I once read an article that called my generation the “Mr. Rogers’ Generation…” and it was not a compliment.
The author’s point was that our generation has a sense of entitlement that has not been earned. We have been told “you are special” so many times that we began to believe it, without having first been battle-hardened by the world.
The Onion put it more humorously, satirizing that Johnson & Johnson could introduce a “nothing but tears” shampoo for babies. All joking aside, I agree that individualism is important – but also that we generally think too much of ourselves.
You’re Perfect as You Are
There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that each person is unique. I learn something new from everybody I meet, and am glad for it. Our uniqueness does, in fact, make us special.
My personal philosophy is that anything and everything we encounter in life is proof-positive of this fact. Nietzsche said “that which does not kill me makes me stronger.” To flip the statement on it’s head, I would say that “we are each capable of surviving nearly anything.” Viewing each thing in the world like this, as a personal challenge, does a good deal to make everything in the world seem a little more possible.
Moreover, this allows a certain degree of serendipity. If an opportunity comes along that is well suited for you, then great! It is further proof that your hard work has paid off.
Now Please Change
Unfortunately, idle hands are the devil’s playthings. Or, put another way – the converse of the statement above is not true. If something does not go well, it was not simply “not meant to happen.” This is almost always cop-out.
Sure, there are some things beyond our control, and there’s no point fighting these things. But people are far too quick to employ this defense.
If you didn’t get the new job, you probably were not the best candidate. If you did not beat the other team, you were probably not as good as them. It is not the fault of the boss or the referee.
If you believe that you are implicitly special, as part of the Mr. Rogers’ Generation, then you will fall victim to the trap of rationalization. Whenever something does not go well, you will subconsciously decide to place the blame elsewhere.
I believe, then, uniqueness is implicit but specialness (the ability to capitalize on uniqueness) is earned.
What do you think? Am I being too hard on our generation?