Before I begin, it should be noted that this article is an opinion of the author and a refutation of an opinion written by a blogger called “Wait But Why” and their article titled “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy”. I have read this article 5 or 6 times in the last couple weeks and have also read refutations by other bloggers about this article. After reading the article 5 or 6 times I still disagree with its basic premises, I am still bothered that the blogger won’t reveal him/herself, still bothered that The Huffington Post would publish a ghost writer who won’t reveal their name. I am also of the opinion that the writer is not someone from Generation Y, I mean if they are and I am wrong, well so be it, but the tonality of the article suggests otherwise.
Let’s look at the first part of the article, the author refers to us as “Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies”, or “GYPSY’s”, “A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story.” Let me stop right there, I am already offended, not all 75 to 85 million of us think we are a big deal, or the greatest thing since sliced bread. Yes there are many type A personalities, many leaders, many confident members of our generation, but not all of us think we are the “cat’s meow”.
The author then goes into an explanation of “happiness”, happiness = reality minus expectations. This part I agree with because it is a simple formula. Where the author loses me is the part where they claim all Gen Y-ers have these great expectations of being something special. I think many Gen Y-ers do have big expectations, and that is part of what makes our generation great. That being said reality has taken a bit of an adjustment, and maybe “Wait But Why” needs to put down their 1970’s era Elton John rose tinted glasses for a second(sorry Elton, it isn’t a jab at you). Let’s take a look at reality for a second.
Education and Debt
One of the traps many young people have fallen into is the wrong side of the demand curve with education and debt. In the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s, and into the early 2000’s if you could find a way to go to college, graduate, and put some effort in, you were generally bound for middle to upper level management, a good income, the ability to pay back their debt, the ability to afford a home and have the “American Dream”. Beginning in the the late 1990’s and going into the 2000’s education costs began to rise, administrators and professors wanted pay increases and pensions, universities wanted the ability to take on more research projects, and the ease and accessibility of grants and loans. More demand for education and costs go up, no shocker there. As costs go up, loans and interest go up as well. This leads me to my next topic jobs.
Jobs and Wages
Most of Gen Y has fallen on the wrong side of the demand curve. If you were born pre 1984 and finished college in 4 years, chances are you should have been unscathed with regard to the “Great Recession”. Much of Gen Y was born after 1983 and is being faced with the blunt of the current job market. Part of the issue is many parents, educators, and students, saw the massive success that Generation X had by going to college, obtaining quality jobs, ability to purchase homes and new vehicles and not have severe financial consequences. Generation Opportunity released in article in January saying the Millennial Unemploment was 11.5% (Ages 18-29). In July of this year, Forbes, looks at unemployment, real unemployment, and under-employement in today’s job market. Ironically enough manufacturing, which had been down for years is now on the upswing. I know of a few 18 and 19 year old tradesmen who are earning more than working professional counterparts ten years their senior.
This is a minor pillar in my argument for why Gen Y is unhappy. Gasoline is one product that has gone up significantly in the last ten years. Yes there will be many out there who will argue that gas here is less expensive that gas in Europe. Ok, ok, ok, we get it. That being said gas per gallon really should only be $1.00 to $2.50 a gallon in my opinion. I am of the belief that oil companies are running their businesses, well like businesses, and keeping the demand at a peak so that they get top dollar. Gas and sales taxes also are hurting the consumer.
Meat, fresh foods, and milk are another big one. I would say meat is the biggest. I could remember when you could buy smaller steaks for $4 or $5 per package, that same package now is between $7 and $9. Fresh fruits and veggies have gone up in price, along with milk.
Another small item to consider under inflation is costs versus actual inflation against wages. Check out US Inflation Calculator and you will understand what I am talking about.
Generation Y grew up with watching programming like PBS and Seasame Street. In the schools it was taught that kids should be tolerant of each other regardless of race, religion, disability, or origin. Previous generations were telling us, do better than their previous generations with regards to not discriminating and being tolerant of others. Parents telling us as youths to be nice and courteous to older adults. Now that Generation Y is high school to age 35 more or less, Ageism of all things is fairly prevalent. Most commonly it is seen in work environments(either hiring for a job, office politics, or a client picking a contractor who might be too young). All of these are examples of ageism. Is ageism rampant, no. Is it common, yes. Can it be eliminated, not completely, but it can be neutralized.
Generation Y is also facing external pressures too. Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend? When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? When are you going to switch jobs? When is your next raise? When is your 2nd child? Are you going to buy a home? Are you going to live on your own, or with a sibling, or move back home? The list goes on and on. These pressures are certainly situational and should be considered with regard to the “happiness scale” of Generation Y.
Now to go back to the article “Wait But Why” wrote, I really think this author is completely missing the challenges facing Generation Y. What I have outlined above covers most of the challenges our generation is currently facing with regard to happiness. I also feel that the tonality and frame of reference by the author was demeaning and condescending to Generation Y-ers out there like myself. As far as I am concerned, this uninformed anonymous blogger can go pound sand.
My advice to my fellow Generation Y-ers is this…
Have Crazy Ambitions and Reach For The Stars: Remember what Napoleon Hill said, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” . So go out there and go for it. If you fail, you learned a lesson, if you succeed, fantastic!
Work Hard & Politely Show Others You Are Doing So: If you work a 9-5 desk job, show up early, leave late. Get ahead on projects. Ask for more work. Don’t complain. Show your value and your worth, but do not flaunt it.
We Are Special, Promote You, Your Own Personal Brand: Regardless of if you are a 9-5 employee, work for a non for profit or are an entrepreneur, go out an promote your own personal brand. We live in a very different world now and it is imperative you share with others your value. Remember what Mom & Dad always said, “Don’t worry about everyone else, worry about yourself.”.
Help Others: Doesn’t matter who or how much, just go and help others. As Zig Ziglar said “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”.
Read!: Read any good book you can get your hands on. It will help you learn, grow, and become more intelligent.
Don’t Listen to the Opinions of Others: Things like “You can’t”, “Good luck with that”, “ooooo you’re doing that”. Ignore them and move on.
Don’t Give Up: Plain and simple, be persistent. There will be challenges and learning experiences along the way. Pay attention to others mistakes and learn from them.