I was recently watching an old episode of America’s Next Top Model. I had turned it on in the background but since it was a season I had never seen before, I quickly became more fascinated with the pilot episode than the work I was really supposed to be getting done. If you’ve never watched America’s Next Top Model, during the first episode a bunch of girls are chosen to go to LA and audition to be on the actual competitive show. Part of this audition is an interview portion where candidates meet with the judges and tell them a little bit about their background and why they want to be America’s Next Top Model. I’ll admit, it’s usually during this first episode that I pick out the people I want to win and the girls I definitely want to be sent home.
However, I was struck during this episode because during the interview portion of the segment, Tyra Banks, the leader of America’s Next Top Model asked a candidate, “Why do you want to be America’s Next Top Model?” Instead of saying something like many of the other girls such as, “I’ve always dreamed of being a model” or “I was inspired by so-and-so to become a model,” this particular girl answered, “because I deserve it.”
This answer struck a chord with me because my first though was “well, why do you deserve it.” The girl went on to tell a story about how she was brought up in a tough economic situation with a broken family. Now don’t get me wrong, I sympathize with the girl, and feel sorry she had to grow up in an unfortunate and less than ideal situation, but that’s not a reason to deserve anything.
While this was the first time I actually thought of the phrase, “I deserve it,” it was not the first time I had heard this used as a reason as to why someone wanted something. My question is: why do so many people of my generation, generation Y, believe they “deserve” anything? Growing up in the Midwest, I was always taught that it’s not about what socio-economic status you grew up in, where you were born, or who your parents were that could get you anywhere. No matter whether your parents were the poorest in town or the richest, I was taught it’s up to you to make something of yourself. I was raised by a community where you garnered respect by putting in an honest day’s work and by honoring your word. Then, and only then, could you even say you had “earned” something, but never, and I mean never, did you ever “deserve” something.
I’m usually not one to criticize my generation, as I tend to like to see the glass as half full, but if we continue to go around thinking we “deserve” anything in life, we are going to look back at a life full of disappointments when we’re old. I’m not saying you can’t be disappointed at times when you feel you have earned something, but do not let it destroy you. Pick yourself up, deal with the situation, and move on. Like C.S. Lewis once said, “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”