Millennials are by and large, pretty unhappy. Our generation is wrought with discontent and wholly critical of the current societal structure and its consequential demands on us as individuals.
Why is this? We are surrounded by unending social communication. We are never not “plugged in.” We can FaceTime long lost friends and family at any time, Snapchat every waking moment of our uneventful days, Instagram the highlights, and swipe right or left on an app to find a suitable significant other. We are living in an age of seemingly boundless technology and access – but we still aren’t happy.
Millennials want the exquisitely designed townhomes and the luxury sedans. We want the timeshare in Mexico and the first-class flight to Vegas. We want the 5-star steakhouse and bottles of Opus One. We want all of the status symbols that we think will finally turn us into “successful adults.” But what we don’t want are the crappy jobs that come before all of that. We complain and grumble about our meaningless jobs filled with people we can’t stand, trapped in cubes doing monotonous tasks that are slowly killing us inside. We are so incredibly bored, but don’t want more responsibilities.
In fact, we don’t really want any responsibility at all. We just want to be able to do our own thing: take vacation when we want, brunch when we want, shop when we want, spend money where and how we want. We desire complete autonomy, but none of the responsibilities that come with it. We have our bottomless mimosas and brunches, perfectly filtered Instagram photos in Aspen, and the latest matte black iPhone 7. We’ve got the Yeezy Boosts, the Louis Vuittons, the Apple Watches, and the luxury apartment on the 12th floor. And yet, we are still unhappy.
We don’t want the responsibilities, but we want the payoff. We don’t want to have to grind away at our bullshit jobs, but we want the cushy retirement. We don’t want to seriously date with the intention of starting a meaningful relationship, but we want the picture-perfect marriages and significant others to enjoy that future picture-perfect retirement with. What gives?
Our generation gives value to things that don’t deserve it. We are valuing things over experiences. Text messages over real-life human interaction. One night stands over legitimate relationships. No wonder we aren’t happy.
We have spent our entire lives rebelling from the status quo (or so we thought). “We’ll never be our parents,” we shout, “We’ll never be a slave to The Man!” We want international adventures and “journeys to find ourselves.” We want yoga retreats and jobs as surf instructors. We read articles about people abandoning their corporate jobs in lieu of working at ice cream shops in Tahiti and living a perpetual vacation. In our coup against our parents’ lifestyle, arguably, we have lost sight of the important stuff.
We don’t want to be tied down, because relationships are for suckers, right? Marriage is when life starts to take a downhill turn. RIP to your buddy at the altar. You’ll never see him again. Better cherish that last fling before the ring, because wine nights with your gal pal are over for good. Our parents got married at 25, and we think they must have missed out on so many adventures because of it. But what adventures? The repetitive Sunday brunches with the same squad? Getting drunk at the same bar every Friday night and going home with a different Tinder date every weekend? If you ask me, the things we are valuing aren’t giving much back to us in return.
We don’t want to own homes, because that is too permanent. We want the option of leaving at the drop of a hat to go do whatever pleases us. We don’t want children, because that’s definitely too permanent. It means we would have to be responsible for someone other than ourselves, to have our own needs play second fiddle. All of those “grown-up” things seem archaic. We aren’t trying for the 1950s American Dream anymore. We like casual sex and unchallenging jobs over marriages and careers. We long for feelings of contentment, satisfaction, and success. But we deny anything and everything that might look like we are following in our parents’ footsteps.
We don’t want the responsibilities and we don’t want to have to do anything that isn’t fun or self-servicing. We live for instant gratification. That’s fun for now, absolutely. But we can’t live like Van Wilder forever. Invest your time and money in something worthwhile. Invest it in yourself, in your relationships, in something meaningful. As much as we don’t want to admit it, that white picket fence with a wife, two-and-a-half kids, and an SUV really ain’t lookin’ so bad. We fear missing out on these unknown “adventures,” but we are sacrificing a lot in that process. One day we will have to look back and ask ourselves, “How did I spend my twenties? Was it worthwhile?” If the answer is, “Go to brunch and take Instagram selfies,” maybe we ought to reassess our priorities. .