Identifying With mY Generation

I was reading (of all things) this week, a floral industry magazine that talked about the quirks of today's 20-somethings, more formally known as Generation Y. Of course, this particular magazine talked about how we up-and-comers differ from our parents and our grandparents when it comes to flower shopping and working as flower arrangers, but it got me thinking: How does my generation's perspective affect the way I live my life and approach my future career?

If you ask me, we 20-somethings are a spectacular species with a unique spin on life. Here are just a few ways the experts define my generation:
  • We want our activities (including our work) to be meaningful.
  • We value a work-life balance.
  • We take pride in social responsibility.
  • We work independently but appreciate a structured overhead.
  • We are optimistic about the future.
  • We expect immediate results.
  • We question unnecessary rules and traditions.
  • We are tolerant of diversity.
  • We are expressive and our point needs to be heard.
(For a more defining look at Generation Y, Generation Y: The Millennials is an amazing source.)

Am I, by this definition, a Gen Y-er? Absolutely.

All you have to do is take a look at my approach to job searching for a clear example. I graduated from university two years ago, and yes, I would have liked to be working in my profession immediately following that June 2007 commencement date (hence the instant gratification that my generation craves), but my life took small, unexpected diversions.

I was not willing to settle for a job to "pay the bills." I needed to find myself working in a place where I connected with the people and was passionate about my work. This find doesn't come easy, so as a result I lived at home, worked in a coffee shop, drove cross country to live in California, flew across the world to live in Cambodia, and two years later I might finally be circling in on that first "real job."

Along the way in finding the position that suited me, I've learned about the world and all the amazingly different people who reside in it. I've taken an interest in new hobbies, like making my own yogurt and herbal shampoo. I've been able to read more books and learn more about politics and, in turn, analyze my own view of the world. I've begun to blogging, allowing myself to be heard.

How many other 20-somethings do you know who are living this life of displacement? I'm sure you can think of at least one or two. The 20-something way of engaging in life as the adventure it is rather than settling for the status quo set by our preceding generations is a counter-culture ideal affecting the way the world operates. We see things differently. We hear things differently. And we do things differently.

If you are a 20-something, do you find these qualities in yourself? Can you identify with the other members of your generation or do you feel like an outcast?

For those of other generations, what do you think of our generation and how does it compare to when you were a 20-something?

Photo courtesy Veer


KBrock said...

I find your definition of generation Y to be very accurate, although, I don't think you can classify everyone as those points. I still know plenty of 20-somethings that feel like they need to take a well paying job out of college, even if they don't really love it, get married, and settle down in the state they grew up in by age 25. That's not me (or you) but people our age still do it. Especially if they didn't attend college. I'm glad my life is more of an adventure than just settling though :-). Makes for more interesting blogging!

alison said...

I was just reading about generation y too! In a way it's nice to know that we're products of our time and that almost everyone our age values the same things we do, and in a way, it's very unsettling (probably because all gen yers want to be unique individuals...)

Emily said...

I agree with KBrock. I think there's a bit of a divide going on in our generation. You've got the generation Yers like myself who fit just about every one of your bullets. Especially the instant gratification. Then, you've got a good chunk who are acting like they grew up in the 1950s and get married and have kids right away. I think a lot of people in generation y want what their stuck-in-the-50s friends have (to a point) but we're not willing to give up things like having meaningful jobs. It will be interesting to see how the next generation blends these two schools of thought.

Anonymous said...

I guess this definition is dependent on your privilege, or lack of it. Only 20 somethings who don't have to work to survive are living this life. It is a lucky life, one you should realize is not the norm.

With your definition, I would say I am an outcast. I long for the adventure, the travel, the complete freedom, but I can't afford it. I had to take a job, not because I wanted to fit some traditional view of what people do when they grow up, but because I had no choice in the matter.

I hope to one day enjoy a slice of this life :) I am saving my money so I can have a small piece of this fabled freedom you speak of so casually.

I too am not settling, but you could say I am taking the long route. I want both.