Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1995, has grown up in an era where parenting was positive, we were told we could do anything, everyone got a trophy, and a college education was a baseline.
For us, it was never about just finding a job. It is about finding a passion and a way to change the world. Unlike our predecessors, we are not satisfied with just making it. We want to lead movements and create an impact on everything we touch.
On the other hand, we face greater uncertainty than any other generation in history. During our childhood, we were exposed to an average of 1,000 advertisements per day, well over 50 times that of our parents’ childhood. We accept less privacy in our personal lives than any other generation, not by choice, but by an imposition of technology.
We are not burdened by doubt, but rather by a paralysis of options, an overload of distractions, and a tension between reality and our high expectations.
As a fellow member of Gen Y, I wanted everything and honestly felt that I could get it. However, I was frustrated by an unclear path and felt confused when I would look back a year later wondering why nothing in my life had changed.
I was afraid to take any definitive step in one direction for fear of closing off doors elsewhere—should I change my mind. The outcome was that I floundered.
I got nowhere just like someone from another generation, but felt doubly burdened. Unlike the baby boomer of my parents’ generation who may end up nowhere for lack of confidence, I ended up nowhere for fear of only succeeding in just one endeavor, thereby not succeeding in other ways. I wanted to be president, Supreme Court justice, and senator all at the same time, but in the end, I could be none of those because being just one wasn’t good enough.
Then, in my early twenties, I learned something that forever changed my life. Taking a definitive step in one direction did not close off other doors in the long run. In fact, that clear and definitive step in one direction actually made other options more possible. By weeding through the many goals and ambitions to focus on just one or two, I was able make many other things that I wanted in life possible—and I didn’t even have to worry about those other ones. They just happened!
As a generation, Gen Y is not burdened with “if” we can do something. We are rather paralyzed with the decision of “what” we should do. This distinction makes us unique from other generations, and with it, comes some obvious advantages and perilous disadvantages. We must have the courage and consistency to focus past all of the distractions and chase after only one compelling vision of our own future.
Looking at your own life, what is that one future that you would like to create for yourself? Where would you like to see yourself five years from now that would allow you to be full of passion and happiness?