What are 10 things that make the younger generation sad? originally appeared on Quora -- the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
- The looming reality that very few of us are going to find careers that we're passionate and enthusiastic about right out of school. I'm fortunate to be in a great university program and I've worked at two great companies so far, but neither of them lit my fire. Neither made me excited to wake up. Neither caught the breath as it left my lips and formed it into something I'm proud to be part of. Time after time, I hear from people who chose "practical" over "passion." I'm one of them. Engineering is fun, but it's not improv.
- The wild fantasies of many of my peers are really basic lifestyles such as having an affordable single-bedroom apartment with big windows, a dog, and a manageable amount of debt. Not "no debt," a manageable amount of debt, because that's our reality right now.
- So many of us are chomping at the bit of society to get moving with our social beliefs and our politics, and we are simultaneously shouted down for not understanding what we're talking about and mocked for not getting involved enough. What do you want from us, people? Hold that target still and I guarantee we're ready to hit it.
- So many of our relationships are seen as invalid because of the circumstances that allow them to happen. I have great friends whom I've never met in person, and have to refer to them as my "Internet friends" and have people raise an eyebrow at me as if they're picturing me in my basement in a group Skype with other teenagers while playing League (not that there's anything wrong with that). As though our relationship can never be as rich or deep as one in which our first contact was seeing each other's faces!
- That our generation's commodities are so ruthlessly mocked. Our selfies, our Snapchat, Instagram, texting, 24/7 Internet ... you think that if your generation had this stuff, you wouldn't be basing your entire lives around it? Get off that high horse, my ancient friends. We were born into a world that handed us the technology to constantly be in touch with our friends and community, and you want me to waste time physically meeting up with people instead of talking to everyone at once on Facebook?
- Pensions. Government pensions make me sad. Government pensions make a lot of young people sad because most of us are going to be paying for them for the rest of our lives without ever seeing their benefits.
- The glorification of working yourself to the bone. I say this hesitantly because I frequently chirp about how busy I am and how working myself to death is just another day in the life, but I think a lot of my generation were fed the idea that busy is better and that we need to constantly be pushing ourselves harder and harder. I feel pride when I look at my packed calendar (which is really three calendars -- one for academics, one for personal stuff, one for the Engineering Society work that I do), immediately before I feel crushing waves of fear that I can't get everything done.
- The normalcy of mental illness such as anxiety and depression. Every single one of my best friends has had anxiety and/or been depressed at some point. Every single one. And when we all look at our lives and the pressures we are dealing with and the support that we don't have, none of us are surprised that our minds are working this way. Given all the other stuff that's making us sad, the concept that "sadness" is also making us sad is not surprising. (Disclaimer: Depression is not "sadness." I'm oversimplifying for effect.)
- Nostalgia from experiencing the technology boom so young in our lives. Most people my age grew up playing outside, without technology. That's almost unthinkable now. It's so incredibly difficult to wrap my brain around the idea that we've come from VHS tapes to iPads in the span of my own childhood. Yes, we're digital natives, but we still have that foggy memory of things being different, and things changed so fast when we were so young that we couldn't really process it properly. I feel disjointed when I think about my childhood and how things are now, as though there were a gap that I missed or that I wasn't fully aware of.
- None of us feel like adults, though many of us are. So few of us feel like we are competent members of society; we all feel like we're kids making stuff up. We're out buying alcohol, voting, signing leases, and buying cars and it all still feels like a game. When are we going to grow up? I think many of us are very disillusioned with the idea of adulthood because of how much we fear the shaky future that we don't feel we can control.
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