Is Gen-Y Expected To Do Great Things Immediately?

by Patrick on October 25, 2010

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Dave Nicoll

I was 22 when I started my first job at TMG. I sat in a cubicle cluster with three women. Two of them were about my age.

Or were they?

I always felt like my co-workers there were much more ahead on life than I was. It was hard finding a reason why I felt that way. Maybe it was a big gap in maturity or where they were in life, but those two-three years difference in age felt like much more. Maybe it was because the young people around me were fast starters. Maybe it’s because I don’t do brunch, bookclubs, or any of the sophisticated things Washingtonians love to do.

All I know is that I am going to be 27 in a couple of months and I don’t feel like the 27 year olds that were around when I was 22.

In fact I look around and it just appears that as I get closer to 30 there should be so much more I should be accomplishing with my life. Today’s world continuously expects more from our youth as they accomplish great things at a younger age.

Mark Zuckerberg is 26 and invented Facebook.

Willow Smith is an actress and now has a single out. She’s 9.

Nicole Lapin is 26 and is an anchor for CNBC (and is still looking good too.)

Jenny Blake graduated college only a year before me and is publishing a book (which will include some tidbits from me!)

People under 30 are doing great things out there around the world or in my backyard.

Has the timeline for success shrunk with Gen-Y? Is anybody else out there feeling the pressure to succeed immediately thanks to the great accomplishments others in our class?

  • Daniel

    But isn’t a lot of this internal as well? Gen-Y seems to believe that they must (or are entitled to) explode onto the scene. To not toil on the mundane but be extroidinary? There have been a lot of articles about the difficulty in managing Gen-Y, in that they are seem unwilling to do their time in the trenches before having their shot.

    • Patrick

      Yes, this does bring up the idea of Gen-Y as a privileged generation, and maybe this relates back to how we were raised to believe we can do anything we want. I think this also applies to a smaller level however- how about those that thought they would be doing a certain job or working in a certain industry only to find themselves not even on the path to getting there?

  • Elisa

    It’s even better when you are in your early 30′s. You don’t have the tenure or “experience” of Gen X and you aren’t the next young prodigy anymore.

    I think that’s why people start families at this point in their lives. What the hell else is there to do?

    • Patrick

      Very interesting point. Also that’s probably when I’m getting married- when I’m 30.

  • Alice

    eh. i get sort of depressed if i think about that sort of thing too hard, but honestly i’ve never felt the overwhelming desire to be a hot-shot. i get my enjoyment from life in much more mundane, daily joys, and being a household name or a “success” in the traditional sense doesn’t rank high enough for me to get upset that i haven’t performed as well as mark zuckerberg.

    • Patrick

      Proof that my generation isn’t all privileged.

  • Liebchen

    I definitely feel this on occasion – everyone else has a plan and all these accomplishments, what am I doing? It’s not that I really feel unfulfilled, I just wonder if I should be doing something more.

    • Patrick

      Exactly, I we all realize that perhaps we won’t be star athletes or rich and famous- but we all still yearn to do something great in our own sense.

  • Len

    Look on the bright side…at least no one hates you because you can’t get the privacy thing right.

    Alice makes a good point. Think about what drives YOU, not what drives someone else or what other people think should drive you. Focus on that and you’ll be successful. It’s just that your definition of “success” will be individual to you.

    Oh, here’s another 20-something to be jealous of: Jenn Sterger. How many 27 year olds do you know that have pictures of Brett Favre’s, um, grey beard?

    • Patrick

      I wonder how much Jenn is being paid not to cooperate with NFL Security…

  • Chrissy

    I’m 23, graduated from college a year and a half ago and semi recently (around 6 months ago) found a steady job as a graphic designer. I feel SO behind. I feel like at 23 I should be starting my own design studio, have tons of clients and work experience and at my peek. But, that is certainly not the case.

    Having all this young talent thrown at us every day doesn’t help. I haven’t seen Social Network because I know it’ll make me feel terrible about myself…

    • Patrick

      Those are great goals and there’s nothing stopping you from taking that first step- especially when it’s something like starting your own business!

  • Nicole Nejati

    How you do decide what an “accomplishment” is? Is success defined solely by corporate standards? Does spending months building houses in New Orleans after Katrina count as an accomplishment? How about mentoring inner-city high school kids every day after school and seeing them achieve their goals? I think Gen Y is caught up in succeeding solely by corporate standards, with little regard to accomplishments which are more paramount and monumental in the long run. Concentrate on what success means to you and you’ll do great things I’m sure! :)

    • Patrick

      I agree- I think that the idea of success is defined by you. It’s not that Gen-Y is caught up with other people’s standards, but maybe Gen-Y is dreaming bigger and refusing to settle for less?

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