Recently I was at a friend’s home enjoying the typical snack of crackers and cheese as we discussed our future plans and potential careers. Our daydreaming was cut short when our conversation veered towards the potentiality of a bleak future greeting our generation, Generation Y. For those born roughly between the early 1980s to mid-1990s (other sources may say the 1970s - 2000), you are considered a member of Generation Y, also known as the Millennials.
Generation Y has been described as chock-full of people who are confident, open-minded, egocentric, technologically savvy and seeking immediate gratification (we can thank Facebook and texting for that).
According to multiple studies, news reports and economists, Generation Y will be awoken with a bucket of ice cold water in the form of a lack of post-graduation job security, an inflation of credentials (i.e. “You need to speak 2-3 languages and have obtained a Masters degree in order to be considered for this position.”) and rather dim economic prospects.
Depressing? Yes. Frustrating? Heck yes. So should we just label ourselves as Generation Y Bother? Not just yet.
Past generations in North America were given a more concrete and linear outline of their life plans: go to school, get a good job (or stay at home, if you were a female), marry a person of the opposite sex, produce 2 to 4 offspring to complete your nuclear family and then retire.
Thanks to modernity through globalization, improved technology and our ever-increasing population, today’s North American Generation Y has a less predictable yet more progressive life plan: go to school (dependent upon your area of study), date, mate or marry a partner or fly solo, procreate, adopt or choose not to have children and retire early, late or never. Add a pinch of travel, a dash of volunteerism, plus an allergy or dietary restriction, and now you have Generation Y.
With this nonlinear projection of what the future holds for Generation Y, we have the opportunity to be even more bold, brave and random than our parents were in their thoughts, actions, and dreams. We have to embrace the unexpected.
On a recent class trip to New York, I had the pleasure of meeting author and human rights advocate Irshad Manji. She offered a piece of advice that every Generation Y baby should hear: You do not have to build up your resume for a job that already exists. You are alive in a time where you can mould a job of your own and create a unique future plan.
While reality showcases the doom and gloom of environmental degradation and the alarming control that technology now has over civilization, Generation Y showcases the diverse potential of humanity. We have been called the Peter Pan Generation (a fear of growing up) and the Trophy Generation (everyone is a winner) but what about embracing the title of Generation Y Not?
As a proud member of Generation Y, Chelsea is pursuing her passion of social justice in her extracurricular work and as a fourth year Human Rights & Global Studies student.
Published in Volume 68, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 5, 2014)