My little sister recently came up to visit with my dad for the weekend.
She’s 14 years younger then me, which means I spent a lot of time as a teenager trying to convince strangers she wasn’t my baby.
I love the kid; she’s smart as a whip, witty, and more interesting than a lot of people I know.
Besides the fact that I have an innate bias to her as blood kin, I’m incredibly intrigued by her and the way she views the world. After all, she’s currently in the age group that is pioneering the post Gen Y generation, gaining the names Gen Z, iGeneration, and Generation Wii. Generation Wii? Really?
This is the generation made up of kids like the 8 year old at Big Fisch’s “bring your child to work day” who asked who Michael Jackson is….
Who is MICHAEL JACKSON?! I’m going to start carrying one white glove in my purse at all times just in case I need to give a live demonstration of THE King of Pop.
I remember studying generational differences in a college class and feeling highly irritated at the emerging descriptions of my generation, Gen Y.
Entitled, lazy, narcissistic, Gen “Me”… there seemed to be more negative generalizations than positive. I could see where some of it came from; we were children raised in a world with poor leadership and dying dreams and we started to lose interest in authority and planning for the future.
But hearing employers and professors gripe about our “difficult” age group made up of “trophy kids” made my blood boil. There’s always a few bad apples (or should I said spoiled rotten apples) in the bunch, but I wasn’t about to let them ruin it for the rest of us.
As far as I was concerned, I was willing to show you what I was made of. I just needed to be given the chance.
I, like many of my peers, don’t want to simply be told right from wrong, up from down. I want to see it; understand it; have more of a reason to believe it. And because of that, in many ways my generation has been one of experimentation in the way we act, look, and think, and we really don’t care if it ruffles your feathers. In fact we kind of like some ruffling; we know life isn’t a stroll through Pleasantville and we aren’t interested in pretending it is.
Skeptical though we may be, I think there’s a lot more to us. I think we have a lot of untapped potential and when it comes to being underestimated, my tolerance runs out quickly.
More and more recently I’ve been feeling this growing burden inside that says so do something about it! And not just for myself, but for this next generation who’s having to navigate through a world that measures their worth in “likes” and “followers” and preaches that narcissism is perfectly normal.
Discerning truth gets incredibly tricky. Remaining grounded in who you are is hard to do when society’s goal becomes “aim to please, aim to impress.”
The question becomes, so then what?
So how do we take all the momentum from the highly efficient Generation Y and Z and use it for good instead of watching it get sucked into a downward spiral where our quest to be likable ends in the loss of our true identity?
I don’t know the answer, yet. But I do know know that bringing about change requires us to step out, speak up, and be prepared to face criticism, knowing that what we believe in is worth it.
I want my sister and future kids to know that who they are inside is much more important than the image they work so hard to craft on the outside; that their worth is never found in the opinion of others. And their potential? Unstoppable.
And for crying out loud, I want them to know who Michael Jackson is. Long live the King of Pop!