Narcissistic and Lazy Generation? What is Wrong with Millennials?
Millennials are entitled, narcissistic and lazy- but it is not their fault.
Are millennials really that bad, or just misunderstood? And, fair or not, how can they overcome the negative stereotypes when trying to get a job or get ahead with their life?
“A lot of studies show, that they (millennials) are not really that different from generations before in what they want for their lives—they just have a different background,”Andrew Challenger
Are you one of them?
I was born in 1991 and grew into an average user of digital technology and social platforms. Even though my parents (as a generation of baby boomers) are pretty skilled in this new digital world, I am swallowed and my life is greatly influenced by this new phenomenon. I am almost 29 and still have not figured out my life. I am not married, have no children, I have only finished my university and guess what? Since graduation two years ago, I have been struggling to get a decently paid job. I believe, I am speaking for many others, who are stuck in the same situation. We do not want to settle down and start our family yet (even though we would love to) Why? Because we are unable to build a sustainable safe base. Am I the only one? Am I just not smart enough? Should I study harder? Work harder? Or just stop trying to wait for the “perfect” moment of being ready? Many of my peers are settling down, having decent jobs, and popping out babies. So I can´t generalize, because this particular successful group of millennials proving it is possible. But what about the rest of us? There are millions of others who feel about the same.
I have met so many people and had countless conversations about the “challenges of our generation” and still could not figure out, what has actually happened to us. Is the rest of us really just selfish? Afraid to give up on freedom? Refuse to grow up? But at the same time, we still desire to settle down and have a balanced life. So what is it? There is something undefined in the air. Previous generations see it, we see it but we can´t explain it. Not until recently, when I encountered a very deep observation of our generation by Teal Swan. She is an American known as a spiritual teacher, author, and social media personality. Swan teaches how to manage mental health issues and she receives criticism for how she attracts fans. Her teachings were discussed in a six-part audio documentary series by Gizmodo in June 2018, furthermore, she was also the subject of a documentary film “Open Shadow: the Story of Teal Swan” released in 2017.
Beyond lazy stereotypes of Gen Y. Spoiler alert: NO!
Regardless of identifying with her teaching and philosophy, the Millennial observation she made recently will touch any person who feels this particular way. In the following paragraphs, I briefly summarize Swan´s main points and reasoning that is necessary to read through in order to understand the connection. Ultimately, her input will either put the pieces together for you as she did for me. There is no need to be backed up by relevant research to actually see, that what she is saying, makes a logical sense for what we are feeling today.
You can disagree, you can call it “search for an excuse”, but I have this urge to share Swan´s account and give us a chance to rethink and connect the dots, so we can learn from our mistakes, find the way out and start living the adult life that our generation is refusing to.
Swan explains the Generation Y (Millennials) and warns in advance, that to have a discussion about a group consciousness, it is necessary to generalize. I just want to clarify, this is a huge generalization and as I mentioned above, there are countless examples of successful millennials who may or may not identify with current challenges. However, the ultimate idea, that Swan expresses, will definitely touch conscious people within all generations.
Dive yourself into an understanding of Millennials struggles
To begin with, it is important to understand the trend within the human race for generations to dispute with one another. Repeatedly, the young and the old find fault with each other, and the millennial generation is no exception. Swan calls the millennial generation- a game-changer generation. She further explains that millennials come into a collapse one way of doing things and to rebuild a new way of doing things entirely.
We can all relate to the generational differences. Our grandparents did things a certain way, then our parents kept something and invented their new own approaches. Now it is us who are in dispute with grandparents and parents and we often hear “back in our times, we used to do…”, you can literally hear it, right now. What makes our generation unique to any previous one is, that we come to adulthood at the age of information when there are so many choices. An interesting point she makes when she says: ” Millennials have also come to restore humanity to free will…What millennials have come to do, is to make it, so that humanity does not follow the path of determinism.”
What is determinism? – the philosophical view that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. In this context, it means, that there are two roads for the generations to follow. On the first path, one generation does things this way and the next generation does it exactly the same way. While on the second path, one generation does things this way and the other generation does things in the exact opposite way, which is just rebellion. In fact, rebellion is also determinism. And we can see, this is what has happened with the human race since the dawn of time.
Swan´s further explains that this reactive pendulum swings from one extreme to another. For instance, active pendulum swinging from one extreme to another. For example, the silent generation (born between 1928-1945) felt it was unwise to speak out and the baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) spoke out violently against things, expecting, that doing so would improve things. What Swan meant when she said “Millenials have also come to restore humanity to free will” is that millennial generation was designed to get humanity out of this pendulum swing.
We should think of millennials as is the cards are up in the air generation. They are the generation that is meant to see the shadows and change them. They are the generation that gets the way things have been done will not work anymore. However, millennials ended up opting out of the game because of trauma and therefore contain the shadow of their own. These shadows that are existing within millennials’ consciousness must be seen and properly integrated. If they are not, what´s going to happen is that millennials will go down as the wounded generation. Therefore, Swan aims to bring these shadows into everyone´s awareness and integrate them, otherwise, this generation is going to be deeply unfulfilled for the totality of its existence.
These wounds that exist in the millennial generation cannot constructively look at without understanding and compassion. Swan highlights the need for compassion and understanding, in order to step forth into space, where she explains the causation of the millennial wound.
Causation of the Millennial wound
The millennials were born in the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. To understand them, we need to understand what happened in the world from the 1980s to now. Further, we need to understand childhood for the child growing up in the 80s and the 90s. Swan hits some key points to get an overview of the causation of the wounding. Swan refers to the topic of failed parenting methods that existed back then. She explains, that children before the 1980s were exposed to all kinds of detrimental parenting methods and failed parenting strategies. But most parents were unconscious about this, simply put expectations on their children assuming, that the kids would magically meet those expectations and they would all pan out okay. But it is important to know that, because of what was and what was not happening within society at large. There was still a chance that even with a failed or poor parenting methods, that a person could still carve out an adult life for themselves that was okay.
Failed parenting methods
In the 1980s views about parenting methods actually changed. Members of the boomer generation started to recognize some of the detrimental effects of those failed parenting strategies that their parents had. So what they did, is they started looking for alternatives. It was the era of the parenting book- about parent power, sleep training theories were born at this time.
The single-family home became the norm and divorce skyrocketed. Because of this, children lost access to many emotional and self-esteem resources that previous generations had access to when it comes to meeting their needs. What Swan means by it, is that if you look at the boomer generation, they were running around in a neighborhood of kids, so those children all count as resources for emotional needs and for mental needs and even physical needs to be met. Before a single-family household, people were living with extended relatives. Each one of those relatives is another resource that a child has for meeting their emotional, mental and physical needs. So what happened in the 1980s and 1990s with this graduation away from that structure of society, is that these children began to lose resources, after losing resources, after losing resources.
Conscious parenting and damaged generation
Boomers raised their children with a blend of unconsciously exactly what their parents did and also nothing like their parents did. For example, kids were left unsupervised for large chunks of time because there was a lack of awareness about many of the dangers that parents are now all aware of. This unsupervised game came with both benefits and dangers. At the same time, parents tended to be much more controlling in certain ways hoping to be able to dictate the outcome of their child´s adult life- doing well at school, getting good grades, getting a good job, certain things with money behaving. They thought it would all lead to social success, etc.
Millennials were raised with the carrot and stick
Millennials were also raised with the carrot and stick, punishment reward approach. The most important thing to understand about parenting in the 80s and the 90s says the parents essentially indoctrinated their children with the idea, that if their kids followed what they said to do, that there would be a carrot waiting at the end of that rainbow. Also, that if they did not, meaning “if you don´t go to school and get good grades and go to this college and do these things, the way that I am saying to do them, that it would mean consequences or pain”. What happened with the millennial generation, these children, they jumped on that train “okay sure” and they committed their energy to do exactly what mom and dad said.
Yes, we all we raised towards these believes- “study hard, work hard and positive results will come”. And guess what? It is not happening.
“The millennials were dumped into adulthood with all forces against them. It´s a little bit like a little birdie, who´s about to fly the nest and when they do, they fly into a hailstorm. And guess what. That´s a hailstorm that will last for the rest of their life.”
The system against Millennials
Bearing all in mind- failed parenting methods- Millenials entered adulthood with a lot of developmental delays. They also entered the society at a time of the financial collapse. Since childhood millennials were told ” hat getting good grades, going to a good college, getting this type of partner, doing these things with their money would yield positive results.” and it did not. In fact, it led Millenials to exactly to the situation, that they had been though to try to avoid. The situation today is, that even with the degree, many of them can´t get jobs. No one is retiring yet. Overqualified people have to take jobs, that they would not have considered before.
Millennials are competing in the workplace against their parents’ generation and even the grandparents’ generation. Because there is a backup of a natural cycle of job progression to retirement.
Feeling it? Is not your degree, resume still not enough to get the first job? Companies expect to be young and fresh in their 30s with 15 years of experience?
Not only Millenials can not compete against resumes of those to be already retired, but this generation also has not been brought up for competition.
Unprepared for competition
Parents and teachers encouraged equality and now, millennials found themselves in a highly competitive environment, that they were unprepared for, had a debt that they could not pay back, no use for their degrees, and had to go back to their entry-level jobs, that they held before and during college.
Millennials came to terms with the reality, that they would most likely never be able to own a house/apartment or be able to afford to have kids. Suddenly, the pay-off or the reward, that they were promised and motivated by parents from early childhood, looked like it was a ´fantasy dream´.
“A fantasy dream, millennials are still expected to go for and criticized for not achieving. And to make matters even worse. Her we are in 2020, and the millennial generation is experiencing retraumatization relative to the COVID 19 pandemic. And most especially, by those shutdown and control measures, that were enacted by a member of the previous generation, who are currently in control in the government.“
Right now, many of the millennials who defied the odds. Those are millennials who broke out of the pattern and started their own businesses. With the pandemic currently, they are finding themselves in the exact same position, that their fellow millennials have been in, who have been stuck in crappy entry-level jobs forever. Those millennials, that were stuck on the hamster wheel, this COVID-19 situation just made everything in their life even worse than it already was.”
The overwhelming meaning and feeling are – “I have been duped, what I was told is bullshit, it does not matter how hard I work or how many things I am trying to do right, I´m not in control of any of it. They, the generation above me or others, can just make a decision, that makes me totally powerless and never being able to achieve something or powerless to it being taken away just like that.”
Set up for a failure
“That´s what changed with the millennial generation.”- Swan concludes. The millennial generation feels completely set up for failure by the previous generation. Therefore, the millennial generation is now incredibly distrustful generation. They are a generation who is obsessed with authenticity and what´s real and the truth.
Millennials experienced investment of their energy and things as having no pay off whatsoever.
Can you relate?- Investing of your energy and things and having no pay off?
This is what burn-out is all about. It´s not about putting too much energy towards one thing, it´s about putting so much energy towards something and having things work out.
That´s why the millennial generation is the burn-out generation.
“If you believe that investing your energy and effort into something is going to have no payoff, how invested are you going to be – not very.” Swan questions.
The laziness that many people attribute to the millennial generation isn´t laziness- it is a lack of investment and engagement.
This is why Millennials having a very hard time recognizing or believing that anything positive will come out of their effort, time, and investment. Because of this, they lack a lot of patience, because they don´t believe in a long-term payoff. Would you? After what was just described?
Disillusioned and cynical generation
This a deeply disillusioned and deeply cynical generation. Along the same vein, professionalism is something that people need to have an incentive for. There has to be a payoff to behaving professionally, in order for someone to be professional. And so many of the elements of professionalism like dressing well and doing a good job at a task or being reliable or keeping one´s emotion in control simply feels like control tactics rather anything that gets them any particular payoff. Seeing nothing really panned out has done something interesting.
It´s thrown millennials into an existential crisis. Another way of saying this, it´s thrown millennials into a quarter-life crisis.
This generation cares about finding the work that is meaningful and fulfilling right now rather than putting their energy into something that may be painful or they don´t want to do for a future payoff later. Because they were told that putting their effort and energy into things in a certain way would yield positive results, and it didn´t. What the millennial generation woke up to was “wait a minute, they did not do it actually for my best interests, they did it for their best interests”. If every man is out for his or her own best interest, then it means that the law of the land is every man for himself. They understood, that everything in this world was narcissistic and that these narcissistic strategies for self-interests were gonna play out against them.
The ME, ME, ME Generation
Instead of deciding to be loving and deciding that they were gonna break that mold, they adapted. Now, the way the millennials adapted to that awareness, that it´s every man for himself, is to say “alright, I want to become a shark too then” and “I guess, the only person who´s there for me is me”. Naturally, they became hyper-focused on their own best interests and withdrew their loyalty to others. They became “me, me, me”, like that was the only way, they would ever get their needs met.
This is a narcissistic way of being, that makes it very hard for millennial to be a functional member of a team. This is a drastic contrast to previous generations. Previous generations have held the perspective, that to be a success in the field, that they had to work hard at creating and preserving relationships no matter the cost. The millennials have seen this is exactly what screwed them, so they have the reverse mentality.
To be a success and feel good, you have to fight for your own best interests and keep a loose connection to people and things.
Looking at all this, Swans presents the second major wounding within a millennial generation. Meaning of all this? With me resonated and connected the dots to understand the frustration: “This generation put all energy into something, working super hard but attained nothing as a result. That sounds familiar- somebody else works really hard for no return, ou yea, slaves!“
You can listen to the entire video for more details and reasonings: