Many young people hate their jobs.
Let me rephrase that. Many millenials who grew up being told their whole lives that “if they just try hard enough they could change the world” dislike the fact that after pouring years of sweat into countless semesters of college and endless “save-the-homeless” drives, they are only fetching coffee or answering phones for some more grown-up person, who hates their job.
It can’t get any better, right? This is the reality of our twenties in a recession, but not the ones we’d always imagined. We careened through school with stellar grades, hoping to reap the rewards of success that we’ve heard about from high school teachers, parents, mentors and coaches.
We just forgot about the part where we actually have to well … work for it.
See, we millenials have a dirty little secret. We all want to change the world, become president, and move to Silicon Valley. But some of us lack the patience and perseverance to make that happen. It can’t entirely be our fault, right? Not only did we grow up with “do better” platitudes plastered on our classroom walls and watched the first African-American man get elected (twice!) as president, but we also grew up on the cusp of rapid technology. Which made everything in life quicker, convenient, and faster.
Thus, we believe success should come to us quicker. Conveniently. And Fast.
As in yesterday, not tomorrow. Because that $30K/year job just doesn’t work with all the designer work-wear we need to buy.
It’s hard not to get worked up when stats about the most powerful people on the planet are thrust in our face constantly. We as a generation genuinely aspire to see change – especially in a world that seems to have become so corrupted and worn-torn by adults acting like children. We so desperately want to heal the wounded in developing nations, create life-changing legislation, capture bad guys as the lead of the FBI, write award-wining screenplays with dope messaging. We want to be at the top — and that I must say of our generation — is laudable, especially because that percentage of us that are self-motivated still remains small.
However, our “do better” attitude is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s righteous to celebrate the fact that we can change the world and we have the opportunity to do so. As millenials we are sitting upon the laurels of what our forefathers fought for. The civil rights movement opened up doors of equality for African-Americans. The women’s liberation movement roused a collective voice that said we were no longer going to be defined by rolling pins and ironing boards. We know the history of where we come from and because of that female millenials are more driven to succeed now than ever. We know we can “do better” because, hell, if we don’t we wouldn’t be living up to expectations of those who came before us. And we’ve seen it manifested as several bright minds take on the world in various spaces of academia, business, entertainment, government, and so forth today. As our college friends enroll in law schools and Ph.D. programs, we’re filled with an urgency to achieve. We can, will, and to want “do better” than those who came before us.
It’s that same inherent testament to our historic pasts though that also creates a stir within us when we’re asked to run copies months after receiving our freshly minted college degrees. We sit uneasy in our entry-level positions, dreading the return to work every Monday and wondering why anyone hasn’t noticed our potential or given us the corner office at the age of 25. As much as our impatience drives us, if not handled carefully, it can be the hop-skip to an incessant feeling of “being lost” in the world — or worse, keep us clamored in a tight crab race that divides us rather than unites us.
We must remember on the road to success that the car breaks down along the way. Sometimes we’re going to have to stop and get gas or even spin that hoopty all the way back home and take a different route. No one said success was easy. We have to be willing to embrace the struggle. It’s those days of meaningless work and cushy low-responsibility jobs that encourage us to not only strive for more, but also prepare us to be fearless leaders for tomorrow. Trust me in knowing that your journey is just as beautiful as your arrival.
In all our misty-eyed misery there is a light. Some of us will struggle more than others for success, but we all must recognize that those years of curbing rent payments, eating ramen noodles, and leaving mascara-stained teardrops on our pillows will all be worth it. Those countless ruminations of “doing better” will be part of our individual journeys in finding and defining ourselves as we grow. By hating our jobs in our twenties, we learn that our hearts won’t sit still in mediocrity. We also learn to live on purpose, to follow our passions, and to never give up.