Sunday, November 21, 2010

We lost our success, it's in the generation gap.

(...exerpt from a friend's livejournal)

My best friend just landed this AMAZING job, and I am so, so proud of her and happy for her, but I just can't help feeling discouraged because of everything she has achieved before age 25. She's just one of those people that good things always happen to, and I love that she has that kind of good fortune in her life, but at the same time, I am so jealous that she gets all of these incredible opportunities seemingly handed to her, when I am working my ass off to get just one shot at something worthwhile. When is it going to be my turn for that kind of success?

I have been working so hard, ever since college. Hell, ever since high school, where I shut myself away (perhaps a bit too much) to graduate with a 3.9 GPA. And I worked SO hard in college, graduated with a 3.6 GPA, Honors and two Bachelor's degrees and here I am, working this job that I dislike more often than not that stresses me out and makes me long for something I actually WANT to do. I hate for this to sound pompous, but I DESERVE chances like my best friend gets. I work just as hard as she does, but I wind up seeing so little return while she just climbs higher and higher.

My friend is struggling, as many of us are, with the disappointment that comes from lots of work and little payback. Success is most often gaged by how well we appear to be doing and how much we earn. For those of us with less than superficial values, it's not just about financial security, but self-confidence, self-realization, and the validation of our talents. However, success is conventionally determined by numbers. My friend's GPA, her list of achievements, the hours she has put in, all gage for others her rate of success. All of these things are not necessarily meaningless, per se, but any practical person like my friend would begin to ask herself, "If they do not lead to any sort return, what good are they?" What does my friend need to FEEL successful? A high GPA?, A degree? At one time, sure, but now she has passed that point. Realistically, success has an expiration date.

Rates of success: is it a generational thing?

My friend's "seemingly more successful" friend creates even more frustration as she is of the Y Generation: (ages 17-24.) It's common for GENXrs and Boomers to be irked with the success of Gen Y, especially in this job market. The problems that occur can be staggering. Boomers unwilling to "give up" their careers and retire, GENXrs floundering at the bottom of the ladder, and the GEN Y's reinventing the ladder and flying to the top.

Experts suggest the reason for this phenomenon is the technology boom, and Gen Y's swift grasp and manipulation of it. But research shows the GenXrs had that market cornered as early as 2001. In fact the surge of technological innovations seemed to have been motivated solely by the interests of GenX. "Gen X Lifestyles allow 'alternative' to enter the mainstream, separating today’s Xer from yesterday’s slacker." "Gen Xers have caused the Internet to not just be a part of the Gen X lifestyle, but a Gen X way of life" (Generational Market Research Bundle: Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y.)

The Boomers are now jumping on the bandwagon, but only due mounting pressures to compete with the younger generation in the workforce. "Technology is just another intergenerational flash-point", "Boomers see cell phones as tools, not toys, but Boomer use of cell phones, either for personal or business purposes, has definitely increased". Boomers still believe, however, that technology causes boundaries in office interaction, and still prefer the 'Human touch'. This ingrained tech-phobia is still holding them back from comfortably working from home, or creating their own entrepreneurial pursuits, thus freeing up more room in the office.(Generational Market Research Bundle: Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y.)

Regardless of the Boomer generation's slight efforts to adapt,the workplace generation gap still challenges the average Boomer's patience. Like Gen Xrs, experienced Boomers have found themselves annoyed by Gen-Y "newbies". The reality is all four generations now "butt heads" in workplace. (Somehow ages 40-44 get lost in the shuffle)

'Successful' people feel it too...

A recent article in Metro Magazine discussed the juggernaut that was the Conan O'Brien vs. Jay Leno controversy. The article acknowledges each generation's compulsion to take a side, determined by their own professional struggle. Metro argues for the younger generation, who held up Conan as an iconoclast to their own suffering. "What was largely taking place, was this huge amount of anger and animosity toward Leno for blocking the way of the next generation" (
Thanks to GenX's tech-savvy, their voices were loud and clear, and all over the place. For a time, Conan represented the difficulty of being just on the fringes of the Boomer generation, knocking on the door, and still not being allowed in. Conan, 47, had paid his proverbial dues as a GenXr (15 years) and still "...saw his ambitions crushed" ( Success was quantified in numbers by NBC, but Conan sought the success of hosting what he considered was "the best show on television". Again, NBC bought Conan off, but all the money in the world didn't change the reality Conan had to face: a professional kick in the teeth. The reality of Conan's success, however, is clear to his fans. He captured the hearts and minds of a generation, that support him through any professional failure, and continue to keep him in the limelight. Success for Conan is in his creative accomplishments, and no longer his ability to bring in ratings or a higher paycheck. The man has a healthy attitude, that sets him apart.

So where does that leave the rest of us? I, as well as many 25-39 year olds I know, are still struggling to make use of professional degrees, but having to settle for working retail, and the service industry. Many of us are settling for "jobs", while Boomers (OUR PARENTS) for years have been beating us over the head that we need to find a CAREER. You know, like the one they have. Yeah, I caught the irony. I was, after all, an English major.

Next Topic:

What good is a Bachelor's degree? (James Marcus Bach's Self-education/Buccaneering)


  1. thanks for writing about this, Amy. it's so tough to deal with sometimes, which is why I'm pursuing a dream now with everything I have.

    I think the ultimate success would be happiness, just being happy knowing I've worked for it and that I deserve it. <3


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