OVER the years, I have had the pleasure of dealing and growing with the Gen Y, which is mainly attributed to my career as an educator. I also run training sessions on Creating a Generation Action Plan (G.A.P) at the workplace and have had the pleasure of listening to views from different generations about the Gen Y. But let us take a step back and understand why the Gen Y are the way they are.
In one recent training session one participant highlighted that the generation that is critical of the other is the same one that raised them. We are products of our predecessors. Having said this, I would like to bring your attention to the story of Lucy. Many would have read about Lucy on social media and the internet so, let me summarise it here.
Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s. Lucy also makes up the Gen Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies (GYPSY) who think they are a main character of a special story.
So Lucy’s enjoying her GYPSY life, and she’s very pleased to be Lucy. However, Lucy is unhappy. To understand why, we need to unearth what makes someone happy, which brings us to this simple formula:
Happiness = Reality-Expectations
It’s rather straightforward: when the reality of someone’s life is better than they had expected, they’re happy. When reality turns out to be worse than the expectations, they’re unhappy.
With a transient, more positive life experience than that of their own parents, Lucy’s parents (weighed down with infants and a mortgage) raised Lucy with bounds of optimism and unbounded possibility. And they weren’t alone. Baby boomers all around the country told their Gen Y children that the sky was the limit, instilling the special protagonist identity deep within their psyches.
This left GYPSYs feeling tremendously hopeful about their careers, to the point where their parents’ goals of a green lawn of secure prosperity didn’t really do it for them. A GYPSY-worthy lawn has flowers.
Amid these challenges, the Gen Y have to grapple between reality and expectations. Some have survived while many are still coming to terms with reality and through this ardous process have fallen into the jaws of debt.
However, admirably, being force fed the mentality that passion should guide their career pursuit by the predeceasing generations, Gen Ys have subjected themselves to a “Hustle” mentality.
Tons of Gen Ys are launching start-ups becoming their own employers in lieu of working for “the man”.
While the dream is free, the hustle is sold separately. This hustle mentality has led Gen Y to become the “slasher generation”. They are no longer simply a journalist or server or an engineer. They are a barista, a screenwriter or even a dog groomer.
An accountant might do web design in his spare time or a bartender may be the author of a budding foodie blog. Such confidence and risk was never reflected among the Boomers or Gen X, who were not risk takers or probably, complacent with their times.
Personally, I am a firm believer in the idea that making mistakes is important, if not fundamental for personal development. While we may have our flaws, we need time to learn what they are before we can learn from them.
So maybe it’s time we stop chastising the younger generation for the mistakes that haven’t even been made yet and applaud what they bring to the table. As singer Kanye West said, It’s time for the rest of the world to stop musing over “back in the day”, because ... “Homey, this is my day!”
R. Murali Rajaratenam is a senior lecturer with the Faculty of University Foundation Studies at HELP Matriculation Centre.