Spoiled. Narcissistic. Entitled. Self-Absorbed. Demanding. Short Attention Span. Addicted to our smart devices.
These are the some of the choice names that are used to describe Gen X and Millennials. I was born in 1979, I am not sure if I am Gen X or a Millennial, according to some I am Gen X, according to others I am a Millennial. Either way, I decided challenge these stereotypes that have been attributed to us.
Every generation has generalizations and stereotypes made about them, most have some degree of accuracy or truth. Our grandparents who made it through The Great Depression and then fought Fascism in World War II were ‘The Greatest Generation’ as anointed by a misty eyed Tom Brokaw. Their self-sacrifice was what saved the free world. Winston Churchill put it even more succinctly, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
The people from the Greatest Generation that survived came home, married and gave birth to the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 to 1964). Arguably the largest human population boom in such a short time. It fueled the economic growth of America and in part made America the great power that it became. Baby Boomers have the reputation of enjoying unprecedented economic upward mobility without really having to work too hard for it. As long as you have a strong pair of hands, a good work ethic, you don’t even need to be too smart, just be white and male, you will be alright. You can make a living, buy a little home, marry and raise your own family in better circumstances than you were raised, or aka, The American Dream. The flip side of the Baby Boomers is that they are believed to be selfish, self-centered and basically pissed away all the good fortune that was handed down to them. Ok, so that’s my own biased view since my parents and their siblings are Baby Boomers, I find them quite intolerable at times, especially when they have the nerve to lecture us how good we have it. It’s not our fault that they spent the better part of their adolescence and early adulthood doing drugs and fried most of their brain cells. My maternal relatives to be specific, under my grandparent’s loving care, basically handed everything to them on a platter and some of them still fucked up. All they had to do was show up and they couldn’t even manage that. But I digress…
Come to Gen X (those born between 1965 to early 1980s) and Millennials (those born mid-1980s to early 2000s), the progeny of Baby Boomers, due to the explosion of the digital age in the 1980s and the drastic change in lifestyle as a result, we were attributed with all these unsavory character traits. I can tolerate almost all of them (and a lot of the labels are teapot calling the kettle black situation) except the ‘entitled’ label.
The ‘Because I am Worth It’ mentality of entitlement has followed Gen X and Millennials around like the plague. Many Gen X and Millennials feel compelled to defend ourselves against this label. Up until now, I’ve often laughed it off as just another crude stereotype created by people who don’t know better. After all, Gen X and Millennials, compared with the previous generations are much more diverse racially and ethnically, to even attempt to put us in a box is preposterous. Especially when the Gen X and Millennial population is analyzed across the world, there has never been a more diverse generation of people.
So, back to entitlement, the ‘right’ to pursue our own desires at times to the detriment of others, and by detriment, I really mean hurt feelings and not real harm. Whereas our grandparents and parents, either of their own accord or due to pressure from society hunkered down at certain stages in their lives and got a job, got married and started a family – basically a slow death. They suppressed their own desires and wishes until their ‘responsibilities’ were taken care of, they held off on their dreams and goals so that their children wouldn’t suffer and their families wouldn’t be upset with them. Apparently, Gen X and Millennials have tossed all this out the window and we decided to do whatever we want whenever we want without sparing a thought for the consequences. However, let’s consider that to be true for a minute, we are just that selfish and self centered to do whatever the flip we want, with whomever we want, whenever we want; but when done without harming others (feelings of parents and society at large not included), is that really so bad?
Do we want to repeat the doldrum lives of our mothers and grandmothers? For what? So that we can be seen as a ‘good girl’? Isn’t this what women’s lib was all about, for us to do what we please with our lives and now we are being chastised for it? As I am inching closer to 40 and as I examine my life, I’ve done things that were expected of me because I wanted my mother to be happy and I did it of my own volition and when she was genuinely proud of my actions, I was happy too. There were also times I caused great anguish to my mother because I did whatever the flip I wanted without any care or regard for her feelings. I felt a little guilty about it, but oh well, she’ll get over it.
And looking over the major decisions I’ve made in my life, some were horrible and disastrous, some were pretty awesome but like most people, most of the decisions we make in life have more to do with the present circumstance we find ourselves in rather than what we really want to do, and this is no different throughout any generation of folks. And yes, I bloody well do deserve to pursue my desires, regardless of what stage I am at in life. There is no expiration date for my goals. No life’s circumstance can deter me from my dreams, I will make it happen for myself. My dreams of entrepreneurship, being a lady-boss, it will all happen for me because I want them to, and I deserve them, I am willing to work for them, and yes, because I want it. It’s that simple. I want it, so I will go get it and make it happen. I am entitled to be happy to do whatever the hell I want even if I have to upset some people. Why? Because I can, and because I deserve it!
Lastly, the most narcissistic, self-absorbed and demanding people I’ve ever met were age 50 and over and what’s worse, they think they deserve to be complete assholes just by virtue of their age (just like all the men wanting to defund Planned Parenthood – total assholes). As if after reaching a certain age earns you a badge for the right to be an asshole.
I am addicted to my smart devices and my attention span has gotten shorter and shorter maybe because my patience is on the wane too, so, guilty as charged!
But, I am worth it.