Did you have a good weekend? I hope so! Lindsay and I had so much fun catching up and hanging out this weekend in her hometown of Kansas City. Seeing a good friend does wonders for the soul.
Today I wanted to talk about something I've been grappling with and mulling over for a few weeks now. I began to think about it after seeing this Huffington Post article, entitled "Why Gen Y Yuppies Are Unhappy". If you haven't read the article, I suggest you do, but I'll go ahead and summarize it for you: The author purports that Gen Y's (people born between the late 70s and mid 90s) are largely unhappy career-wise because we were raised by Baby Boomer parents who instilled in us a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility.
As the '70s, '80s, and '90s rolled along, the world entered a time of unprecedented economic prosperity, and the Baby Boomers did even better than they expected to- leaving them feeling gratified and optimistic about their careers and the world, and they passed this optimism on to us, their kids. Because our parents told us we could do or be anything, our career expectations are set wildly high. What is more, whereas our parents had the expectation that they would need to put in years of hard work to eventually achieve success and financial stability, Gen Y'ers simply believe being immediately successful and fulfilled in our career is "our right."
Although mildly offended at first, I feel the article does bring up some valid points. Before I delve in to that, I do want to make a comment on our generation's supposed unfounded optimism and sense of self-worth. Contrary to the author, I think having a positive outlook on life and your ability to shape your career path is vital to happiness. Nowadays, with more time spent at the office than at home, I think doing something you feel some pride in and passion for is a necessity. When I made the decision to leave my "stable" oil and gas job to go back to school and work part time for an interior design firm, I was met with a bit of understandable skepticism from coworkers and acquaintances. My salary was immediately chopped in half, I no longer had health benefits, and there was no guarantee for longevity in the interior design field. The only thing I truly had was my own positivity and belief I could eventually make it. Sure, maybe it was a bit foolish in the eyes of some. But, as one of the commenters underneath the article said,
"If I knew it would take me almost 20 years of hard work to start feeling successful, I might have given up. Optimism is hope, something everyone needs and guards against becoming jaded to the weight life puts on you." Of course, that doesn't mean we should feel as if we are superior to our peers or that we don't need to put in the hard work and time others before us have. Which brings me to my next point:
I often forget that most everyone who has achieved a significant level of success spared blood, sweat, tears, and years of hard work before getting there. The article talks about Gen Y's sense of urgency to be immediately successful, and I can relate to that. I think this urgency is sometimes propelled by the blogosphere, where bloggers can gain a large following seemingly overnight and turn their site in to a full-time career. I also think it is perpetuated by Facebook and other social media outlets, where we are constantly "image crafting," comparing ourselves to our peers and their supposed successes.
I've noticed that since restarting my career and going back to school, I've set some pretty unrealistic expectations for myself. Sam regularly says to me, "You need to learn to stop and smell the roses." Although we joke about my workaholic tendencies, it really is true that I don't have much patience. I've become obsessed with trying to create a blossoming business for myself RIGHT THIS SECOND. It was only recently that I thought to myself, "Why the rush?" I have my entire life to build and develop my career. That doesn't mean we shouldn't work hard or strive for achievement; just that we should adjust our expectations a bit and realize building our career takes time and experience.
So I've made the conscious decision to stop putting unrealistic pressures on myself to achieve a level of success that isn't practical at this point. I'm brand new to the interior design industry, I'm no expert, but I'm excited to learn and grow.
Read the article, share your thoughts below, and join me in slowing my roll.