The generation of Now (5): Freedom and responsibility
I think it is probably about time I shared musings about my own generation and what our place in the world means to me. I am 30, born in 1982 which places me within Generation Y. Obviously I can’t speak for all of us, but I can certainly share my own impressions based on the experiences of my friends and I as we make our way through life.
The most striking thing to note is that at aged 30 (or so) many of us are still openly exploring and trying to find our way through life. Unlike my parents, who were settled with a mortgage, 2 children and steady job prospects, many of my friends around my age don’t seem to be anywhere near this set on their life path. Part of the reason I live and work in/around Brighton is because I feel I can do something other than the quiet, suburban existence of my parents and our family life. I have always been quite sure that I want to make my own choices; that I want to pursue things I love and find my own version of fulfilment.
All of this seems to fit with what I’ve been reading about Millenials, particularly with relation with our careers and what we want from our employers. Put simply, we are pretty flexible and we are comfortable with iterating and changing the plan to get the most out of life, but we also demand a high degree of flexibility and fulfilment from the careers, people and places we get ourselves involved with.
With this broadening of the scope for carving out a life, we find ourselves with choices upon choices. Choices our parents worked really hard to give us along with an appreciation of how precious that choice is. There is less of an established pattern for growing up and living and much more a sense that we need to decide for ourselves what works best.
I love having as much choice as I do! For example, without it I’d still be stuck in a job that bores me. I only found the job I now love and that is challenging me a year ago at the age of 29. I would also probably have experienced huge social pressure to settle down, raise a family and follow a traditional, well worn path for growing up and making a mark on the world. I’m glad I have the opportunity to explore how to create the kind of life I want to lead. I also find the amount of choice I have weighs on me quite heavily sometimes and friend have expressed a similar feeling. I feel a great deal of responsibility to use the power of choice to make the most of life. In short, I feel I need to achieve objective success (as my parents did) while managing to prioritise my family/loved ones (as my parents didn’t always) and also find deep happiness and fulfilment (as I know my parents struggled to do while I was younger) while also worrying about my ethical & socially responsible footprint in the world. It is a difficult balancing act and I’m not always that good at it!
I feel my generation has both the gift and the burden of choice; of flexibility; of iteration; of learning from the past not just by blindly reacting against it, but by considering the possibilities for action and trying to make a rounded decision about how best to proceed. What I can’t tell is how short sighted by my own blinkers I am and how much truth there is in my generation bound view on it. What I have also just realised with horror (literally as I write this) is that, at 30, I now have to consider the gap between mine and the next generation. I’m not within the young ones of society anymore. How on earth did that happen and when will I ever feel like a grown up?
I’d love it if you’d share what you think – particularly if you want to challenge me on my thoughts and opinions. I objectively can’t see the things I’ve already assumed are a given and perhaps this goes for a whole generation as well? Others with a fresh perspective can often give valuable insights into the pitfalls of our thoughts …