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Say hi to Lucy.



Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s. She's also part of a yuppie culture that makes up a large portion of Gen Y.

I have a term for yuppies in the Gen Y age group—I call them Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies, or GYPSYs. A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story.

So Lucy's enjoying her GYPSY life, and she's very pleased to be Lucy. Only issue is this one thing:

Lucy's kind of unhappy.

To get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place. It comes down to a simple formula:

Happiness = Reality - Expectations

It's pretty straightforward—when the reality of someone's life is better than they had expected, they're happy. When reality turns out to be worse than the expectations, they're unhappy.

To provide some context, let's start by bringing Lucy's parents into the discussion.

Lucy's parents were born in the 50s—they're Baby Boomers. They were raised by Lucy's grandparents, members of the G.I. Generation, or "the Greatest Generation," who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, and were most definitely not GYPSYs.



Lucy's Depression Era grandparents were obsessed with economic security and raised her parents to build practical, secure careers. They wanted her parents' careers to have greener grass than their own, and Lucy's parents were brought up to envision a prosperous and stable career for themselves.

They were taught that there was nothing stopping them from getting to that lush, green lawn of a career, but that they'd need to put in years of hard work to make it happen.



After graduating from being insufferable hippies, Lucy's parents embarked on their careers. As the 70s, 80s, and 90s rolled along, the world entered a time of unprecedented economic prosperity. Lucy's parents did even better than they expected to. This left them feeling gratified and optimistic.



With a smoother, more positive life experience than that of their own parents, Lucy's parents raised Lucy with a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility. And they weren't alone. Baby Boomers all around the country and world told their Gen Y kids that they could be whatever they wanted to be, instilling the special protagonist identity deep within their psyches.

This left GYPSYs feeling tremendously hopeful about their careers, to the point where their parents' goals of a green lawn of secure prosperity didn't really do it for them. A GYPSY-worthy lawn has flowers.

This leads to our first fact about GYPSYs:

GYPSYs Are Wildly Ambitious.

"I suppose I could be president, but is politics really the truest calling of my heart. No... no that would be settling."

The GYPSY needs a lot more from a career than a nice green lawn of prosperity and security. The fact is, a green lawn isn't quite exceptional or unique enough for a GYPSY. Where the Baby Boomers wanted to live The American Dream, GYPSYs want to live Their Own Personal Dream.

Cal Newport points out that "follow your passion" is a catchphrase that has only gotten going in the last 20 years, according to Google's Ngram viewer, a tool that shows how prominently a given phrase appears in English print over any period of time. The same Ngram viewer shows that the phrase "a secure career" has gone out of style, just as the phrase "a fulfilling career" has gotten hot.

To be clear, GYPSYs want economic prosperity just like their parents did—they just also want to be fulfilled by their career in a way their parents didn't think about as much.

But something else is happening too. While the career goals of Gen Y as a whole have become much more particular and ambitious, Lucy has been given a second message throughout her childhood as well:

You're SPECIAL!

This would probably be a good time to bring in our second fact about GYPSYs:

GYPSYs Are Delusional

"Sure," Lucy has been taught, "everyone will go and get themselves some fulfilling career, but I am unusually wonderful and as such, my career and life path will stand out amongst the crowd." So on top of the generation as a whole having the bold goal of a flowery career lawn, each individual GYPSY thinks that he or she is destined for something even better—

A shiny unicorn on top of the flowery lawn.



So why is this delusional? Because this is what all GYPSYs think, which defies the definition of special:

spe-cial | 'speSHel |
adjective
better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual.

According to this definition, most people are not special—otherwise "special" wouldn't mean anything.

Even right now, the GYPSYs reading this are thinking, "Good point...but I actually am one of the few special ones"—and this is the problem.

A second GYPSY delusion comes into play once the GYPSY enters the job market. While Lucy's parents' expectation was that many years of hard work would eventually lead to a great career, Lucy considers a great career an obvious given for someone as exceptional as she, and for her it's just a matter of time and choosing which way to go. Her pre-workforce expectations look something like this:



Unfortunately, the funny thing about the world is that it turns out to not be that easy of a place, and the weird thing about careers is that they're actually quite hard. Great careers take years of blood, sweat and tears to build—even the ones with no flowers or unicorns on them—and even the most successful people are rarely doing anything that great in their early or mid-20s.

But GYPSYs aren't about to just accept that.

Paul Harvey, a University of New Hampshire professor and GYPSY expert, has researched this, finding that Gen Y has "unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback," and "an inflated view of oneself." He says that "a great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. They often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting."

For those hiring members of Gen Y, Harvey suggests asking the interview question, “Do you feel you are generally superior to your coworkers/classmates/etc., and if so, why?” He says that “if the candidate answers yes to the first part but struggles with the ‘why,’ there may be an entitlement issue. This is because entitlement perceptions are often based on an unfounded sense of superiority and deservingness. They’ve been led to believe, perhaps through overzealous self-esteem building exercises in their youth, that they are somehow special but often lack any real justification for this belief."

And since the real world has the nerve to consider merit a factor, a few years out of college Lucy finds herself here:



Lucy's extreme ambition, coupled with the arrogance that comes along with being a bit deluded about one's own self-worth, has left her with huge expectations for even the early years out of college. And her reality pales in comparison to those expectations, leaving her "reality - expectations" happy score coming out at a negative.

And it gets even worse. On top of all this, GYPSYs have an extra problem that applies to their whole generation:

GYPSYs Are Taunted

Sure, some people from Lucy's parents' high school or college classes ended up more successful than her parents did. And while they may have heard about some of it from time to time through the grapevine, for the most part they didn't really know what was going on in too many other peoples' careers.

Lucy, on the other hand, finds herself constantly taunted by a modern phenomenon: Facebook Image Crafting.

Social media creates a world for Lucy where A) what everyone else is doing is very out in the open, B) most people present an inflated version of their own existence, and C) the people who chime in the most about their careers are usually those whose careers (or relationships) are going the best, while struggling people tend not to broadcast their situation. This leaves Lucy feeling, incorrectly, like everyone else is doing really well, only adding to her misery:



So that's why Lucy is unhappy, or at the least, feeling a bit frustrated and inadequate. In fact, she's probably started off her career perfectly well, but to her, it feels very disappointing.

Here's my advice for Lucy:

1) Stay wildly ambitious. The current world is bubbling with opportunity for an ambitious person to find flowery, fulfilling success. The specific direction may be unclear, but it'll work itself out—just dive in somewhere.

2) Stop thinking that you're special. The fact is, right now, you're not special. You're another completely inexperienced young person who doesn't have all that much to offer yet. You can become special by working really hard for a long time.

3) Ignore everyone else. Other people's grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today's image crafting world, other people's grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you'll never have any reason to envy others.

Source: wait but why: Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy
 

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I agree with a lot of this but there are some factors that aren't considered here. The first item that isn't addressed is the barrier to entry to get a good paying job. For most jobs you need some sort of college education. The price of college has been rising way faster than inflation. Past generations could work a summer job and pay for college, as well as have some spending money. Now people are burdened with tens of thousands in debt just to obtain an entry-level job.

That goes to my other point. American businesses broke the level of trust and loyalty. Past generations could start at an entry-level job (with low educational requirements) and work their way up into the company. The company would reinvest and train the employees and they could slowly work their way up within the company. There were also things like pensions and other incentives for someone to stay long term with a company and slowly build a career. Now, when hired, you are a cost to be minimized. In order to get ahead, you have to jump ship and move around for jobs, otherwise you will fall behind because your increases will not keep up with cost of living increases.
 

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OMG this is so true. I've totally been a GYPSY but I refuse to admit that, and I see it all around me. I would like to say I am no longer a GYPSY, but who am I to judge, lol.

I like the advice the article gives: stay ambitious, but get rid of the "I'm special" attitude. Guess I've been lucky in avoiding social media for so long, less peer pressure too.

5-star post ftw.
 

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The author of this article can go fuck themselves with a wooden spoon. I really don't see this "Generation Y entitlement" everyone bitches about. I see people of my generation being massively undervalued compared to what they should be worth in any sane economy. I see people of my generation working longer hours and achieving much higher educational attainments, on average, than our parents' or grandparents' generation had to, and having no comparable increase in salary, status, or quality of life to go with it. I see people who aren't cut out for college, who in other eras of time would have worked in industrial jobs, having few to no options. I see people crippled by student loan debt, the likes of which no other generation ever had to take on (except for maybe part of Gen X). I see people graduating from top colleges with good degrees and being forced to live with their parents because nobody is hiring.

I have an Ivy League degree in molecular and cellular biology, with a 3.4 GPA and over 4.0 senior year GPA, and research experience at three pre-eminent and world famous research institutions with excellent recommendations from every employer I've ever had, and yet I don't get even an email back for an interview for 90% of the research technician jobs I apply to. Jobs which I could do in my sleep for the most part and which pay $25K to $35K a year, definitely not what one would consider an "Ivy League"-worthy salary, but by this point I would do the entire fucking "Singing in the Rain" dance routine if I was offered a position. And yet people say I'm "entitled" for being pissed off at the fact that I might be permanently unemployed even after I spent years and years working hard so that I could get a good job, and now I'd be happy settling for just a job, period?

I don't really know why these "Gen Y is sooo spoiled and entitled" articles keep coming out, but the paranoid side of me thinks it might be some sort of propaganda to keep the young people down and make them think that things are supposed to be this way, that they're supposed to work and work and work and get into massive debt and have nothing to show for it in the end. If we have ambitions then we're called entitled but if we decide we want to live small and boring lives then we're called lazy slackers.

Living an extraordinary life would be nice, but what I dream about more than anything is living an ordinary, boring, stable life.
 

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More confining people into neat little boxes 'generations' and applying the most ridiculuous of stereotypes based upon the most arbitary of concepts; the years in which you where born!

These 'generations' groupings don't seem to do anything good at all, but rather they blame entire masses of people for problems in society, they direct hatred at them for things not their fault, they seek to deprive them of individuality by claiming that they should conform to some past 'social norms/expectations' and worst of all they often seek a return to those norms or expectations.

Typical Gen Y/Gen Z stereotypes:

"Young people are lazy, unmotivated, dependent, entitled, selfish, spoiled, hooligans, drug addicts etc"

"Young people are wimps and weaklings, who grow up undisciplined and with no respect for authority"

"Young men are more like weak girls these days, they are not tough, strong men like they should be. They could never defend our country."

"Idiot 'liberals' have created an entire generation of weak, undisciplined, wimps and cry babies."

Usually the type of people making these stupid stereotypes are conservative reactionaries, who oppose all of the liberal reforms in the past decades that has greatly benefited our generation. No longer is it acceptable for teachers to abuse children in school and no longer are boys expected to 'toughen up' and deal with abuse from teachers or peers 'like a man'. There are much better standards for treatment of children, and treatment of people in general, social stereotypes still exist, but there has been much progress on combating issues such as homophobia and gender roles. Social expectations have been pushed back, and there is greater respect for individuality. We have greater freedom and liberty, much of it fought for by previous generations, and now some ignorant members of those generations (a small miniority) would see us create a whole new wave of oppression.

I find their comments extremely misanthropic. There views are oppressive, hatefull, backwards and illiberal; which is precisely the wrong message.
 

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Oooh lots of delusional people replying. The article is completely true. The angry hostile reaction it is getting (from our good friend denial) is reinforcement to me that the article is true.

Im just glad I figured out you can't really have it all, and the way I have lived an unusual life of sometimes great privilege was to simply not prioritize other things. You know, normal yuppie things. Ironically I now live more truly yuppie than most of my high school friends who did the normal thing with family photos and two story houses.

I was content to be a gypsy ...a real actual one who moved around a lot and isn't a man of property.

Im not a man. I don't own property.
 

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That post was awesome and probably needs to be stickied.

I was force-fed, ''You can do anything you want to do,'' and 'Why not be a veterinarian AND a marine biologist?' and 'Follow your heart!'

But, with an open mind and a love for constructive criticism, I discovered that the key to doing something amazing is to work really hard at what you want, and spend a lot of time on it. At least 5 hours a day of drawing, for instance.
 

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Obviously being entitled and thinking you're just going to get everything handed to you in life isn't going to make you successful but the way the author generalizes this to an entire "generation" while completely ignoring structural economic and social realities is about as wrong-headed as it gets. I think this sort of "analysis" is appealing to people because while superficially it seems to reject crass individualism, it actually celebrates it--people read this stuff and come away thinking they're so much smarter than all their entitled peers and they've succeeded solely by grit and moxie, OR people read it and think they are unsuccessful simply because they haven't met some arbitrary social standard of what constitutes "hard work."
More confining people into neat little boxes 'generations' and applying the most ridiculuous of stereotypes based upon the most arbitary of concepts; the years in which you where born!
Social problems exist not because of structural problems in society, but because of a vaguely defined group of people born between two arbitrary years who were born and then passively existed until they died. Things will be all better once me and my friends are in charge.
 

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I was force-fed, ''You can do anything you want to do,'' and 'Why not be a veterinarian AND a marine biologist?' and 'Follow your heart!'
I was told to get a job in something that pays well and you can making a living off of. I was also pretty much put to work when I was sitting around the house (with my parents owning 80 acres of land across the road there was plenty of work). Almost everyone I know was told the same. A good chunk of my friends basically just got jobs out of high school because college wasn't going to be worth it for them.
 

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I was force-fed, ''You can do anything you want to do,'' and 'Why not be a veterinarian AND a marine biologist?' and 'Follow your heart!'
Lots of people have been told these things for a long time. The difference is it used to be that, while you might not get your dream job, there was probably another job you could take that paid well and offered you a chance at a decent, comfortable life. Now you don't get your dream job and if you don't like it you can work at Burger King or Sears.
 

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To all of those against this article, citing how inaccurate it is or that "it doesn't apply to me," can you really not see how it applies to those around you? To most of your friends? Even to yourself, on a subconscious level--due perhaps because you were taught that way?

Truth is, I feel like I've transcended a lot of it. But I still admit the problem exists, and probably still exists in my subconscious.

Are we in denial, or have you guys all truly not seen this all around you? In yourself even?
 

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To all of those against this article, citing how inaccurate it is or that "it doesn't apply to me," can you really not see how it applies to those around you? To most of your friends? Even to yourself, on a subconscious level--due perhaps because you were taught that way?

Truth is, I feel like I've transcended a lot of it. But I still admit the problem exists, and probably still exists in my subconscious.

Are we in denial, or have you guys all truly not seen this all around you? In yourself even?
You're older Gen Y, we're not quite as special you know :kitteh:

We still have some Gen X funk left on us from being socially cognizant in the 90s.
 

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I relate to the being taunted on facebook part. Celebrities taunt us too, and there's lot's more to buy these days compared to a couple of generations back.

What I dislike about the article is the non-explained glorification of 'working hard' - whatever that means. The Nazis put up an "Arbeit macht frei" (hard work will set you free) sign at one of their labor camps where people went to die. That's why I get suspicious of people who try and persuade me that hard work will get me places. During my adult life I have experienced that my hard work usually makes other people - who work less hard - extremely rich.

Still, on a fundamental level there's no arguing the simple equation "happiness= reality - expectations".
 

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I don't really know why these "Gen Y is sooo spoiled and entitled" articles keep coming out, but the paranoid side of me thinks it might be some sort of propaganda to keep the young people down and make them think that things are supposed to be this way, that they're supposed to work and work and work and get into massive debt and have nothing to show for it in the end. If we have ambitions then we're called entitled but if we decide we want to live small and boring lives then we're called lazy slackers.

Living an extraordinary life would be nice, but what I dream about more than anything is living an ordinary, boring, stable life.
My sentiments exactly! Thanks for putting it into words.
 
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