I’ve seen far too many articles debating why my generation are unhappy, and many of these reach the conclusion that we want too much, expect too much, are too entitled. Almost without fail, it is our fault. How dare we want happiness? How dare we expect pay that will allow us to buy a house? How dare we spend our hard earned money on frivolous things, like buying lunch rather than taking a bland sandwich from home to work everyday?
But they forget that we were brought up in a world of false promises. Told that by working hard we could get anywhere, achieve anything, we dreamed of the impossible. The idea that we could have a job we liked, a house, a car… Just like our parents. And why wouldn’t we? That was what we were shown, what we were taught… When at school they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up they didn’t tell us we might not get it or might have to settle for something else. We were given no reassurance that if it didn’t all go to plan, that was ok – just the assumption that it would work out. We were fed fairy tales where the protagonist is not happy until their dreams come true, and it was never suggested that maybe we were just background characters – backdrops for the protagonists of this world. The few with happily ever afters.
They told us to follow our dreams but didn’t warn us that as we grew our dreams would shrink from mansions to apartments, from acting to any stable job, from limos to bashed up second hand cars. They said to shoot for the stars but never taught us how to cope when we missed and crashed back down to earth. They changed games so that we could not lose lest our feelings be hurt and in doing so never taught us failure.
We were brought up to expect far more than we could ever have, in a failing economy that gives us less of a chance than our parents had. We were taught to work hard for an end result but not to enjoy the journey. We were handed dreams and ideas we are now mocked for clinging to.
And they dare to blame us.