“…happiness is no longer contained within one pursuit. Gone are the days of work-or-play; today, what we’re searching for is something meaningful, both in our professional or personal lives”.
Life used to be simple, compartmentalized comfortably into cultural, religious and social norms. People knew what they knew and were blissfully ignorant of the rest, satisfied with their function in society. Then globalism happened.
Ah, globalism. One of those university-marred terms people love to insert into pseudo-intellectual conversations that can mean nothing and everything. Simply put, globalism refers to political, economic or social developments that transcend national divisions. Whereas politicians and economists may argue differently, our social world is rapidly approaching a complete elimination of geographic borders, meshing together the common denominator of the next generation. With the world literally attached to our fingertips in the form of a computer or a smart phone, and the pursuit of knowledge depending more on our Internet speed than anything else, our starting point vastly exceeds that of generations preceding us. The world, both geographically and as contained in an application, has become our proverbial oyster. We have not only been aware of these changes but also been a part, clicking and tapping and 'sms-ing' our way into Alfa dog status: active, intelligent and frighteningly ambitious. We are the children of the 'Baby Boomers', the know-it-all, skeptical, trendy and insatiable Generation Y. And we are all grown-up.
Opportunity and development are terms that have naturally matured into our modern lingo, yet a boundless world opens up a vast can of emotional and mental worms.
The modern day quest to find harmony surpasses anything within the boundaries of ordinary. We are entering a generation of humanity where happiness is no longer contained within one pursuit. Gone are the days of work-or-play; today, what we’re searching for is something meaningful, both in our professional and personal lives. With life’s sub-categories amalgamating into one giant bracket, the balancing act our parents had to maneuver is much less pressing: we are of the idealistic belief that one day our searching will lead us to our subjective Utopias, without the pressure of societal age-group conventions. Our speculations of past generations just encourage this growth, and as we live in the mistakes made before us, it just pushes us further towards the need to reevaluate certain principles.
Whereas humanity has always been aware of this need for balance, Generation Y is putting it into practice, choosing jobs that are as socially and emotionally fulfilling as they are professionally. As ambitious as we are, we also refuse to live a life that isn’t comfortable for us, so inundated are we by the comforts that technology has provided since we can remember. We truly believe that we have no reason to sacrifice one entity of our potential happiness to fulfill another; we want our triple chocolate fudge cake with strawberries on top and we will sure as hell eat it too.
We’re not the only ones to blame for this amalgamation of work and life. Companies interested in hiring put as much weight on our life achievements as “life experience”, which has taken the form of travel and cultural awareness. If we thought that the days of padding our college applications with model UN and the high school debate team are over, we’re sadly mistaken. Companies looking to hire fresh out-of-college applicants skim our résumés for similar perks: our hobbies often become Freudian symbols into the depths of our personalities. Social networking has only catapulted this process, as it has gone from being a means to personal relationships to an additional glimpse into who we are and what we can provide for a company. We are highly aware of self-image and highly aware of what companies are looking for. This arrogance, though undoubtedly annoying – is our secret ingredient for success.
But wait – my social mirroring does not come without my generation-induced inclination for self-criticism. Our arrogance and perpetually unquenched thirst to squeeze as much as possible out of the world is not a free ride. Statistically, over half of college graduates return home to live with their parents after graduation, and even those who have technically left their nest are still financially supported. Case-in-point, as intellectual, ambitious and serious about our futures as we claim to be, neither I nor any of my closest friends are financially independent. Our quest for the perfect cake leaves us constantly jumping from one job to the next, confident that we’ll eventually find exactly what we’re looking for and unperturbed by our lack of consistency as long as the money comes from the depths of our parents’ pockets. Psychologists are growing weary of our adamancy to change previously established stages of adolescence and adulthood, forming new theories to define the period of “emerging adulthood” we seem to be stuck in.
In my opinion, these stages of “underdeveloped” development are long overdue. In the modern Western world our life expectancy surpasses 75 years; why should we be in any hurry to jump on the fast train to adulthood and leave behind the perks of simplicity and – excuse my blasphemy – fun? Why should we have to settle for less than exactly what we desire in a world pushing so forcefully towards technological and political advancements providing just that? As the first generation with the opportunity to be truly global, we are responsible for changing fundamental preconceptions of happiness and quality of life. We can only do this through the skepticism and curiosity that infuriates so many from preceding generations. The Western world – and here I allude to all of us, regardless of age – is so submerged in the murky swamps of materialism and overconsumption that we forget to ask the most juvenile question there is: ‘Why?’
Perhaps we will never discover our answer, and perhaps one day when the glory of youth has passed we’ll be compartmentalized right back into where society started. But until then we are equipped with the simple human desire for happiness, and the stamina, raw materials and time to achieve it. We are a diverse, interconnected unit of potential change and we deserve a little respect. So, you 'Baby Boomers' and 'Generation Xers': thank you for your contribution to the globe, but we’ll take it from here.
'Generation Y', also referred to as the 'Millenials', is a tech-savvy, attention craving, achievement oriented phenomenon taking over the workforce. The age-old cliché of “out with the old” is our motto, as new styles, music and even career opportunities wipe out what our parents recognize as hip and popular. We are 76 million young adults looking for something that makes us tick, and finding it is no longer confined within the boundaries of our immediate surroundings.
Economics, politics, social change, technological advancements – anyone alive in the past 40 years has been exposed to these terms; anyone growing up in the past 20 has lived vicariously through them and for them. As the world changes, its inhabitants follow suit, playing a perpetual game of tug-of-war between humanity and the incessant playground we call our surroundings. We have come to a place in modern development where we can look back on experience and learn from mistakes – we have seen debilitation, havoc, destruction, death. We have witnessed peace processes and hope and the power of rhetoric.