It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
The above aphorism isn’t just how one of my favorite books, A Tale of Two Cities, begins. It’s an adage that can well describe the times we live in today, too. And even more so, where the millennial generation is concerned. A millennial myself, I’d say safely, that we’re a much more confused, demanding, and impatient lot as compared to our fathers and forefathers. Yet, paradoxically, we’re also in many ways, a more ambitious, driven and sorted bunch of kids, each trying to claim his or her place under the sun. We’re competitive, yet believe in the power of coexistence. We tend to place tremendous importance on material pleasures and creature comforts, yet in many ways, we’re a lot less judgmental than our ancestors.
We party late till wee hours of the morning, yet we’re obsessed with fitness & morning marathons. We dream of owning Rolls-Royces and private jets, yet we’re also the social entrepreneurs, striving to make the world a better place, environmentally, developmentally, and even demographically. We’re disconnected, yet, in ways, even more connected.
A generation of contrasts. Divided, yet united. And if there’s one word that rings in unison, it’s passion. A term occasionally even overused, I’d say. Yet, passion is what acts as a major driver, taking us to our destinations. Passion isn’t just a buzzword in our dictionaries, its a core part of our DNAs. Other than passion, we’re also a generation with courage, the courage to believe in our dreams, the courage to take a stand, and most importantly, the courage to pay of price that individuality occasionally demands.
Somewhere along the course of my voracious reading, I came across an article, Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy which dug deep into the explanation why the millennial generation is relatively unhappier, as compared to the generations that came before them. And the deep-rooted logic did make a lot of sense, which is why I’m reiterating it here. On average, our grandparents’ generation, across the globe, lived in times of tremendous global turmoil. The World Wars, the Cold War, the Partition in India (which my own grandparents were first-hand witnesses to). Time underlined by unrest and suffering. For most born and brought in this era, self- survival, and protection of close kin became the sole agenda for their existence.
Our parents’ generation, most of whom saw the suffering their parents had undergone, understood the importance of stability in day-to-day life. A stable job, decent money, a happy family – became life goals for this generation, determined to give their children what most of them didn’t have access to – good education being a prime example.
And the succeeding generation, our generation, that reaped the seeds sown generations before. We hadn’t seen the struggles of our grandfathers, and we got access to the love, money and care of our fathers. An improved educational system, free media and rapid globalization ensured that we didn’t remain holed up in a shell. Added to that, the emergence of the internet, which made geography practically irrelevant.
And if you’d ask me, it is some of these major transitions that aided a free-spirited mind, independent thought, giving rise to individuality, occasional rebellion, and deep-seated creativity, among the generations that yearns for separate, independent identities. Personal interests, ranging from travel to fencing to philately, emerged into ‘passions’. And open acceptance of these passions meant breaking down of barriers, as far as traditional roles were considered. Emergence and meteoric growth of new industries like Advertising, Pharma & the various dot-com ventures gave rise to innumerable new professions, ending the notion of having to be a doctor, lawyer or teacher to lead a respectable life.
What markedly differentiates this generation, is that they don’t separate work from life. They want to make a good living, and they want to taste success fast. But the underlining factor here is that they also want to do all of this while they’re having fun. They’re brave. They’re bold. They’re always ‘on’ and on-the-go. And with their professional, personal and social lives constantly merging into each other, they want to design their lives, to suit a lifestyle they love.
And it most certainly works that the world today is structured in their favor, looking at the fact that there have never been as many creatives, entrepreneurs, scientists and what nots, as there are today. A world where passion, and not money, safety or security becomes a key, if not the only reason behind choice of career, lifestyle and money making option. As for the uncles and aunties and mommies and daddies who keep telling us why we have to be travel bloggers and tech entrepreneurs and tattoo artists, when we could be ‘safe’ things like accountants and engineers, sorry to burst the bubble, but I’d like to believe that this is a fad that’s here to stay. For a good few generations at least, if not more.