I read an article last week in the Daily Fail (not going to link, sorry … but just remember to take that article with a pinch of salt, it’s The Fail after all) … but it profiled a young blogger* in her 20’s and went on to talk about ‘The Complacent Generation’ – a generation of 20-somethings who feel they should be entitled to (and I quote) … the ‘perfect life they deserve.’
This particular young woman talked honestly about how her life hasn’t quite turned out as she’d wished (although, aged 23, her life is far from over!)
“I think about how I’ll have the perfect figure, a nice house, a good job (preferably blogging full-time), a successful novel in the pipeline and my boyfriend and my dog by my side,” she writes. “I’ll go travelling thanks to my blog and I’ll be able to afford holidays of my own, several times a year.”
I read this ‘article’ and always temper my immediate thoughts with the understanding that she might not have said this verbatim. However, I have three points of view on this subject in general – one as a blogger, one as a mother of a 19 year old … and also one of a woman of a certain age.
I think we’re all guilty sometimes of portraying a life on Instagram and Twitter that doesn’t show the world the bigger picture … I’m as guilty as the next person because I can’t imagine anyone being remotely interested in a photo of me unblocking leftover bits of lettuce and mince from the sink. (Yum.) And I know that if you whack a Mayfair filter on my face I’m going to look ten years younger. OK, three. If I’m lucky. But I do try and ensure there is at least some semblance of balance. I have no hesitation whatsoever in showing people what I look like during a thunderstorm, cuddling a giant hamster or what I look like frizzy haired pre-haircut (all on my Instagram if you’re interested!) Hell, I filmed myself on a rollercoaster for God’s sake … you can’t get much more unflattering than that.
But a fair proportion of the younger generation seem to have bought into a perfect lifestyle that just doesn’t exist. Young fashion and beauty bloggers/vloggers, for example, are guilty of showing the world a snapshot of a life that is picture perfect, editing out the actual reality. That’s not their fault, they are showcasing a fantasy lifestyle that they’re paid handsomely for but unfortunately, there are a lot of young people out there who buy into it.
I have experienced life’s ups and downs and know from first hand experience that there is no such thing as perfection – my rose coloured specs fell off years ago unfortunately! I know that when I look at photos on Instagram what is see is what people want me to see. It’s not real life.
But there seems to be a new generation who think that the world owes them a living, and a perfect one at that. The young lady in the article is heading for a serious fall, if she hasn’t fallen already, and I’m not quite sure where the blame lies. Her parents for not ensuring she’s sufficiently grounded? The economy? The internet? Her peers? Her own delusion?
As I said earlier, I have a 19 year old son who has worked since he was legally allowed to … McDonalds at 16 and now he does a 45 hour week at Wetherspoons whilst he’s home from Uni this summer. He has seen his parents work hard for everything they have, especially, maybe, me as a single parent, and he’s always been taught that if he wants things in life he has to work hard for them. It’s just how I’ve raised both boys and I can’t for one minute imagine them desiring the life of anyone they see on the TV or internet. (Having said that, Dexter, at aged ten, is showing worrying signs of coveting the life of a footballer, but he’s a work in progress.)
After I graduated in 2010 (aged 40), I naively thought I’d easily walk into a job, even if it wasn’t the perfect job. However, I ended up unemployed for seven months, unable even to find work as a PA, which is what I had done for 20 years … so I do understand somewhat that disappointment when things don’t turn out quite as you expect them. And I look at that photo above of me aged 20 and think about everything I dreamt for back then … my life is so SO different to what I thought it would be. But that’s OK.
But I’ve never felt entitled to anything. Ever. When I didn’t get the jobs I thought I deserved post graduation, I temped for the NHS in a job I really didn’t like. I would have done anything to provide for the kids, a lesson learnt from my parents. Maybe the difference between me and her is that if I don’t work, who’s going to put food on the table for my boys? Certainly not their fathers … and so I guess I have that as a massive driver.
Maybe this young woman’s parents cushion all of her falls so she doesn’t feel the pressure I do. (And I am, of course, speculating.)
It’s great to have aspirations … I do, and my boys do, but we’re realistic. I have no doubt that once Ben (my eldest) graduates he’ll end up living at home with me until he finds his feet and saves up enough money to get his own place. But he’ll do any job he has to if it means earning money … he certainly has no qualms about that at all.
I hope this young woman lands the job, the house, the man of her dreams … but I’m canny enough to think that she’ll be lucky to perhaps get one out of three.
It’s a hard lesson to learn isn’t it?
I’ve been a blogger for over four years and have had the pleasure to occasionally work with big brands … but (and it’s a big but), it’s taken four years to get to this point. It’s not luck. That’s over 800 blog posts. That’s thousands of emails sent. Relationships created and nurtured. Blogging conferences attended. I’ve networked, I’ve written, I’ve filmed, and I’ve worked really, really hard.
I don’t think good things come to those who wait … I think good things come to those who work really hard. None of us are ‘entitled’ to anything.
What do you think?
* The blogger in question has since responded but I haven’t as yet read her reply … definitely be worth reading that within the context of my post and the original article.