The Big Fat Millennial Lie


'I was led to think and believe that I am good at everything and that no one could compare.'- Mercy, my dearest flatmate from Kenya, wrote in her blog- 'When you are not the smartest in the room'.

After reading her blog, I realized it's exactly the same thing that my parents told me as I was growing up. Clearly, irrespective of the geographies, there is something that connects certain generational ideas across the world. We are part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s.  Our parents were born in the 50s—they’re Baby Boomers.  They were raised by our grandparents, members of the G.I. Generation, or “the Greatest Generation,” who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War I. Our grandparents were obsessed with economic security and raised our parents to build practical, secure careers.  They wanted our parents’ careers to have greener grass than their own, and our parents were brought up to envision a prosperous and stable career for themselves. Landing a lesser paying yet stable salary government job was like winning the lottery. They were taught that there was nothing stopping them from getting to that lush, green lawn of a career, but that they’d need to put in years of hard work to make it happen. As the 70s, 80s, and 90s rolled along, the world entered a time of unprecedented economic prosperity. Our parents did even better than they expected to. This left them feeling gratified and optimistic.

With a smoother, more positive life experience than that of their parents, our parents raised us with a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility.  And they weren’t alone.  Baby Boomers all around the country and world told their Gen Y kids that they could be whatever they wanted to be, instilling the special protagonist identity deep within their psyches. This left us feeling tremendously hopeful about our careers, to the point where our parents’ goals of a green lawn of secure prosperity didn’t really do it for them. We want economic prosperity just like our parents did—we just also want to be fulfilled by our career in a way our parents didn’t think about as much. But, not just that, we were taught a special lesson during our childhood -'You're special'. We have been taught, 'everyone will go and get themselves some fulfilling career, but I am unusually wonderful and as such, my career and life path will stand out amongst the crowd.' We are currently living in a world of delusion created by our upbringing, not just by our parents but by a generation of Baby Boomers.

'You’re special' syndrome brings on two things: one, being wildly ambitious and two, being depressed, because yes, though each one of us is special, to be successful it takes a lot of hard work and persuasion. It finally boils down to staying ambitious and channelling your thoughts in a way that is practical. It's not as much about stopping thinking you're special but rather dispelling the utopian idea that you will never fail. And finally, when you find yourself envying the lives of others, remember this -  Yes, perhaps the grass is greener on their perfectly mowed lawn, but on the flipside, yours might very well be the whole glorious meadow in everyone else's eyes.