Growing up a Gen Y’er isn’t easy. We are definitely a confused bunch and it’s not surprising when you take just a little look at what the world is we are growing up in. There are mounds of articles out there that really don’t have anything positive to say about this narcissistic, selfish, technology enveloped, disengaged, short term thinking, shallow, hard to please and easily distracted generation. A generation who, might I add, we have a whole lot riding on. This generation has been handed the remnants and remains of a government system that works, a world that is peaking with natural resources, a world that is not falling to pieces, with a humanity that connects on a deeper level than a like. A humanity that enjoys engaging with others on a face-to-face personal level, where there was not an infinite juggle to balance our careers and family – where one does not override the other or we have one at the expense of the other. 

We Gen Y’ers have grown up in a world where compromise is second nature, where we want connection but have almost forgotten how to go about it. Where it is easier to find modified food than those that are natural. We have grown up in a world where we have been desensitised to beheadings and grossly inhumane violence, where children cannot be kids, rather they are overly sexualised or subjected to sexual content in more ways than one and their innocence is stripped, yet I hear more and more about how we are good for nothing. We don’t understand how to be independent. We don’t portray self love. We are materialistic and shallow. We don’t take our future seriously. We don’t take criticism. We can’t be managed and we are a Generation of loose cannons.
I am going to round up all the ‘Gen Y’ in me and say please stop. I urge you to give me a go. Could I suggest that maybe what it will take is a short term thinking to go out there and make change happen today because maybe there won’t be a tomorrow. Maybe it will take a Generation with technological savvy to seamlessly integrate it into our everyday lives so it can enhance life, rather than detract from it. Maybe we need a generation who’s understanding of the word ‘community’ is a global one. Where we rely on brothers and sisters from around the globe to make a difference rather than just our suburbs. Maybe a selfish generation will ensure that work-life balance is more than a fancy concept in a HR policy book. Maybe Gen Y is exactly what this world needs.

We are stuck trying to work out in a world in turmoil whether we should be travelling to open our eyes or saving to put ourselves in the rat race. Whether we begin our career with our undergraduate degree or whether to study more. Whether to even begin our career, where to begin. Where to undertake work experience in an industry that requires experience but no one is willing to give it. How to manage an unpaid internship and a part time job and study. We have found ourselves growing up in a world where there are limitations and struggles that no other generation will quite understand, just as we will never fully understand the flight of a veteran or the turmoil faced by a Boomer or Gen X’er. It’s just the way it is, but to be blanketed under the Gen Y banner with all the stereotypes is unfortunate. We as a generation have our faults, and I am the first to admit that. In many ways it can even frustrate me, but it’s not easy to find independence when we are studying until the age of 22, property seems so out of reach and graduate positions are far and few between. It might take us a little longer to sort ourselves out, but then again our prospects of beginning our career without a high school diploma let alone a degree are significantly lower than they were for our parents, so isn’t that natural? I don’t think that Gen Y are slow or lazy or avoiding the things they need to do to get their life started, they’re just still trying to work out how. The world we are growing up in is getting smaller and so we are navigating a world of opportunities and in the same breath competition. I have faith in us. I really do. I have faith that we will help eachother. That we will try to learn from our past. That we will look at the turmoil in the world and we will try to rise to another level. To grow in consciousness, to a point where we can’t ignore the little guy any more. It is up to Gen Y to do it. We are the generation, it’s crunch time.

I urge my Gen Y brothers and sisters to go out there and fight for their passion, for the greater good. To learn their weaknesses and improve on them. To open their hearts and to grow in knowledge, emotional intelligence and spirituality. Recognise and grasp the opportunities you have to really make a difference. I have faith that as a cohort we can move past war, greed and misfortune we just need to believe we can. A little gesture can go a long way. Go out there and pay it forward. Put a smile on one persons face. Tell someone they are beautiful. Tell them they have a great smile or beautiful hair. This won’t make you weird, it will make you human. We need to regain our roots and remind ourselves of what makes us human again. Try to remember to focus on the little things in your world that remind you of the joy and beauty around you and all of a sudden it becomes second nature.

To my fellow generations, the X’ers, the boomers and more, I urge you to give us a shot. We are trying to navigate a world that is far different to the one you may know. There are a whole lot of problems, but the solutions book hasn’t quite been written. Do we need to be reminded from time to time about our mis-endeavours or attitude? – hell yes. Do we want all your guidance and wisdom? Yes, and I would be extremely surprised to hear anyone say otherwise. It’s time we stop dividing ourselves based on race, sex, money or generation and begin joining forces.