Millennials live under depression, but they won’t show it. They would fake it and tell the world how amazing their life is
Introduced by different names; the Selfie generation, the generation Y, the We generation or the Me generation. Millennials are, depending upon whom you ask, the people born between early 80s and late 90s; a generation that claims to be cool, social, tolerant, just and all-knowing and are always entitled by elder counterparts as Self-Interested, Unfocused, Lazy, Tough to manage and the generation that would leave their children worse off than they did.
Well, Hold on! Does your birth year fall somewhere in this range? If it does, you may want to take a deep breath and sit back relaxed because everything I am about to say is going to be about you and those you beat the time with!
Millennials prefer not to identify with their generation because of the negative stigma attached to being a younger adult in this age, but the self-entitlement they carry around with them is exceedingly strong. No matter which corner of the world they belong to, they share their thoughts and beliefs. You will find them preaching about how everyone is equal and that nobody should be treated differently because of their occupation, race and social status. They believe in gender equality, religious harmony and support any steps taken towards betterment of human life.
Behaviorally as a generation, they have been compared with the so called Greatest Generation, those born between 1901 and 1924 or the Civic generation for the fact that they have strong affinity about civic order, family centrism and dependence on trustworthy institutions. But then know them a little deeper, it sure seems that their beliefs and actions don’t align parallel. If one could sum up their hobbies, they would include social media, Netflix, chilling and of course the blame game. Blame game? Well, not owning anything that goes wrong around their clock and the responses like ‘I didn’t do it’, ‘It wasn’t my fault’ and ‘That’s not my problem’. That seems to be more of a generalization about this idealistic generation and you may have dealt with millennials who are just opposite and ready to take the responsibility for anything odd happening out of their hands. True! Millennials are no exception to the rule of exception and many of them are quite different from majority. But I want you to know that we would speak about millennials as a major global cohort and their ‘triumphs and falls’ as a generation, not as an individual.
Let me tell you something great about this generation, something that brings them to the spotlight and worth anthropologist’s time. They don’t want to live to feed their families or get through the life, they would rather want to live a purposeful life and have an impact. They are fame obsessed and believe in recognition than rewards. They are the most exciting and threatening generation who are not here to take over the establishment of their elder counterparts the ‘Baby Boomers’, but to grow without one. The industrial revolution has made them so powerful that they could move to any city in the world, start a business and form an organization.
The information revolution has further empowered them and handed them over the technology to compete against huge organizations. They are hackers vs. corporations, bloggers vs. newspapers, YouTube directors vs. studios, offenders vs. nation-states and app makers vs. entire industries. Millennials don’t need any establishment; they would rather create the one of their own. That’s how their elders are scared of them and out of this threat they are being labeled as narcissists, selfish and immoral and sometimes atheists.
Having mentioned their positivity, enthusiasm and activist thinking, there is something strange I want you to know about this generation, something that I have keenly observed in my decade long association with them, something that only few researchers have been able to notice and something rarely spoken about, something I feel, given to the fact that I am myself a millennial!
We are speaking about a generation that literally had to do nothing for themselves until they graduated. Even after graduation, only few of them went on their own. To tell you a fact, their parents didn’t want them do anything either! They wanted them build the academic record and extra-curricular activities, not the work history. By the time they prepare their mind to work, they find the saturated labor market and a mountain of competition to deal with. If someone calls this as care, I am ready to be a bit in their face and say, not on earth!
It is this care because of which millenials are struggling, yes they are! They don’t get paid off for what they have learned in their life. Most of them, if not all of them; seem to be a mismatch with the world we are living in. They don’t see the world as they were told it would be and they find it pretty hard to adjust. The way they were grown up, they were made to believe that they are special and could possibly have anything they want in their life. Literally speaking, most of them have had almost everything they demanded. In India, this started with the onset of nuclear families and enormous circulation of money after 1991 economic policy that significantly raised the standard of life. The parents were able to meet every demand of their kids which unintentionally developed the sense of instant gratification in them and a habit of impatience with the things they need. It is because of this impatience they don’t want to stick to one particular thing for longer. They get bored of relationships way too early; they want their degrees to finish as soon as possible and can’t wait for weeks to watch an episode of a famous serial. Believe me; it is because of this impatience of millennials that the concepts like Netflix and Amazon Prime have found ground!
In a politically destabilized state like J&K, they kept on passing the exams not because they worked hard for it but they were given the benefit of doubt, out of state conflict that hit the education system in the gut. In schools their parents have shown up quite often, which in a way pressurized the teachers to deal with them leniently and put them to ease. They have been given certificates and medals for not doing much. The justification for this comes from the fact that many of them don’t show up in the colleges and schools citing the conflict as reason. Ironically, such students are allowed to sit for the term exams neck to neck with the ones who worked hard and showed up all year around. This not only developed the sense of ease for them but an understanding that they don’t need to work hard for anything which further undervalued the reward of those who deserved it.
Having worked at higher education level for many years now, I have noticed this strange policy of the state universities of not stopping a student of the exit semester from appearing in the examination, even if the student does not meet the criteria. The authorities somehow believe that stopping or evaluating them as they deserve would jeopardize their degree and students would face problems in future. They think it is inhuman to declare a student disqualified in the last semester that has spent four or five long years pursing this degree. What they don’t realize is that many of their students have reached higher levels by favors of this kind only and that’s what they expect from the world then i.e. leniency and favor. Somehow these students graduate, not exactly! We make them graduates. But when they dive in into the real world, they find themselves lost. The mechanics of the world is nothing like what they have been made to believe. There is no ease and nothing comes by just demanding it. They find themselves in the world that out-rightly lives by the transactional mood, where your parents can’t complain for you and secure you a certificate, the world that believes more in numbers than emotions. All of a sudden they find they are not special and they can’t have everything they want - at least not without the hard work.
If any of them happens to find a job, the work hits them in the face like a ton of bricks and they are stressed beyond relief. This is not because of the work overload; it is because they are not used to work. For those who manage to handle the burden, the impatience and expectation of ease and leniency doesn’t go away. Nearly 40% of them believe that they should be promoted every two years, regardless of their performance. An average millennial will job hop 20 times in his career and their average tenure at a job is just 2 years compared to the 5 year average of their predecessors. While some researches present these stats in a positive way for millennials proving how growth oriented they are! I believe this is only the lack of commitment and knack of instant gratification about the things they want in life. The instruction driven environment of the corporate doesn’t suit millennials who have been helped in life rather than instructed. This becomes the reason why they don’t make up with their bosses. Consequently, they have labeled their bosses as one of the primary reason of their attrition.
Having grown in an era of remarkable connectedness, millennials are used to instantaneous feedback about anything positive they have done in life. The false parental care has always shown softness on their wrong acts and immediate praise for the good. With the same notion they enter the work life and expect same behavior from managers and other higher ups. But guess what? The corporate doesn’t work the same way. Your boss doesn’t always praise you for a good, that’s what you have been hired for! And he isn’t soft on your mistakes either. You also don’t get immediate feedback about your performance, it shows annually or bi-annually in your work appraisals. All of this puts the patience of millennials to test because they have not learnt this type of life, no one ever told them about all this. While many of them may have excelled in high school and college, they don’t find themselves to be a fit in current structured world of work. Apparently, their entire self image is shattered, which consequently leads to the generation that grows with lower self esteem than all previous generations. This however seems no fault of their own, this is how they were brought up, what they have been made to learn and this is what they were told to expect from their life.
Millennials live under depression, but they won’t show it. They would fake it and tell the world how amazing their life is. You would get to know about their filtered personalities through their social media profiles. They have been somehow made to believe that they would only have to concentrate on where they want to go and not really focus on how to get there. They have possibly got ‘The Secret’ wrong because they don’t seem to consider the Alignment part of it. They have just been trained to ask for what they want and then wait for the ‘universe to Answer’. They have been shown the beautiful castle on top of a steep mountain where they want to go. What they have not been told about is the steep mountain and all the hard work it takes to beat it. Apparently, when they get going for the journey uphill, they get tired in the very first few minutes, breakdown and want to quit.
(Author has worked as Full time Faculty at Department of Management Studies, KU, North Campus)