As you may have inferred from the title of this blog, Entitled Millennial, I do not know struggle. Please indulge me as I try to clarify that statement within this piece. And why, perhaps more importantly, despite not knowing struggle this does not bar me and other Millennials from expressing our thoughts.
I do not know what struggle means, I have seen it but never tasted. I have heard it, but never lived it. I have passed it by, but never really stopped. And the thing is that, many of my fellow Millennials don’t know the first thing about real struggle either.
What do I mean by real struggle? I suppose it’s probably best if I try to define what I mean before people get defensive. Real struggle is not knowing where you’re going to sleep at night, real struggle is not knowing how you will feed yourself or your family, real struggle is dealing with the death of someone very close to you, real struggle is working hard everyday but always being impoverished, real struggle is constantly worrying if you’re safe in your own neighborhood or school, real struggle is having the emotional, and sometimes physical, scars of being violated, real struggle is living in a war zone.
I know none of these things. I only know peace and safety, I only know having my loved ones relatively healthy and active, I only know having the peace of mind of having access to food and shelter. I only know support when I really need, and even when I don’t. I don’t know struggle.
Does this make me a bad person? It’s probably most useful to say yes. I have lived my life not doing bad things, I have lived my life doing all the right things (well more like 90%). But the absence of bad, does not make good; and the bottom line is that I’ve done what I’m supposed to do to give me the opportunity to not struggle in my adult years. This is not special, this ought to be the norm. If every child was as privileged as I was we would be solving the greatest issues of our time. But then again, many Millennials have been privileged, and yet we’re not solving the greatest issues of our time, instead we’re wallowing. And I’m not exempt from this, I’m very much part of that problem.
I’m also very cognizant of the fact that some of my posts may come off as complaining; this is by design, not unintentional. My purpose is to recapture what entitlement means and readjust how we think about it. But what I’ve known long before I even began this blog, is that entitlement is a feeling reserved for the privileged. This blog is an exercise in entitlement as much as it is a critique of the popular understanding of entitlement. A fellow blogger gets to the heart of the issue when discussing the problem with the hit HBO show Girls. While I (and Hannah on Girls) have the luxury of writing about struggles, those that write about struggles are all too often removed from it. Most of those that really struggle are not writing blogs or books.
By almost all measures I’ve done everything “right” so far. I’ve graduated high school, college, and I’m soon to graduate with my master’s degree. While the road hasn’t always been clear or easy, it’s been without real struggle. I’ve been incredibly fortunate and privileged in my life; maybe instead of saying I’ve done everything right, the more apt description is that I haven’t done anything seriously wrong. And I think this applies to many Millennials, a generation that has done nothing wrong, but is still trying to do something right.
Being lost in the wilderness, so to speak, is a timeless condition of youth, usually reserved for the teenage years. I think this feeling of not being fulfilled has extended into adult years for many Millennials. Twenty-somethings are still lost in this wilderness; even those that seemingly have it together with good paying jobs still express feelings of unfulfillment and trouble in their personal lives. This is where the overused saying “30 is the new 20” comes from. It’s expressing a sentiment that captures this generation well, despite sounding quite pretentious. This is not necessarily the fault of Millennials; they haven’t done anything wrong, they just haven’t found something to do right.
I don’t think this feeling is exclusive to Millennials, I just think we have a platform, the freedom, and the spirit to express this frustration. Furthermore, I think we’re raising the standard of what we ought to expect in life. Creating positive change in your life always starts with setting goals and standards for yourself. We do this with our relationships and friendships, why should this not extend to other areas of our lives?
While many of us do not know struggle, I do not think this is a prerequisite for raising our expectations and standards. I do not believe that this prohibits me from having a voice.