GenY Identity Crisis

Penelope Trunk summed up the blind spots of GenY with painful accuracy in What Gen Yers don’t know about themselves. Usually I use the term Millennial, but for the rest of this post I’ll use GenY or GenYer.  As an early GenYer (possibly having some residual GenX traits) I’m enjoying the much-deserved summation along with GenX and Boomers. However, I am still a GenYer, and here are some thoughts on the article.

1. [Slow Decision-making] . . .what I’ve noticed lately is that this nature results in Gen Y having a difficult time making decisions. They have had their parents making decisions for them for most of their childhood, and they crowdsource decisions as adults, so when they must make a decision that no one can really help them with, Gen Y often gets stuck. (Penelope Trunk)

We HAVE to make the right decisions.. or pay. GenYers are notorious peer-pleasers, and often overvalue the advice of parents (or professors). I came to realize advice and wisdom can only help to a point, and big decisions innately involve risk. One reason for slow decision making is that GenY is listening too much to older generations. Decisions are accompanied by a little Boomer angel on one shoulder saying “is this ultimately going fulfill you?” and a little GenX devil on the other “don’t listen to convention, what is right for you?”Paralysis by analysis. GenY is set up with the with the task of weighing all possible risks to personal fulfillment, and figuring out exactly what they want… at the age of 24. Have I found the brass ring in my life yet? Am I falling into conventions of marriage and motherhood, failing to be true to my own ambitions? Let me think on this a while…

2. [“Winners”] But Gen Y is consumed with their image. Online, they manage themselves like they are celebrities. . . And Gen Y women are renowned for dressing up at work in great clothes regardless of how much money they make or what the rest of the office is wearing. (Penelope Trunk)

In a world of only Winners and Losers, it’s too embarrassing to admit you’re not a winner. GenY mentality is to think that if you’re not a winner you are a loser. This has contributed to the GenY Quarter Life Crises. If we haven’t attained the life we expected, we can at least convince our friends we have. We post pics from our latest travels abroad, exaggerate professional accomplishments, or constantly update our statuses with overly-clever tweets. If we can’t achieve any real sense of accomplishment, we can at least master tactics of one-upmanship. I know that girl by the way. The one who thinks that if you wear a $300+ outfit from Anthropologie to work, people are obligated to listen to you.

3. [Not Entrepreneurial.] In general, though, Gen Y likes working for someone else. Gen Y likes assignments, they like feedback, they like meetings, group efforts, and after-work happy-hours. These are all the trappings of people who work for someone else. Entrepreneurs are mostly lonely, anxious people, living on the edge of what’s normal. And when Gen Y gets an inkling of those feelings, they run back to corporate life. (Penelope Trunk)

Financial security over risk. Overall this point seems circumstantial more than generational. But I agree that right now, most GenYers don’t really want to own a business- it just sounds cool. I agree that at this point we don’t have the grit to take the plunge, and GenY should just admit their preference for security. We can’t afford to party like it’s 1995. In years to come, it’s likely that many GenYers will succeed at entrepreneurial endeavors. So as far as a lack of innate entrepreneurial tendencies? Two words: Mark Zuckerberg.

identitcrisis copy4. [They think they don’t believe in God.] Gen Y goes with the flow, supports any religion as long as it supports gay marriage, and hedges against any conflict by saying they are not really religious. (Penelope Trunk)

Conflict avoidance is valued more than personal conviction. GenY is repulsed by conflict and divisiveness, which is inevitable with differing ideologies. So aversion to conflict has led GenY to refrain from fitting into religious category, which leads them to believe that they must not believe in God. They’re not atheists, they are just don’t want to rock the boat. Agreed. In light of the never-ending Culture Wars I understand why GenY avoids conflict, but I’m wondering how the varying opinions and convictions of GenYers will clash in the future?

5. [Practical not revolutionary] Gen Y is simply demanding what their parents told them they should expect from the world: Work that matters and work that complements a life that matters. . .Gen Y is just doing what they are told. (Penelope Trunk)

WE ARE NOT BOOMERS. (or GenX)I’ve run into this one a lot with people my age. A lot of their supposed independent thinking is simply repetition of what their parents think, or something Oprah said. So they’re not revolutionary like their Boomer parents, but they’re not even really rebellious. After Boomers and GenX what are they going to rebel against?

Millennials- does any of this sounds familiar? Isn’t it time we admit it?

2 thoughts on “GenY Identity Crisis

  1. Rachel, I just found you on Twitter. I loved this post about Gen Y. I have raised two GenY kids, and I’m a boomer who thinks and acts more like a Gen X. I am thrilled by the new business generation because I can actually talk to them and partner with them without being a threat to them, as I seem to be with my own age group. Your generation is just beginning their blossoming, and it’s fascinating to watch your journey into power.

    This post was savvy, witty and accurate. Thanks for taking the time to write it and keep on blogging for your generation.

    By the way, congratulations on becoming a parent. I hope you find it as rewarding as I do. I still adore my children (they are both in their late 20’s) and I consider them my greatest personal success because they are decent citizens of the world.

    • Thank you for your feedback Valerie! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and it had a ring of truth to you. Also- I love being a mom! I hope to keep incorporating parenthood into my posts about Millennials. More and more people my age and younger are starting to have kids, which will inevitably change our outlook. I think Millennials could potentially be a generation who loves parenthood. (I’ll have to keep thinking on this…) Keep watch, more posts are on the way!

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