11.11.2015

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Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s.
I have a term for yuppies in the Gen Y age group -- I call them Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies, or GYPSYs. To get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place.
It's pretty straightforward -- when the reality of someone's life is better than they had expected, they're happy. Lucy's Depression Era grandparents were obsessed with economic security and raised her parents to build practical, secure careers. They were taught that there was nothing stopping them from getting to that lush, green lawn of a career, but that they'd need to put in years of hard work to make it happen.
After graduating from being insufferable hippies, Lucy's parents embarked on their careers. With a smoother, more positive life experience than that of their own parents, Lucy's parents raised Lucy with a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility. This left GYPSYs feeling tremendously hopeful about their careers, to the point where their parents' goals of a green lawn of secure prosperity didn't really do it for them.


The GYPSY needs a lot more from a career than a nice green lawn of prosperity and security. Cal Newport points out that "follow your passion" is a catchphrase that has only gotten going in the last 20 years, according to Google's Ngram viewer, a tool that shows how prominently a given phrase appears in English print over any period of time. To be clear, GYPSYs want economic prosperity just like their parents did -- they just also want to be fulfilled by their career in a way their parents didn't think about as much.
According to this definition, most people are not special -- otherwise "special" wouldn't mean anything.
Unfortunately, the funny thing about the world is that it turns out to not be that easy of a place, and the weird thing about careers is that they're actually quite hard.
Paul Harvey, a University of New Hampshire professor and GYPSY expert, has researched this, finding that Gen Y has "unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback," and "an inflated view of oneself." He says that "a great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. Lucy's extreme ambition, coupled with the arrogance that comes along with being a bit deluded about one's own self-worth, has left her with huge expectations for even the early years out of college. Sure, some people from Lucy's parents' high school or college classes ended up more successful than her parents did.
Lucy, on the other hand, finds herself constantly taunted by a modern phenomenon: Facebook Image Crafting.


Social media creates a world for Lucy where A) what everyone else is doing is very out in the open, B) most people present an inflated version of their own existence, and C) the people who chime in the most about their careers are usually those whose careers (or relationships) are going the best, while struggling people tend not to broadcast their situation.
The same Ngram viewer shows that the phrase "a secure career" has gone out of style, just as the phrase "a fulfilling career" has gotten hot. This is because entitlement perceptions are often based on an unfounded sense of superiority and deservingness. Other people's grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today's image crafting world, other people's grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you'll never have any reason to envy others.



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