Melissa Cowan asks Gen Y, are we really so bad?
Dear Gen Y,
Like me, you’re probably addicted to social media, constantly busy and often distracted. You browse on your iPhone while you watch reality TV and complain that ATMs are too slow.
But maybe, like me, you also read books, meditate, connect with friends and family, love the outdoors and work hard at your job. You love to explore the world and try new things (and take selfies while you do it).
What I’ve learned is that these two paths are not mutually exclusive. We can read on our Kindles, use an app to help us meditate, talk with friends online, Google the best hiking trails and use technology to further our career.
When I typed ‘Gen Y is’ into Google, the predictive text follows with ‘Gen Y is lazy’, ‘Gen Y is unhappy’ and ‘Gen Y is screwed’. This article says that our expectations, especially with regards to our career, are way too high. There’s probably some truth to it, sure, but it’s not the full picture.
This Australian study shows that Gen Y is more educated and ethical than previous generations. We compete with ‘precarious’ work environments and constant change, which makes us wary about planning too far ahead. Job security is a goal, not a given. The cost of living is continually rising and owning a house is a pipe dream for many, while striking balance between career and family is a huge struggle for parents.
I can’t speak for an entire generation, but I can speak for the people I know. I have a friend who just moved to New York to internationalise an Australian charity and one who moved to Cambodia to establish a student house for poverty-stricken kids. I have friends in senior roles at well-respected businesses who’ve worked their asses off to get there.
We have ‘option anxiety’ from the limitless choices we face when it comes to careers, life paths or brands of toothpaste. In some ways having so much choice is fortunate, in other ways it’s overwhelming.
I’m calling for a revolution. Let’s celebrate the differences between generations – it would be pretty damn boring if we were all the same. Let’s also acknowledge the many similarities. Let’s put an end to ‘Gen-ism’ and the preconceived ideas we have about each other. Let’s embrace the different things each generation can bring to the table.
Gen Y, you’re not so bad.