Hey Millennials, We Need To Talk About Our Failures

Have you ever had the feeling that you’re drowning in a vast sea of opportunities? That there are so many paths you could choose that you’re undecided about which one will lead you to your destination. And where is it that you want to get to anyway?

Sounds familiar? Well, fret not, little millennial. You’re not alone.

I have entered the job market at a time when it is absolutely normal to spend the majority of one’s day working day writing emails, participating in web-based conference calls, and doing social media marketing. The internet has become our main method of communication, in our work and private lives. It has opened up an abundance of new opportunities that didn’t exist before the digital age. In fact, it’s probably never been this easy to become successful.

We hear stories about Mark, 19, who created an app at age 13 and is now a billionaire. Claire, 25, who turned her hobby into her profession and is now selling her hand-made soap in her online boutique shop. Or Michael, 31, who created a viral video about environmental problems that helped him to promote his environmentally conscious line of biodegradable shopping bags.

And although success stories are inspiring and necessary, we are led to believe that it is in fact easy to be anything you want to be. But, the illusion that it is easy “to make it” and “to follow your dream” is often overstated. Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 95% of startups fail, and about three-quarters of the companies that receive venture capital never return the investment. And let’s be honest, who has enough money to start up a business with their own savings? But why don’t we ever hear more about failures? How come we only celebrate success but don’t recognize failure? Do millennials have a blind spot when it comes to “not making it”?

And, what if you are the one whose idea failed, the one who doesn’t know what he/she wants to do, the one who’s unable to convert all potential opportunities into real-life successes because you haven’t figured out yet what your passion is?

This is why we need a more open dialogue about failure. I don’t wish for anyone to fail, and I think success should be celebrated. I really admire my generation for being entrepreneurial and daring enough to follow their dreams. But I also observe growing irritation among my peers who are frustrated that they do not fit into the “creative genius” millennial profile. For us, the abundance of success stories not only highlights vast opportunities but also emphasizes our own limitations.

Talking about more about failure could help many to find out how people actually transform their passion into reality, and what it really takes ‘to make it’. Because maybe Mark, the app developer, had to live off baked beans for a year before he started making profit. Maybe Claire had to give up 70% stake of her company to get funding. Maybe Michael had to knock on many doors for years before anyone started showing interest.

So if you are one of those millennials who hasn’t not figured ‘it’ out yet, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns. You might be surprised about how much sharing insecurities can help in obtaining real, valid advice.

Apart from being a writer, editor and online marketer, Eva Schoof enjoys running, cooking and blogging. 

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