to get ahead — and it’s annoying to explain this to people who are decades behind the curve.
So yes, you might see us move back in with our parents.
And yep, you might hear us bitching about not wanting to work a 9-to-5.
We’re in a situation that no generation in history has ever been in — and it may take us an entire generation to figure it out. But we’re not going to figure it out with antiquated approaches.
So stop calling us entitled. I’d like to see you wake up in 2015 and do what we do.