My boss sent me an article about why Gen Y kids are unhappy. Because they are, beneath the veneer of contouring and Instagram filters.
Happiness = Expectations – Reality
When I was young, I had very high expectations for my future. I was raised, along with my siblings, with the quiet suggestion that I was better than most people.
I was told over many years that university would be the best time of my entire existence. I would be ‘good at university’. Young people with certain levels of intelligence are given fewer options even than the unintelligent: you’re going to uni.
This high expectation led to a MASSIVE crash when reality presented itself. I wasn’t special; I wasn’t hard-working enough for the things that had made me SEEM special to cut it. (I also had no idea how to make new friends, having always known the same people.)
High expectations – Crippling reality = Unhappiness
With my expectations smashed to smithereens, I entered the world of work. I expected my life to be terrible – my own Wetherspoon’s to manage was the pinnacle of my hopes and dreams.
So when I started learning how to work hard, life’s reality began to exceed my expectations. I got a little promotion, my relationship with my hero of a boyfriend became a real thing.
After a few years, reality had far exceeded my expectations. I had a career, a home I was proud of. I’d had work published, I’d started getting involved with other copywriters and creatives.
Depressing expectations + Surprisingly positive reality = Happiness
And now it’s evened out. I have few expectations of my future, beyond being comfortable enough. Life exceeds my expectations daily. I never thought I’d be pootling around in a nice little car. I never thought I’d be commissioning my first piece of art. Because of my terrifying expectations, I’ve lived beneath my means for a long time.
Fear and anxiety have built me a savings account that would cushion any blow softer than bail on a murder charge. Fear and anxiety have pushed me to get better at my craft. Fear and anxiety have taught me that I’m not special, but I can create special things if I work hard.
By screwing up the Gen Y dream early on in life, I’ve managed to beat its curse. Except the part where I think I’m special for recognising that I’m not special. Darn.