I was watching author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek talk about Millenials in the Workplace(http://bit.ly/2fl1yUu) and about the challenges they have had to face and strive through to become probably the most misunderstood and attacked generation till date. In the age of constant chatter but not meaningful communication, instant gratification and its perpetual withdrawal symptoms, quick fixes and a multitude of choices, commitment becomes the rarest commodity – be it professionally or personally. Bear with me as I ramble…
Sinek says anyone born post 1984 qualifies to be a Millenial. I personally identify, even within the Millenial generation, two distinct strains – the ones born in between the 1980s and early 90s and the second includes all the rest born post that. Have you heard about the Baby Boomers? My curious little brain had and I did some more research to find that scholars refer to the generation born between 1946 and 1964 as the baby boomers, namely the parents of the first strain mostly. What I also found that is that this generation is most associated with privilege, rejection or redefinition of traditional values, higher incomes, an optimistic outlook and what not.
I am a proud 80s baby myself and while I do not relate to the latter strain of Millenials on a lot of accounts, I do relate to the Millenial experience in general. I think the 80s babies bore the brunt of the transition and like every product of transition, are in a constant state of flux. While Sinek raised some very valid points about the Millenial experience and how it affects the generation in the workplace, I think as a sort of bridge generation, an exception as well as the rule, I think it affected the 80s kids in a very strange manner. While I can launch a tirade about the kids after us, I would rather look inwards at what it is doing to me and my peers. The generation before us did not ask too many questions and the ones who did were shunned or ridiculed. Almost anything that threatened the prevalent norm was taboo or shrouded in polite hypocrisy. The generation after us was born into technology and learned to play with gadgets before it learned to talk or walk. The knowledge center is quite active with the bombardment of too much information too soon but with a lack of an emotional compass. Also language took a blow – SMS language and the lack of usage of the vowels is quite the indicator of that. *cringes*
The kids that were born in the 1980s – the ones in their mid-late twenties like yours truly to their early – mid thirties landed bang in the middle of this flux. We were mostly the last kids of the generation before the Baby Boomers or the firstborns of very young Baby Boomers. Our generation was born into the optimism of our folks and grew into the unaffected indifference of the generation after us. As a collective we grew up straddling both worlds- idolising the family structure and marriages and relationships of our parents with rose coloured glasses of nostalgia and balancing it with the blase, unfeeling cynicism bordering on dysfunction of the younger lot. Where does it leave us? TERRIBLY CONFUSED!
I make the generation sound like a struggling lot. Please don’t let me mislead you! We are the children born into privilege if our folks made smart life choices, comprise the highest potential in the current workforce, are beginning to make the big bucks or already are, have the fancy degrees and are the ones breaking away from the traditional careers to forge our own paths. We are probably one of the most independent and individualistic generations recorded yet. But it also leaves us quite lost emotionally if you ask me or go by the increase in cases of depression, addictions- alcohol/drugs, marriages plummeting into premature divorces or a whole bunch of commitment-phobes or perpetual singletons shunning traditional ways of cohabitation doing the rounds.
I think somewhere in the middle we convinced ourselves that what our parents had was impossible to find or worse still came from broken,dysfunctional homes ourselves and with the weight of the cynicism that comes with it. If I go by my own personal experience and habits and those of my peers, we pride ourselves in self sabotage and brave talk and choosing to shut down the emotional centers explaining the pain and confusion away either by over-rationalising or by hiding behind some kind of extreme behaviour – alcoholicism, workaholicism, solo travelling (which I highly recommend by the way), a series of superficial relationships amongst other things in a denial to deal with the actual problem or deep seated fear. Sometimes out of a lack of awareness and sometimes out of stubborn denial. I am learning slowly that the failure to have deep meaningful relationships stems from an inability to commit to ourselves in our utter confusion of who we want to be. We are caught somewhere between the blind traditionalism of our parents laced with the polite hypocrisy and various glaring issues it brings with it and the hyper intellectual awareness and emotional stunting and the greediness that comes with multiple options and the fear of missing out on the next best thing in the age of technology.
And I think it is lying in the middle that makes us such a confused lot. I think commitment as overwhelming it may seem comes from a fear of committing to our own selves and the indecision of who we want to be as people as we rush through the mundane trying to shut out the noise. Because when you know who you want to be and be seen as, it gets easier to makes choices in life. As I work through these realizations, I also feel and think that we need to find our own spot , our own middle path, without the hypocrisy of the past and the indifference of the generation after us, for while we may have borne the brunt of it, it is also our core gift to be able to access the best of both generations and set a new order of how things should be. We need to rise to the occasion as only we have the opportunity to ,authentically in balance.