This morning, I read a blog post written by an undergrad who’d been accused of plagiarism by her professor. She wrote on the obstacles she faces as a first-generation college student and U.S. citizen, and how superiors in her field of academia don’t expect her to be capable of achieving above and beyond the many accomplishments she’d already worked incredibly hard for. They assume she isn’t smart enough to grasp complex ideas, or to write scholarly and engagingly enough for her class assignments. This is, of course, a systemic problem with deep roots. But what struck me the most about her post was the fact that she felt “invalidated.”
How many of us have ever doubted “ourselves, our abilities, and our aspirations” based on other people’s opinions, as she did? I would guess that the number would include all of us. It is so ridiculously easy to let other voices infiltrate our emotions and influence our thought processes. We hear opinions from all sides, all the time: from friends, co-workers, employers, family, peers, society, media, and perhaps from what could be worst of all – ourselves. We allow the resulting doubt to fester in our minds until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We wonder, Wait… can I really do that? Am I really that capable? Do I really have that talent? Is this really what I’m supposed to do? Continue reading →
These past few weeks, I’ve read and seen various incarnations of a concept that is best summed up in an article I read in early September from the Huffington Post. The article’s subject – Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy – mainly focuses on our generation’s unhappiness in the workplace, and is delved into throughout the proceeding paragraphs, formulas, and diagrams. Ultimately, it concludes that my generation is unhappy (referred to as GYPSYs, or Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies) because we’ve been raised to believe that we are spectacularly special by our Baby Boomer parents. Problems arise when we get out into the “real world”, entering it with “a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility” as a result of our childhoods. One might ask: isn’t an optimistic attitude a good thing in the world? Well, in this case, that optimism supposedly sets us GYPSYs up for colossal disappointment. Because, when our new jobs end up being less fulfilling than we expected, or we end up not snagging the title of “standout co-worker” in the office (namely, we end up being much less “special” than we were led to believe as children), we become unhappy with the reality of our lives falling much shorter than our expectations. To make it worse, that unhappiness can be compounded with the comparisons our generation tends to make between ourselves and acquaintances’ fabricated lives on social media.
Though the author hits upon multiple other points, the unhappiness-in-the-job-market angle stood out the most to me. Now, at first I was slight angry; I mean, what kind of article was this to tell me that I wasn’t special?
“I certainly am one of the few that are actually special,” I grumbled to myself while reading the article. I instantly wanted to write down all the indignant thoughts flowing through my head. But then I decided to take a step back, and spend some moments pointedly thinking on what the article was professing. After objectively looking at the article’s points, I had to say that I did agree with some of them – truthfully, it can be detrimental to compare one’s activities to those seen on social media, because comparisons lead to discontent; and I did agree with the admonition near the end of the article that our generation should never lose our ambition in our life’s pursuits. Continue reading →