Today, I am going to explore why we are unhappy while I dissect this awesome post about Gen Y. Face it, even those of us who report that we feel pretty good can generally find something to gripe about and are sitting on a mountain of doubt and confusion. You, me, and just about everyone else. So why not explore all this anxiety together?
WaitButWhy introduces Lucy, the main character of the story to illustrate the problem with todays up and coming generation. They get a pretty good name, Gen Y Protangonists and Special Yuppies (GYPSYs); the “main character of a very special story”. Oh, I’m sorry, what we believe is a very special story, not that it is one. This puts me on guard, as it would, being a Gen Y’er. Though it appears the point of this essay is to take Gen Y down a notch, there’s no evidence that this is what will actually happen. I do believe we are all the main character of a special story – it’s called Your Life, cherish it.
Next, WaitButWhy gives us an important equation. One you have likely seen and heard before.
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
I believe this to be true. The book, Loving What Is by Byron Katie, is a beautiful modern American zen perspective of this equation. Happiness decreases the more you battle reality. If you live in the moment and can accept things as they are, why would you be unhappy? It is the message in our minds “Things should not be this way” that creates stress and anxiety.
Speaking of stress, this article has been the catalyst for many heated debates within my family lately, so it’s great that it spans issues across generations. I was talking to my mom about this article and she expressed an important point: her parents lived in a time that was so bad (WWII in Germany), that there was really no other direction to go but up. They had hit rock bottom and just about anything looks good after you’ve been there.
WaitButWhy mentions that the post war generation was living for the American Dream, whereas Gen Y is living for Our Own Personal Dream. This strikes a cord with me and appears to be the path that we are on. I don’t believe that this statement is written with any particular judgments attached to it, though I could see how someone might believe that there are. While I love this post because it stimulates such thought provoking conversation, something that rubs me the wrong way is the insane amount of judgment that shines through the responses. Is this bad? Is it good? Does it matter? Maybe Gen Y’ers are looking to live their own personal dream. So what? With time, things change. We aren’t going to continue to live the American Dream and I don’t think I need to talk about why that is here.
In the spirit of pursuing our personal dreams versus America’s, it is no surprise that terms like “career security” are now less popular than “a fulfilling career”. Again, the only constant here is change. The baby boomers and Gen X lived the American Dream, so it’s time to come up with something new. How do these concepts come into being? I can’t say I have a good answer, but it appears that the masses are behind lifestyle design and pursuing passionate careers. What would you suggest? Seeing the success of those before us, how do you continue to strive and be inspired?
Next comes an important point from WaitButWhy. You and I – we are delusional. Again, this could be interpreted as aggressive or cruel. My reaction was: “Thank God! Sweet salvation!” Rather than taking this as an attack on me or my generation, I am going to take it as validation. I feel validated in my feelings of stress, anxiety, and confusion. This statement makes me feel more human. And guess what we all have in common? 😉
Then I find myself asking who is WaitButWhy? Which generation do they belong to? Do they make money from their blog? How are they any different? WaitButWhy must be human, too. If they do get paid through their blog, then they are an example of something I would like to believe is possible for myself. My point here is that a common experience in humanity is being delusional. Doing The Work outlined in Loving What Is proves that. So maybe Gen Y is just like everyone else.
The first problem that is actually identified in the article is that everyone in Gen Y thinks they are special. No, like really super special. More special than you. GASP. Before WaitButWhy goes much further into the details of why this is a problem, they identify a second: GYPSYs are taunted.
At this point in the post, I am grateful that I fully identify with Lucy. Hell, I am Lucy and here is this person validating the sources of so much of my anxiety. Lucky me, let’s get to work on all this shit. Here, WaitButWhy brings in issues around Facebook Image Crafting. It is an unfortunate truth that social media gives us inflated ideas of how others are living their lives. This in turn makes us feel bad about ourselves. These are real life problems for Gen Yer’s. So what now?
Advice from WaitButWhy is as follows:
#1: Stay wildly ambitious. Yes! I love it. This quote from Carl Sandburg illustrates this sentiment for me: “I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.” There’s only one way to find out where the path you are forging may take you –> Keep going.
#2: Stop thinking your special. I think this is generally good advice. No matter how special you actually are, it’s annoying to meet people who think and act like they’re God’s gift to earth, even if it’s true. The most inspiring, generous, and awesome people I have met, act like they have confidence, an inner knowing that they are capable, but they are humble and build up the people around them.
#3 Ignore everyone else. Another big THANK YOU to the author of WaitButWhy. There is often something healing in receiving validation from others and this is a big wound that needs healing. An entire generation with false expectations? Shit. Ignoring everyone else and concentrating on your own work is no small feat. Especially with our growing internet and Facebook addictions. Let’s channel #1 to help out here, why not use that ambitious energy to learn how to ignore everyone else and be a total Buddha in regards to social media networks? How are you going to live your daily life using social media and keep your head about you? If this is Gen Y’s greatest challenge, how will we rise to the occasion?
I did something hugely scary for me yesterday. I signed up for my Crossfit Level 1 Certification. They don’t even give refunds anymore. This is something that I have been thinking about and hoping to do for a while. I haven’t been able to commit to a date so far because of my work schedule. Well, I am going from working 6 days a week to working 18 hours! Which is scary within itself. Now I have oodles of time to accomplish all the projects I have been dreaming about. Like the Crossfit Level 1 Certification.
What am I so afraid of? Every time I sign up for paid classes, the dialogue begins, “This better be worth it. You better get everything you can out of this. You better make it pay for itself.” Paying large sums of money for certificates and programs makes me acutely aware of the expectations and pressures that I put on myself. I keep thinking about College and how I dropped out twice and ended up with six colleges on my transcript. I’ll write about that sometime. That does not feel like success to me and I still struggle with feelings of guilt about that. I am not proud of having bounced around that much. I feel bad for my parents. And then the fear begins to raise its beautiful, dark, monstrous head.
This happened when I first signed up for Crossfit. It was on my 26 X 26 goals list to attend a basics class. I researched various gyms in the area and settled on San Francisco Crossfit because my friend, Paul, raved about Kelly Starrett. I did my two weeks of Crossfit basics training during the cold, dark, and rainy nights of February 2012 – this is relevant because until a couple of weeks ago, SFCF was still located in the Parking Lot of Dreams behind the Presidio Sports Basement.
I was stoked. I was going write, “I was hooked.” But I wasn’t hooked so much as totally pumped to be working out with so many motivated, badass individuals. So I decided to pay for some level of membership. I had hurt my knee training for a marathon and needed a way that I could maintain a high level of fitness without running a lot. Little did I know that Crossfit would change my ideas around fitness and continues to do so. I sat in front of the website, deliberating which membership to buy. I didn’t like the class packages because I knew that if I used up a 10-class pass in 2 or 3 weeks and had to pay for another one, I was likely to stop going if I was paying that frequently. Ultimately I decided to pay for an unlimited year membership. At first I totally rationalized it, telling myself that this was the cheapest and best way for me to attend SFCF. Then, after I had paid the $1800, I freaked out a little bit. I was only getting paid $8.50 and hour at my current job at the time and who knew how long I would be excited about Crossfit?! I have a tendency to get really excited about things right out of the gate and then they fizzle after some amount of time. The basic math told me that if I attended 3 classes a week on average, then I would only be paying about $12.50 per class. That’s cheap! I liked that number. I still like that number! Here I am a year later and now I can say that I am hooked on Crossfit.
Back to paying for the Level 1 Certification. I created my 27 X 27 list of goals and I have included this as one of them. I am working on defining my life on my terms and figuring out how I want to spend my time. Scott Dismore’s revolution, Live Your Legend, is helping me do just that. I purchased (ACK! Cue the dialogue!) the Live Off Your Passion E-course and have been digging deep to find out what lights me on fire. When I ask myself: What makes me feel stronger than anything in the world? I would say Crossfit (and bike touring, it’s just too good to leave out.) So in an effort to get closer to a career I am passionate about, I am taking the Crossfit Level 1 course. I am so excited! I could be a coach! I am so scared! I could be pissing away $1000 if I don’t coach! Let’s go with “I’m so excited!”
What makes you feel like a badass?
P.S. Oh yea! I also registered for the Crossfit Open. It’s going on the 27 X 27. Boo-ya.