Before I begin this piece, I want to give you a quick idea of the perspective I am coming from. I have said it more than once on this site already: We are all works of wonder, but no more so than anyone else.
This is idea is huge to me. Note that I didn't say "special." I am not a fan of the "everyone gets a trophy" mindset. I don't think any of us get anywhere without hard work. And I definitely don't think any of us should get accolades, rewards, or recognition for things we don't earn. What I do believe is that a lack of trophies doesn't make you any less of a human, the definition of "hard work" should be re evaluated, and finally, that our value as human beings should not be measured by said accolades, rewards, or recognition.
I think it's this mindset that separates us from our parents. Let's face it, Millennials get a bad wrap - and I get it. Between "cry rooms" popping up after elections, and all of us walking around with our faces glued to our iPhones, it's easy to see why we are viewed as sheltered, lazy, and entitled.
However, on my recent soul searches, I have come face to face with this question: Is being entitled a bad thing? I believe the answer is yes. But only because I have decided that entitled is just the wrong word. None of us should be entitled. But we should all view ourselves of being worthy.
Quick run down of the differences.
Entitled is the 29 year old dude living in his mothers basement while she does laundry and cooks him meals and he spends money on a credit card his parents pay for while he dips his toe in every business under the sun, citing "passion" as his driving force. He is not grateful. He is not willing to sacrifice. He is not willing to look at situations objectively. Most importantly, he thinks his opinion, actions, and general persona are better than the person next to him. He believes he is different than everyone else. Special. Deserving of privileges or special treatment just for being...him.
Don't worry, I'm not playing the gender card - ladies we get entitled too. Entitled is the woman who expects men to dote on her hand and foot. Who starts a job and thinks she should have already been promoted after three months because she "shows up on time and gets along with everyone god dammit." Who stomps her foot when she doesn't get her way and moves to New York thinking she will be Carrie from Sex In the City without having to go through any of the trials and tribulations to get there.
If I have offended you already, I am sorry. I am not trying to pick on anyone. I know a lot of guys that have amazing hearts and work ethic that lived with their parents while they built a dream, and many women who have made their Carrie dreams come true. But they had a plan, didn't get there by mooching off of anyone else, and were aware and appreciative of their situation.
Here is where I shift from a Baby Boomer mindset. I am not wagging my finger at anyone saying if you just "worked harder" and "put in the time," you would have been successful. This is where I turn into what I hope is an admirable Millennial - yes folks, I do believe we exist.
Just because you are not special does not mean you are not worthy. You do not have to be one of a kind, in order to live a life you love. Worth is inherent in all of us. We have value without that 5th grade soccer trophy because we don't earn value. I repeat: we don't earn value.
The homeless man on the street corner and the CEO in the Porsche are both valuable, they are both worthy. You may have your own opinions on how they are conducting themselves and living their lives, and that is fine. But I hope we can all agree that your worth is not dependent on your job, outfit, or daily decisions. You can be a royal fuck up, and still maintain your god given value. (Once again, not saying who is the fuck up in this scenario. It could be either of them!)
We are born with worth, we are born with value. No amount of promotions, trophies, and late nights in the office makes you any more worthy or valuable than you were from the moment you were born. What's left after you let that sink in, is to live a life that is true to you, and in turn, you will naturally want to give back, because you are...happy.
That last statement is very important in the point I am trying to prove here. We are all worthy, but that does not mean we can be a blood sucking leech in our society. We cannot expect handouts and free rides. But we can have the confidence and understanding of our natural god given abilities to go for what really lights us up. When we understand that we are no more special than the person sitting to the right of us, we simultaneously open ourselves up to the idea that we are also no less equipped than the person sitting to the left of us.
We all deserve to be loved. We all deserve to live a life that fulfills our basic needs and our deepest desires. But we have to tap into the reservoir of value in order to make that life happen ourselves. Crying won't cut it. Complaining won't cut it. Looking at yourself in the mirror and saying "I am no less worthy than anyone on this planet," will be the first step in cutting it. The next step is to treat everyone else with this same idea in mind.
I feel the need to point out that I feel pressure in promoting these views. I know many adults probably think a lot of us are living in a fantasy world. Older generations that think suffering and sacrifice are mutually exclusive - they worked a job they hated for 40 years to provide for their family, so we should too. But I refuse to buy into that paradigm. I will commend their work ethic and commitment to their family. But I will also leave them with the idea that you have to suffer doing something you hate in order to provide a good life for your loved ones.
I am a Millennial that thinks we can have what we want. But I am also a human that thinks it doesn't come easy, and the responsibility to make a beautiful life rests solely on our own shoulders.
I don't think that hard work has to be miserable. I don't think hard work has to be forced. I believe that if we are aligned in what we are chasing, hard work will only seem like a step in the direction of a larger destination. I believe a strong work ethic becomes even stronger if the participant is bought into what they are doing.
I believe worth and value are inherent in all of us and not something to be earned. But happiness - happiness must be worked for, taken responsibility for, sacrificed for. Happiness is not inherent in all of us. But the opportunity to cultivate it absolutely is.
I feel the need to point out that I wasn't trying to make any gross generalizations here. I think we are all smart enough individuals to see the point I am trying to make without getting hung up on the examples I gave. But just to cover my ass: I don't care if you are a CEO, a dude in your moms basement, a rich girl, a trustafarian, a homeless man, a mom driving a minivan with 6 kids in the back, or a single entrepreneur: You were born with worth, you were born with value, and while you are no more special than anyone else, you are a wonder. Just being here, as yourself, taking up space is enough. Nothing will change the fact that you are enough. Ever.
So once again, here is to the gray areas in life that we all live in: the murky waters that we wade through in an effort to recognize our worth, without diminishing the wonder that is the rest of the human race.