Special Snowflake Syndrome: The curse of the Millenial

Definition of special in English:


1. Better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual:

We are all important, but not necessarily special. 

"Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy"

I recently found this article during a general browsing session (you know, the kind where you end up on Buzzfeed and wonder what has gone wrong with your life)

Whilst I disagree with some of the terminology used in the piece, namely "yuppie", I did feel that it made some important insights into why there is a general feeling of frustration and inadequacy facing millennials and generation Y.

To simplify - the piece argues that our generation has set unrealistic standards for ourselves, which is compounded by strong feeling of entitlement to success and material wealth.

Whilst I am aware there are geographic and socio-economic differences, I feel it is fair to say that our generation was bought up in generally stable economic and political conditions, with relatively high employment and an abundance of consumer goods. 

The world we grew up in primed us to believe that:

a. we were capable of anything, that we were all special and deserving of success. This is a feeling that we carried with us, throughout school and into university, where we were told that those who did well would prosper.

b. the possibilities for consumption and growth were limitless - we could all live in a consumer paradise with access to endless goods and resources.

The messages we also receive in modern consumer marketing are clear  - We are all special and very important (I would argue this is true, but not in a material sense!). We all deserve to have the best, immediately, because we are worth it.

This feeling is also subject to confirmation bias, as we now see all of our peers crafting perfect (but normally unrepresentative) images of their daily lives.

On platforms such as Instagram, this manifests in #blessed, on Facebook it could be endless holiday photos and pictures displaying material wealth. Social media has allowed us to curate our own lives into a perfect exhibition of digital artifacts. 

The thing is, when you feel you're special, you need to then create the evidence which backs up the extremely high expectations that you have for yourself.

This is the bit where the dream starts to break down, as reality rarely lives up to our inflated expectations.

The thing is, real and tangible success does come at a price, namely hard work and lots of it. If you are in your mid to late twenties, you simply have not had enough time to work hard enough to make your mark on the world. It's as simple as that.

Your dream job will most likely come after 20 years graft, not from following the "20 top career tips for your dream job" that you found on Pintrest this morning. Anything worth doing will take grit and determination - anyone who has built a successful business can attest to this. Success does not happen overnight, however much as we are told to believe it is possible.

At this point I would like to point out that It's fine to believe that you are special, however this should not come at the cost of believing others are less than you. Nobody should think that they are the only seven sided snowflake in the world.

In a world of approximately 7.3 billion, there are going to be plenty of people who are just as good/talented/educated, even as privileged, as you. There will also be people who, in certain areas, perhaps do not have your skills, but rest assured - they will be good at something.

Now if you have come this far in reading this article, you may be feeling pretty disheartened. However I recently had a bit of a revelation about my sense of entitlement and how it was actually damaging my self esteem and confidence. 

I realised that releasing myself from the obligation to live up to my wild (and unrealistic) expectations was in fact a liberation, not a failure.

The fact that I am not, at 25, a multimillionaire, in possession of a "perfect" body, a world ranked chess player or editor of Vogue, does not mean that it's impossible in the future. 

If you really want something, whether it's a larger than life dream, or just a regular and comfortable life, you need to get your head down, be humble and accept that you may well fail.

You are also not beholden to the dreams which society has prescribed for you. You don't need to be famous for people to respect you, you do not need to be rich to have a close and supportive family.

Once you realise that the world doesn't owe you a damn thing, you are then free from feeling that you haven't lived up to artificial expectations. 

You are not supposed to be great. You simply have the potential, just like every other human being on the planet.

Success is not dished out on a plate, you need to prepare the ingredients, cook the meal, then serve it.