Nov 26, 2019 | The millenial curse
Just as all people born between 1981 and 1996, I can classify myself as a Millenial (also knows as generation Y). Neil Howe and William Strauss coined the term Millennial in 1991 to describe kids who will be about to graduate from high school in 2000. What are the characteristics of Millenials as a generation? According to Wikipedia, Millennials are also known as the me-me-me generation: lazy, narcissistic, craving for attention and spoilt. Since we have the picture that we should change the world and make an impact to be successful, most Millenials are deeply frustrated at work and have a feeling that they do not live up to their full potential. For the same reason, we tend to swop jobs. On the good note, we are rather good at teamwork, we care about the work-life balance, and we know the value of rest and family life.
Well, I was thinking a lot about my identity as a Millennial these days. This is because since my PhD contract has expired, I somehow started turning towards making (or perhaps, trying to make) impact. I took a resolution to listen to intuition when making career choices, and I didn’t know the endpoint when I was starting. It was more like gardening: I felt like a wild plant that grows on its own, and it does not know in which direction it grows. Yet, it will grow further and further, and this is given for certain—it will choose the directions in which it feels the least resistance.
So, I was just trying to focus on tasks that make the most sense in the current situation. After a long and difficult PhD, it felt natural for me to set up a foundation that helps researchers with their careers. It further felt natural to start a consultancy company working in this area and to think about a future startup that would also help people find jobs in better ways. I did not even care whether I had competences to do all this—I badly wanted to work on this topic, and I did not hesitate to try. So, is this happening because I was predestined to work on helping other people in finding jobs, and I have just discovered my ultimate purpose, or rather, because I was born a damn Millenial and I am hardwired to attempt to make (some) impact? Is this what I was born to do, or rather, was this what I was influenced to do by the culture I Iive in?
I am often questioning this because our culture lies a lot, namely telling you that ‘you can be anything you want’, choose any profession, and if you try hard enough, you will eventually become successful. Even given the numbers and probability of calculus, this is not possible. Not everyone can be the head of a large organization, a top YouTuber, or a popular author. Even given talent and determination, there is still a massive luck component to career paths associated with building impactful projects. Why would be me who makes it?
I know the numbers yet, for some reason, I cannot stop. The more time it takes, the more peaceful I am becoming about the decision to go my own way. I had some doubts of course, but the more time passes since my last employment, the more I am convinced that I will never sit behind an office desk again and that I will be building new projects instead. At the moment, the vision of sitting behind a desk and completing projects assigned by some boss to cash some salary and go on vacations to Thailand seems quite abstract right now. I just have more important things to do. It is scary but I will try.