In my last post on Giving up on the idea of “career“, I discussed why I am letting go of the idea that I have any control over my career, and I am going to stop killing myself for jobs that aren’t healthy. Even good employers will always keep their business goals at the forefront… as they should! The mistake we make is that we get our self worth caught up in it all, when really it often has nothing to do with us at all. I’d been giving this a lot of thought, when I ran across this article on Bright Side called “Why Generation Y Is Unhappy.”
While there are parts of this article that I didn’t always feel applied, the general concepts rang true, and I loved the inclusion of Unicorns in the infographics. I think some of my abrasion comes from the tone of the article, which leads me to believe it might not have been written by a Gen Y, but perhaps a Gen X’er, and it felt a slight bit accusatory. That, or identifying with the Gen Y, I might have felt slightly defensive until I was well into the article. Either way, the crux of the article rings true.
The Happiness Equation
The concept breaks it down to a simple equation.
Happiness = Reality – Expectations.
It goes on to describe the construction of the Gen Y’ers family, constructed of WW2 grandparents, their baby boomer parents, and themselves and how the upbringing and culture of each generation has shaped the world of the Gen Y’er and how their parent’s lives and careers have shaped their expectations. How these expectations are incredibly ambitious, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing… but that it can ultimately have detrimental effects on our overall happiness.
Perception of Reality
The next part grated a little, as it discussed how as part of Gen Y, we were told we are “special”. I wanted to refute it, but it is true. My parents have always pushed me to never settle, to push forward, and been incredibly proud of my accomplishments. Accomplishments I had striven for since I am ambitious. Ugh… ok so it was a liiiiiittle bit true.
While I don’t feel I myself have quite as extreme of a perception as the case depicted in the article, the concept is sound. Even in college, we had this pressure to get out of school and conquer the world. This pressure to get married right out of college, buy a house, look successful. And with each success… we post it on Facebook. All of the positives, the accomplishments, we share. The downsides of being a 20-something young professional are left out. I would joke about how I would buy a bottle of wine every payday, pop the cork, and use it to wash away the tears as I paid my bills, but you certainly wouldn’t find any mention of that struggle on social media. Kidding aside, being fresh out of college is not easy, and the idea that it somehow should be easier by the time we are 30 is a dream.
I’m not trying to be a downer, rather, I’m just accepting that I have bought into that illusion… the pressure that I put on myself to be accomplished by now. The article uses great graphical representation to illustrate the feelings of inadequacy brought on by this constant comparison.
This ties very nicely in with the feelings I have had as of late. Feelings that I am not living up to my parent’s expectations. To my own expectations. That my friends will pity me for not living up to these “goals”. Yet, pushing and striving towards these goals that I have sub-consciously created for myself didn’t make me happy. What I am starting to realize is that I’ve built goals based on what other people have expected from me, but not based on what makes ME happy. Working towards a goal that is not my own will never lead me towards happiness, and while I am not sure where that leaves me now, I know that I am still ambitious. I am still driven. But if I can re-direct those energies towards goals of my own creation, goals that will ultimately make me happy, I will be far more successful in my own eyes.
I’m not afraid of working hard. I’m not afraid of the daily grind… as long as I can live life for myself… with a few regrets as possible. You may not identify with this article. You might not agree you fit this profile, but I do think that there is a bit of truth, however small, about how we are not necessarily living our lives for ourselves but for the perceptions of others. If we can shift our perceptions, we can all come ahead on the equation of happiness.