Despite being better educated, more technologically advanced and more globally connected than any other generation in the history of the United States, my generation is generally perceived as arrogant with the need to be continually coddled and praised by those before us. Generation Y (aka the Millennial Generation) is the bridge between the old and the new and yet we are fighting an uphill battle in what I believe to be an unfair fight.
Despite common belief, we know the difference between a championship trophy and a participation ribbon because we received both. As an athlete for most of my life, I can tell you first-hand that I never asked for a medal. Did I come to expect one at the end of the season? Yes. I’m a creature of habit and I know that a pizza party with the team means that I’m getting a trophy with my name on it.
“Congratulations on finishing the season,” is what my coach should have said, instead of… whatever he did say. We all got trophies and we were all “winners” despite losing half of our games. Apparently our scores were worth double or something. I don’t know. I’ve never been great at math. Anyways, that “give ’em all a trophy” mentality didn’t last long. For me, it stopped in third grade when I left district soccer to join a travel team.
No longer were my achievements of attendance rewarded with parties and nameplates. Oh no. It was quite the opposite, in fact. I learned at age nine-ish that only hard work would put a trophy on my shelf. If we didn’t win, in the traditional sense, as in victories, we didn’t get anything. Actually, that’s not true. We were rewarded with more practice. And lo and behold, we started to win more and more because the desire to earn that trophy that we had grown accustomed to receiving, drove us to become better players.
This logic naturally transferred into my schoolwork and everyday activities. Hard work plus practice equals success. Success equals reward. It was as simple as that for me.
Now, I’m not saying that my story is typical of my generation. I know I was fortunate to be in that situation, especially at an early age. However, whether it is at age nine or nineteen, every single person in my generation goes through a similar transition.
So to say that we’re all looking for handouts at every corner is simply incorrect.
With that being said, there has to be some truth to this notion or it wouldn’t be as large and common as it is today. Clearly, some of us are overly confident and unaware of how to professionally carry our business and ourselves. However, there are a great deal more of us that realize that there aren’t shortcuts to success in life; we’re just not getting a fair shot to prove it.
When we walk into a room, we are immediately judged because of preconceived notions of who we are and what we’re really like. So, from the start, we’re already fighting an uphill battle – one that is difficult to overcome.
So, on behalf of my generation, I’m asking that you please try to look at us individually, as opposed to lumping everyone together because we’re all connected. If anything, the only trait we all share is the desire to be great, which is something we were brought up to believe could be accomplished. In elementary school, we wrote countless essays on “What I want to be when I grow up…” and I guarantee none of us said that we wanted to be handed a single thing. We all strived for greatness and learned, just like everyone before us, that the only way to achieve that was through hard work.
When I was nine, I wrote that I wanted to be a professional soccer player when I grew up. Well, now I’m all grown up and the only thing I want, is to not be treated like a kid for the rest of my life.
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