Whenever I’ve declared to loved ones that I believe I’m going through a quarter-life crisis, they chuckle. They think it’s a joke. And really, I don’t particularly blame them. You see, our media has portrayed twenty-somethings to be carefree and blissfully youthful, with “their whole lives ahead of them”, so what could they/we possibly have to worry about?
The thing is though, I don’t think I have ever felt carefree and youthful; particularly not once my twenties started. With my twenties came more stress, more responsibility and more pressure. There is not only an overwhelming pressure for young people today to go to college and qualify in a particular discipline, there is also the addition of social media to ensure we always compare ourselves to our friends.
I know it’s inevitable at this point that older generations may be thinking But young people have so many opportunities nowadays! Gone are the days of fighting for your rights! The world is a sea of possibilities for young people today! And yes, I do get that. I really do.
For instance, if I was born as a woman in a different time, I likely would have birthed 4+ children by now and be chained to the kitchen sink, with no access to a blog, and most likely I wouldn’t have directly chosen this life. I probably wouldn’t have had any access to education, at least past primary school level, and a rewarding career was most definitely out of the realm of possibility.
I have complete and utter respect and adoration for the women of the past. I really do. They birthed children, cared for them, managed the home, cooked, cleaned, nurtured their husbands, and in a lot of circumstances, were rarely even acknowledged for doing so. It was merely a cultural expectation that that is what you did as a woman. There was no choice involved. That was the only path for a lower class woman in the past. But, were they happy? Quite simply, I cannot answer that. I cannot speak for the women of the past. But I can only assume that if they were happy, it was merely that they never had the opportunity to know anything different.
My point is, ones happiness is hugely dependent on ones circumstances. Nowadays, us millennials have been brought up to aspire to greatness. I recall that as a child, it was merely assumed that we would all finish secondary school and progress to third level education, become an academic of sorts, and achieve this mystical greatness.
In fact, I cannot recall one instance from either my primary or secondary education in which a teacher made any insinuation that us (the future generation) could achieve greatness through a trade, through a retail job or through being a homemaker. It was merely assumed that we would become professionals and achieve GREATNESS.
And through this upbringing, we began to believe that once we were adults, we would be fulfilled and free and well-off. And yes, maybe us millennials became entitled as a consequence to this. Through our upbringing, we were taught that we were special and important and by merely being qualified and having the patience to study at third level for 3/4 years, this magical greatness would embrace us. We wouldn’t embrace it, but it would come running after us because we were that important.
The thing is though, by the time we reached that level, of finishing college with honours, there was no greatness to be had. I distinctly recall in Ireland when the R word hit the media like an incurable virus; Recession. It meant that before I even finished secondary school, I knew that my home country was in a terrible state. At one point, you couldn’t turn on the news or open a newspaper without a mention of this DREADED RECESSION.
But still, we were urged socially to finish college and achieve greatness. And if we didn’t achieve greatness, well that was just our fault for being entitled and unwilling to work from the bottom and go the extra mile; which apparently are traits that us millennials are severely lacking.
So, why are millennials so entitled and unwilling to succeed? Is it really as black and white as that? As a millennial, I say no. I was brought up to believe that I would instantly achieve this wondrous greatness upon reaching adulthood. I was brought up to expect greatness and fulfillment. I was brought up to expect more. And yes, maybe I was brought up to be somewhat entitled.
Admittedly, obtaining a degree in something as obscure as TV and Media Production was probably not my most sensible decision. Perhaps naively, I chose to follow my dreams because at the back of my mind, I thought doing so would ensure greatness.
Unfortunately, it has been three years since I graduated from college and as of yet, I have not secured greatness professionally speaking. To date, I have completed a 9-month internship for a community radio station, have worked in a banking call centre, and have worked in IT. Admittedly, I am proud that I have sustained employment for the most part. However, it has not exactly been the employment I was raised to aspire to.
I’m going to be completely honest here. I feel disappointed in myself. I feel disappointed that I have not achieved the greatness that I was taught to aspire to. I feel disappointed that at 25 years of age, I’m not fulfilled. I’m not happy. I don’t feel young and carefree. I feel lost and as though life is something happening to me; not something I determinedly and shamelessly embrace.
I have to ask at this point… Is this all there is? Is adult life really this hard? Is adult life really about typing ones days away in the office and budgeting ones earnings to pay for your bills and rent? If so, do I really even want to be an adult? I genuinely don’t think so.
But again, I have to ask the question… Am I only feeling this way because I’m an entitled millennial?
Have I been raised to have impossibly high standards for myself? Have I been brought up to think that I am entitled to greatness?
Truthfully, as a non-psychiatrist, I cannot really answer that question. But I can, as a millennial, make the educated presumption that my upbringing has taught me that I am special and deserving of the best of the best.
I do think that there is an unbelievable pressure on young people today. Both professionally and socially, we are constantly being compared to one another and called entitled and delusional.
Maybe this is true. But is it our fault? I don’t think so. I actually think that our older mentors; teachers, professors and parents, have attempted to make us millennials more successful than they perhaps ever had the opportunity to become.
Is this all there is? Sadly, yes. Adulthood is adulthood; regardless of if you’re a millennial or not.