The title of this post will instantly make most aware of it’s subject matter. Millenial’s, the generation born (roughly) between 1980 and 2000, are often portrayed as an entitled bunch. We have so much choice. Yet we show no appreciation for the endless options afforded to us. We have the opportunity to work hard and excel. Yet we refuse. We are lazy and unwilling to work. We act entitled.
We “act” entitled. In my opinion, this is a source of a misunderstanding of Millenials. That is, we are being judged based on our actions. Perhaps instead of dismissing Millenial’s as “entitled” based on actions, it would be a worthwhile exercise spending time to understand their mindset. After all it is the mind that controls a person’s actions – without understanding one’s mind, you can only guess as to the motives for their actions. In this regard, below is a fairly crude overview of a Millenial mindset:
Today is your 22nd birthday. You have just finished your degree. You feel proud. Your parents told you education is the key to success. You are educated. You are a success. You are riddled with debt. The price to pay for a great education. The price to pay for a competitive advantage over the uneducated. It is no problem, your success means you will earn lots of money and pay this debt off in no time. Your grades are decent, but not amazing. No matter though, you are educated. You have a competitive advantage over those that aren’t educated. But you can’t get a job. You can’t figure out why – you are successful. You have a competitive advantage over the uneducated. Don’t you? Why does no one want you?
You persist. You finally land a job. You are paid less money for an entire year’s exertion than the level of your student debt. You have to live. You want to live. Debt! Fuck. You want to travel. You want to buy a house. You want to do something. Debt! Fuck. You are surviving. But you aren’t living. Small pay rise. You save. You want to live. You can’t afford a house. You travel. You spend. Debt! Fuck. You feel bad. You shouldn’t have travelled. You shouldn’t have spent. You have to earn the right to live. You had your fun at University. You aren’t entitled to any more fun yet. You should have spent that travel money on your debt. This is life. You need to earn the right to travel. Debt! Fuck. You are surviving. You learnt your lesson. You save. You save more. More. More. More.
You work for someone who has six houses. Your boss earns five times more than you from their personal exertion. They work the same number of hours you do. They earn five times more because their time is five times more valuable than yours. You know their time is more valuable as you are told that it is on a daily basis. It is as obvious as the sea is wet. They “earn” more passively from their properties than you earn for your personal exertion. You earn nothing passively. They own shares that own shares in shares of shares’ shares. They buy another house. They earned it. They did what you are doing. They got educated. They saved. They earned it. They are successful. You need to earn it too. You need to do what they did. You need to become successful. You should not feel entitled to it. You have to earn it. Don’t be lazy. Work hard for it. They did it. They weren’t lazy. They worked hard for it. You have to too. You work hard, but you should not feel entitled to a pay rise. You need to earn it. They earned it. You need to earn it. Don’t feel entitled. Work hard. Work harder.
You’ve been working for a few years now. You liked your job when you started it. But you don’t like your job much anymore. You know you can do whatever you want because that is what you are told. There are so many other options out there for you. You are worried about making the wrong choice. You are making decent money and are slowly paying off your debt. You don’t want to throw that away for something unknown. There are so many options. Financial analyst. Financial associate. Associate financial analyst. Assistant to the associate financial analyst. Too many options. Too many choices. You continue working your job. Work hard. Harder.
Do you feel entitled? What does that even mean? Entitled to what? That term does not resonate with you whatsoever, but people keep telling you that is what you are. You are drowning in debt so bad and you can’t envisage when you will pay it off. You are working hard. You wont be able to buy a house by 30 at this rate. Your parents tell you that they were married by 25, and bought their first house at 26. People are telling you that you must not be working hard enough. What?
You have an epiphany. It’s profound. You think “fuck it”. Working hard hasn’t really worked for you. You aren’t particularly happy. You don’t feel like you are making any meaningful contribution other than to your boss’ already bulging pockets. You realise that money is just money. It comes and it goes. You realise that time only goes. You want to spend it more wisely. You want to spend more time with other human beings, not computers. You enjoy life. You think life is for living. You want to spend more time living. You quit.
Below are a few points of interest that you can relate to the rant above.
1. House prices are absurd:
From an article in The Guardian: “A homebuyer earning the median salary for their region in 1995 would have had to spend between 3.2 times and 4.4 times their salary on a house, depending on where they lived. In 2012-13, the last year for which complete data is available, the median house price had risen to between 6.1 times and 12.2 times median regional incomes.”
2. The cost of education is spiralling out of control:
From an economics reporter for CNBC: “This fall, Harvard’s annual tuition and fees (not including room and board) will set you back $45,278, more than 17 times the 1971-72 cost. If annual increases had simply tracked the inflation rate since 1971, next year’s tuition would be just $15,189.”
3. Decisions are hard:
Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises.
The above rant is of course sourced from personal experience. Perhaps many will disagree, which is absolutely fine as personal experiences are necessarily personal. However, during my travels I encountered a lot of people who shared a similar disdain for the current system in one way or another. Whether it be the cost of their education, their rent expense which feels like a kick in the guts delivered on a monthly basis, the absurdity of house prices, or the uncomfortable feeling that the job that they spend the majority of their week doing is a bunch of bullshit. Frustration with the system was a common undertone.
This leads me to believe that the current system has run its course. In the current system the supposed “dream life” – house, wife, two kids, job, wealth – is achieved by the select few that are able to persist (i.e. “more, more, more”) without going insane, or who are born into it. It is time to acknowledge that the system is breaking, if not already broken, so that we can be pro-active and do something about it, rather than being reactive, left cleaning up what will be one hell of a mess.
I don’t know what the answer is. However, perhaps instead of aspiring to own shares that own shares in shares of shares’ shares, we should simply aspire to share.