Lacking Clarity: An Essay on Myself and My Generation

The other day on Facebook a video came up which was captioned ‘The Problem Millennials Face’ or something equally as clickbait-y, and because I was probably in bed and scrolling aimlessly, I played it, and it was a man saying that millennials (ugh) were struggling in the workplace because, ultimately, they had been taught to be ‘impatient.’ They were used to “instant gratification” and needed to learn to be patient to get through life.

I’ve since found the FULL video (watch here) and he does in fact go into a bit more detail about it (this is why you should always google what you find on Facebook) and the comments are filled with various agreements, disagreements, arguments, random unrelated comments, and FREE FOLLOWERS comments, so I started trying to think about how I felt about it. To some of his points, I agree (I don’t agree with his patronising tone, and I don’t agree that it necessarily applies to an entire generation of people as everyone is different, this is just how it relates to my personal experiences), I agree that generally, now, people are used to instant gratification, and instant news and instant updates, and to a certain extent this causes impatience. We have a whole world at our thumbs, a bigger world than the one we live in, and anything we order, ask, post, watch, is delivered or posted in an instant. We watch videos on YouTube now, on Netflix, rather than watching an episode a week, rather than buying the boxset. If we get bored, we can move on. We can order 5 dresses, have them arrive next day, and send them all back. I find it hard now to watch an entire film or have a conversation without looking at my phone at least 5 times. I feel constantly distracted and on edge, which is one of the reasons why I think it is much more than ‘impatience.’

I feel like I can never focus on just one thing. I am always trying to do 4 things on my to do list at once, I am reading 2 books at once, people (not me as I am happily relationshipped up) talk to multiple dates at once, watch multiple shows or people on YouTube, read multiple blogs, and people are getting multiple qualifications, multiple jobs, multiple opportunities. In many ways, our lives now are more fulfilled and full than ever before. We have so much information available, so many choices so many things that we can do at once, so we’re amazing! Constantly multi-tasking, constantly taking in new things and learning new information, but for me, this is the problem. Simon Sinek in this infamous video states that “there’s a missing piece” for this generation, and I think for me, that has always been true. Also, we are ‘qualified’ for more, but it’s now worth less. Where once you needed a degree, now you need a degree from a certain University with 5 years experience in your field and 4 people who need to recommend you for a job. Our parents taught us that to be happy we need the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect jobs, the perfect life, but so many of these things are now out of our reach because of past generations, and because of the speed the world is moving. Everything we were taught that we needed to be happy is getting further and further away.

Speaking as widely as I dare, I think many of us have been taught that there’s always something better out there, that our parents want better for us than they have, better houses, better schools, better roads, better leaders (LOL that one backfired) and so on. Couple this with social media, always seeing people with something more than us, a better body, a better partner, a better car, a better life, then suddenly our life has turned into always trying to reach this “something better.” I have fallen prey, and continue to fall to this trap. I had a good steady job, but thought that retail wasn’t enough, wasn’t good enough, so I went to something better, in a ‘better’ city with ‘better’ money and ended up absolutely exhausting myself and ending up here, still kinda unemployed. Something I really struggle with it in is fashion, as I always feel that there is that one item of clothing that I NEED to be better, to make my wardrobe better, to make me look better, but whenever I get it, there’s always another one. And that is the way with everything. There is always something more.

I feel like because we have so many opportunities, there are so many boxes to tick. Have you travelled to every continent? Have you slept with enough people, but not too many? Have you lived in a big city? Have you reached enough followers? Have you really achieved everything you could? I never feel like I am fulfilling what I could, because the list of what I could do is constantly growing. I feel that I, and many of us, lack clarity, because there are too many directions now. When my grandparents were younger, you found a job and you stuck with that job and that was the way it was. And although I’m grateful for the world we live in now and the ways we have moved forward, I’m worried now that I will spend my whole life exhausted, constantly chasing what is next on the list. Where is the clarity for us, when whatever choice we make, someone will be there to tell us that it’s the wrong one? Or we’ll see a picture of someone living a different life to us, with a different filter, and suddenly doubt our own decisions? And how can we ever achieve clarity where we have constructed these goals that aren’t real? Everything we wish for, or that I wish for definitely, is not real, it’s not something substantial.

I often laugh about my inability to decide anything, but maybe it’s come from this fear of making the wrong choice, because there are just so many. In the video, he says that millennials all “want to make an impact” and I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think WE want to make an impact, I think we have been taught that we SHOULD want to make an impact. And as it gets harder and harder to be individual, or even be noticed, we worry more and more that that impact we should be making has gone. Every career and country and city is over-saturated. I am writing this blog post, but I know not many people will see it, because there are millions of blogs out there. Millions of people writing, or drawing, or doing whatever they are good at, trying to see a way forward, but there is no way forward because it has been clogged by everyone trying to draw over it.

I do not think that we are impatient. I think we are scared of making the wrong choice, and of missing out on what we don’t choose. I am not impatient to make an impact in a job, I am scared of choosing the wrong career path, when other people I know are succeeding as actors, teachers, in publishing, marketing, everything.

One day I think I want to just travel the world. The next I want to start saving so I can buy a house. I want to have a baby. No I don’t. I want to live by the sea. No, I want to live in a big city. I want to work in an office. I want to work from home. I want to wear this today. No, actually I want to look completely different. I want to study English. No I want to study Politics, or Philosophy. My brain is a never ending whirl of choices. Choices that I can ask Siri to look into, and suddenly I know more about them. Ooh actually, my phone is in my hand, maybe I’ll just check how many likes my Instagram has. 10 minutes later, I’ve forgotten what I picked my phone up for in the first place.

I am not impatient. I am inundated with too much information. I just want some clarity. I picture our lives kind of like a massive suspect board, you know from an old school crime show? Say there’s your picture in the middle and the string is going out to the things that make up your life, or the things that could make up your life. There used to be not much string, and you could see it easily and work it out, but now the string is criss crossing all over the board and over your face and over other people’s faces, and you can’t even see yourself anymore, let alone where you should be going or doing next. Just give me some clarity, and you can keep your impatience.

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