Who am I anymore? But, who are these people I call peers? This life, this blessing, we have been given out of birthright is considered just that – a birthright. One that is given by the time a baby takes his first breath into a world unknown, unannounced. Yet the masses, specifically, “generation me”, see it and do not appreciate what comes with such a given right: a body, a brain, a future, and ultimately the hope for progress. They disregard what is given, and reach for things that may be far out of their line of hand. They are blatantly unsatisfied with what the cards have dealt, respectfully so. Who does not want to flourish in society? Who does not want to achieve high success through a certain love, or passion?
Yet, it speaks volumes to how this generation, our generation, goes about gaining said flourishing, said success. As if it comes along with the first breath taken, a given of sorts. Most likely considering a birthright to be placement within a high-ranked career or an acquiring of a high income. All stemming from “‘the self-esteem movement, telling kids, ‘You’re great, you’re special,’” Professor Paul Harvey at University of Hampshire proclaims. For they are then taught at a young age that they are destined for greatness, even if they may not possess the qualities to achieve it. A study conducted by a group of highly influential psychologists such as John Reynolds and Michael Stewart analyzed 25 years of high school senior classes concluding that today’s teenagers are “both highly ambitious and increasingly unrealistic,” as they wait for life to serve them.
That entitlement to a well-paying career is soon coupled with the prestige of being above our subordinating system, above the white collar, above “the little people.” Confidence in what you are and who you stand for is a quality worth having. But an extreme amount of confidence leads to the development of selfishness and narcissism, qualities worth avoiding. And it is easy to succumb to the tendencies of viewing ourselves in a different light, a skewed light of egotism. We all have taken dips in the waters of ego, groveling in all its satisfaction. As Professor Paul Harvey concluded from many extensive studies measuring entitlement and narcissism in “Generation Y”, or generation me, he “found they scored 25 percent higher than respondents ages 40 to 60 and 50 percent higher than those over 61″ (Moore). Yet most of our ego is then based off of self-proclaimed superiority, due to the frivolous livelihoods led that are filled with Tory Burch, Mercedes Benz, and our dear friend Louis Vuitton.
Of course, owning expensive items does not lead to bragging. And it surely does not directly lead to a superiority complex. It is the air in which one shows it off to the public, especially to the “competitors” in their life, or those they wish to impress. And it is mostly seen within the privileged young adults who see it fit to gloat about their materialistic “worth”. In 2004 social psychologists by the names of Astin, Oseguera, Sax, and Korn found that the need for materialism has increased, sharing that 74% of college freshmen viewed ‘‘being very well-off financially’’ as an important life goal. The statistic, in comparison, is much higher than the 45% in 1967.
As a student at Chapman University, a prestigious private university in the heart of Orange County, a majority of my peers are blessed enough to have BMWs fill their parking spots coupled with Michael Kors sported on the crook of their arms. It is simply the Chapman norm to be given such materialistic things, and not value it just as that: useless things. It can be perfectly exemplified by my two roommates who began to quarrel over who had the more grandeur of mansions. As if whoever has the bigger home would win. For this generation clearly bases its worth off of what they can buy, or more accurately- what their parents can buy.
But their value is not only the extravagance of what they own, but clearly how it is in comparison to what others own. It then creates a totalitarian hierarchy for a democratic nation with those that have the most extravagant of lives, most boisterous of egos at the top. And others who do not have said expensive privileges are placed at the bottom of hierarchical structure, forced to believe the lives they lead are insignificant and pathetic. The new-found class structure is then in place to strictly influence self-perceptions and identities, creating the idea that to be successful, to be happy, and to be worthwhile, one must have expensive things. For without such you have a “lesser” identity, as implied by Sonja Lyubomirsky: University of California psychology professor who studies the properties of happiness.
But what could these absorbed mentalities do within our society? Within relationships? Will there be a chance where they can not see others’ perspectives? Or within businesses? In a survey taken through Millennial Branding and American Express, managers spoke of ”said employees (Generation Y) have (ing) unrealistic compensation expectations (51%), a poor work ethic (47%), and are easily distracted (46%)” (Schwabel). As companies try to prosper, who will we then rely on – Generation X? Or will businesses slowly crumble, and falter greatly with finances, images, and credibility?
To those who are part of Generation Y, please open your eyes and consider this idea of change for it is all for the better:
Bragging about privileges and accolades reflects a poorer sense of character; show it through your true, humbling actions. No one wants to know how much money you spent on your purse or what awards you received four years ago. It only shares the sentiment that we are just contingents to the worldly system of money, nothing more. We can not be taken for the worth we try to flaunt, for that does not correctly represent who we are in our character, or value. Rather, our intrinsic worth should be shown by our honesty, our integrity, our determinism, our care, our selflessness. That is what defines one’s character. The only way to share said sentiment is to act in such a light. For our words, actions, and thoughts are being scrutinized, continually seen under a microscope. Act, speak, and think the way you wish to be perceived, because being humble and being true is the most beneficial to not only others, but you as well.
You are always better off than most people in the world. We are part of the United States of America, the ruling capital of the world where we are the privileged, the gifted, the lucky. We are living lives where education is a cornerstone of success, and food on the table is never a second thought. And we are the ones worried for our livelihood? Where 15 million children are orphaned due HIV and AIDS. When 80% of humanity is living off of $10 a day. Where 121 million children can not acquire a proper education. There is such a large proportion of our nation who claims they are appreciative for the cards they have been dealt, yet they never act it. Why not act grateful? Feel blessed for the beautiful life provided, and then give to those who need it most. Philanthropy, whether its money or volunteer time, can strengthen your character in such a manner where you may even enjoy it yourself.
You aren’t entitled, not even to success. You get what you earn. The life we all have been given does not come with a guaranteed future, even though we have trained to believe we embody uniqueness and specialty. You can only become special by working efficiently for an extremely long time, because only then can you been given a privilege off of your own ability and effort. But always fight for what you want, and never ask for mommy and daddy’s help. You are a capable human being, so do not be afraid to push yourself to the brink. It will be worth it in time.
Ignore the influences others may have, focus on yourself. Social media allows people to share their most inflated selves, boasting about their accomplishments, their futures, and even their looks. And it is impossible to escape such absurdity! It bombards you due to the gravity and popularity of it. Most of those who take part in the oh, so ridiculous forms of gloating are the ones who are wanting the recognition and appraisal. But the truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, as any human-being. If you just do your thing, you’ll never have any reason to envy others. Never let others influence the path you wish to take, the goals you wish to conquer, or the obstacles you wish to overcome. Focus on yourself, and who you want perceive yourself as. It is your life, not theirs to toy with.
We all have the cabability to alter our ways of speaking and acting, therefore leading to a better way of life. It is up to you, to make that choice. For it always is a choice to be who you want to be. Now it is in your hands to do with it what you may. And I wish you the best of luck with whatever decision you make – live long and prosper, my fellow yuppies!