I confess. In college, I was a bit cocky. Just a bit. I wore a hat every day that read Italian Stallion with big, bold letters and a dashing black horse galloping on the back. Need I say more?
As I left college, I did so, cocky. Diploma in one hand and vine-ripened ego in the other.
How could I not?
Good grades, good athlete, good smile — the acne I was so “blessed” with in high school, a faint memory and photograph ripped up years ago. I left college completely assured I was going to be the pinnacle of success. Make money. Make a difference. Make people jealous, that sort of thing.
God had huge plans for me, this I know. For my cockiness told me so.
So you can imagine the sharp jagged point those first few years of cubicles, call-centers, and quarter-life crisis was on my inflated self-esteem. The big life I was so sure about, quickly turning into a fable worthy of Aesop.
The Cocky Generation
The GenY/Millennial generation is often knocked for being the self-assured, cocky generation.
And honestly we are.
I’m beginning to see that the cockiness GenY has been knocked for, has been knocked right out of us — The Great Recession hitting us like a 4th grader crushing a pinata without a blindfold. Our hopes and dreams spilling all over the sidewalk. At least it did me.
We wanted it our way, but our way became no way in hell. Which might’ve been the best way after all.
Cocky’s Evil Twin Brother
We often confuse confidence and cockiness as the same thing. But really cockiness and true confidence are opposites. Cockiness is insecurity masquerading as confidence.
Really I wasn’t cocky as I left college. I was insecure.
I entered the real world like a boy afraid to change in the locker room, scared out of my mind that people were going to really see me. The me without the grades, girls, or game-winning hits that I’d been using as fig leaves my whole life. So during those first tough years out of school when all those fig leaves find a way of going up in flames, I began hiding to keep others from seeing my shame.
All the cocky was being amputated.
Having the cocky kicked out of us might’ve been the best thing to happen. When all the cocky-crutches we use to get by on are removed, it finally makes us walk on our own two feet. Ask the hard questions. Figure out what we’re really passionate about.
So yes, I think having the cockiness ripped out of us like the insides of a Thanksgiving turkey might’ve been ideal. Because it left us all with a side of something that we desperately needed.
A vital bridge from cocky to confident. And if GenY and Millennials are truly going to step up as successful leaders — confidence, not cockiness, is key.
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility ~ Saint Augustine
Photo Credit: Armadillo via Creative Commons
I wrote this article in response to the NY Magazine article: The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright.
My generation wants work, play, sex, faith, and money
like we want our burgers — our freaking way.
Any why not?
We waited in line for years for our chance. Salivating at that beautiful Whopper that lined the glowing menu in front — with lettuce cut at 90-degree angles and lush cheese that hung softly like an 80′s love song.
We couldn’t wait for OUR CHANCE to FINALLY take OUR bite.
Photo Credit Jeff Slinker – Creative Commons
But first, we needed to learn some things in line. We had to prepare for our day in front. (And we paid good money to do so). Men and women came alongside to teach us the history of burgers, how we should hold one, and the principles in multiplying Big Mac’s so that we could eat them well into retirement (and maybe even save a few for our kids).
So when we FINALLY made it. When we held our trembling diploma in front of us like a kid with his permission slip to go to the zoo, we were in complete shock with what the cashier shouted…
GENY AND OUR DISBELIEF
“No, no…wait, I think you’re confused. I’m here for MY burger.”
“Yeah, you and everyone else.”
“No, you don’t get it…”
“No, no you don’t get it! Next! Comeonkeepemcoming…!
“No hold on for just one damn second. I trained for years for this moment. I’m 25k deep for the next 20 years for this right here. And I promise you, I’m the best person for this burger. So I plead…hell, I’ll beg if I have too. Just give me that chance. Give me what I’ve been waiting and training for my whole life.”
The cashier takes two quick looks around like a drug dealer about to make a sale and leans in close, “Well, kid, you can’t have what doesn’t exist.”
“What…what do you mean?”
“Pretty simple. We ran out.”
“Ran out? Of burgers?! But this is Burger Place. How does Burger Place not have burgers?”
“Ha…well that’s the million dollar question, isn’t kid? When you find the answer, you come back and tell me. ‘Cause honestly I’d love to know too.”
“No, no, this can’t be? Why didn’t you warn us? What about the millions waiting behind me?”
“Well, aren’t you just the stupidest smart kid in line. What, and cause anarchy? No kid, it might not feel like it now but it’s best they keep waiting. Keep them believing.
“It just doesn’t make sense…”
“I know it doesn’t. And I’m sure you would’ve given that burger hell. But you gotta go now. Next!”
“Wait…where do I go now? What do I do? All I’ve known is how to be successful in line. Don’t kick me out. I’ve been faithfully waiting my whole life to make it to you.”
“Sorry kid, everything’s changed. Just because you waited years in line, doesn’t mean I’m here to serve you.”
So yes, as we were kicked out back, we were a little frustrated and confused. Like alcoholics coming down from their buzz, we staggered through the alleys searching for survival — no blue ribbons, good grades, or accolades to warm us from our frigid insecurities and doubts. Everything feeling a lie, we yelled at God and raged against the machine – all we thought we knew, pieces of trash used to stoke the ever-growing fire.
But…There is hope.
Our story is not over. FAR FROM IT. We’re just living through the rising action.
We must cling to hope like blankets, as monster’s tried to bust through our closet doors.
We must learn the art of survival, of settling in externals without settling within (more on that later).
This too shall pass..
We must be okay with Plan F or G or V.
Yes, we sure as hell didn’t get our way.
But honestly, our way, was really no way at all.
Have you felt disillusioned in your 20’s?
What’s given you hope as Plan A’s gone up in flames? (More of that in WE WANT IT OUR WAY PART TWO)
Photo Credit Jeff Slinker – Creative Commons
Today I had the privilege of being interviewed about our generation by the incredible Jennie Allen – creator of the DVD study, Stuck and the book, Anything, releasing Spring 2012.
After reading my responses, Jennie responded with “I am so crazy about your answers I could cry.” I hope you’ll read the interview and if it doesn’t make you want to cry, at least maybe it encourages a quick sniffle and/or a guffaw. I’d take a guffaw.
Jennie’s First Question: What do you believe are the significant obstacles facing our generation?
Expectations and Timelines.
The more and more I wrestle with and deconstruct the main obstacles facing this generation it typically falls back to these two words.
Because that night comes for us all when we fall asleep in our tidy, comfortable little lives only to wake up with our expectations and timelines being stolen from under our pillows and lit on fire right in the middle of our bedroom. You wake up in shock as the life you were so sure about has become smoldering ashes.
Okay, that sounds a little dire. Let me explain…
To read the rest of the interview, go here. I promise you won’t regret the e-journey.
Do you hear the trumpets? And the bells? How ’bout the choir boys and their wicked cool building crescendo?
No? You don’t? Well turn up the hearing aids because we have a new Chalkboard question and it’s bringing the house down, whilst raising the roof.
You say, “Impossible!“
I say, “Nay. Doth does sleep whilst men dream.“
Wow…sorry…apparently it’s Monday….
But there is a new Chalkboard question and if you like Awesome, you’re going to like sharing your thoughts below. The Chalkboard Question is…
GEN “Y” DO WE GIVE A CRAPPITY-CRAP?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking a lot about my twentysomething Geny, Millennial, Generation and what these terms mean or don’t mean. If you need some fodder before you respond to the Chalkboard Question and have been existing in a cave so you haven’t been blessed with the previous articles, check out: 31 Ways You Know You’re GenY, (srrrriously funny stuff), Why You Don’t Know GenY Like You Think you Do, (I wrote it, so of course I think it’s kick-you-the-face-fantastic), and A GenY’s Rebuttal to New York Times Article, “It’s Not About You” (my dad really liked this one! Darn Tootin! So it must be good).
Alright enough me! (Thank you Jesus). Let’s hear from you!
What Do You Like (or Dislike) Most About Our Generation?
Who is GenY? Everyone wants to know. Like Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World — GenY seems to be a walking paradox that makes for great entertainment.
However, do we really have a clue who GenY really is? Everyday a new article comes out from “experts” who have GenY-Millennials-Twentysomethings-Emerging Adults-those fortunate to be born in the 80′s when George Michaels and Boy George reigned supreme (thankfully sparring us from having to buy tight cut-off jean shorts because we were five years old), completely figured out.
Do a phone survey of 143 twentysomethings and you’ve got yourself a theory and a platform.
As I wrote about in my rebuttal to David Brooks New York Times article “It’s Not About You”, there is a growing debate regarding who GenY is and who the older generation thinks GenY should be.
We think an entire GenY generation can be summed up with a two paragraph label like a box of Wheat Thins.
Why is it that stereotyping certain topics is completely taboo, yet stereotyping entire Generations is all the rage. As if GenY, Millennials, Twentysomethings are this mass amoeba completely identifiable if you can study just one piece. And whomever gains the most exposure, and yells the loudest, holds the power to define us all. (And the power to make the most money because they have the answer)
But GenY is not alone in our yearning to point and say, this is who they are. We do it to the Boomers too. And the Greatest Generation. But is this fair?
It possibly makes the most sense with the Greatest Generation as they rallied, bonded together, and were each independently, and collectively, effected through events like the Great Depression and WWII.
But what does GenY have as our defining events? The Great Recession and 9/11? The verdict is out on whether or not the Great Recession will shape and define our collective identity. But in regards to 9/11, as I wrote in a previous article Amusing Ourselves to Death, “collectively we did not act upon the events of 9/11. No, we consumed 9/11.”
Did 9/11 do anything to actually change most our lives other than waiting in longer lines at the airport?
SO WHO IS GENY?
I wrote 31 Ways You Know You’re a GenY Twentysomething, which has become about a 100 ways now due to the amazing comments from fellow GenY-ers. Thus again showing me there is no one set list, no one-size-fits-all GenY characteristics.
Because we are not a list. We are individuals with unique talents and interests.
Some in GenY will act entitled, some won’t.
Some will have an IV of Technology hooked to their veins, some will like the feel of a good book.
Some will persevere through difficulty, some will take repeated naps.
Some will get married young, some will cast marriage off like a pair of worn tennis shoes.
Yes we can make generalizations, but let’s be careful not to treat generalizations as facts. Because honestly you don’t know – I don’t know, GenY as well as we think we do.
And honestly, I’m sick of us pretending like we do.