“My life feels like a test I didn’t study for.”
– quote from a Millennial
“…if this nation has any chance of survival, of carrying its traditions deep into the 21st century, it will in no small part depend on members of my generation, Generation X, the last Americans schooled in the old manner, the last Americans that know how to fold a newspaper, take a joke, and listen to a dirty story without losing their minds … We are the last Americans to have the old-time childhood. It was coherent, hands-on, dirty, and fun.” – ‘Why Generation X Might Be Our Last, Best Hope’ By Rick Cohen, Vanity Fair
I am also part of Generation X. We experienced life without the internet, emails, cell and smart phones and navigated through different challenges and struggles, from the revolutions and socioeconomic upheavals of the 1970s; the celebrated greed of the 1980s and the structural transformations of the 1990s. The same challenges exist for today’s young adults but with many more layers of social and cultural complexity. Technology, under the direction of the social engineers is only making things worse, since it offers yet another form of addiction on top of intense political and ideological interference, all of which is channelled through these younger generations who have almost no defences against it.
I found making sense of our Official Culture immensely challenging during my twenties and early thirties manifesting as depression and panic attacks, the struggle of which took up most of my sense of self. It eventually required serious soul-searching and the confrontation of the root causes of these fears and traumas in order to move forward. I was lucky to have assistance in that endeavour even if it was a form of “tough-love” to get me to the place where a more objective perspective was possible. Such a process is deeply unpleasant; often like a form of dying as emotions are healed and the old, false self of programming and egoic survival is stripped away. This takes time, effort and a lot of patience, which is one reason why it is so assiduously avoided.
So, I have sympathy with the psychological crisis that millennials are facing and how important it is that they are given the information and assistance to turn their lives around. But it will be monumental task.
When children have been brought up to be narcissistic and entitled through no fault of their own; where society itself normalises those same qualities, young people have to attempt to navigate through such a morass of conflicting messages and superficial dross that it is no wonder they are floundering. Millennials have (literally) everything at their fingertips but wholly attached to unrealistic aims and ambitions, but detached from social skills and dynamics that would build and sustain them through the inevitable challenges they must face. In one sense, we are witnessing a re-run of the 1960s, that surge in potential awareness of what could be…This time, a genuine millennial passion is shackled by prior conditioning, an unstable foundation that is constantly shifting beneath their feet making it all but impossible to orient themselves. They have been brought to believe themselves special; nurtured to anticipate and expect great things, but they do not have the inner resources to match the outer reality. Hence, the internal or external “hissy fit” when expectations fail to match that reality, be that from differing views or workplace demands.
When seeking to analyse and appraise younger generations and the challenges they must face, there are no doubt plenty of exceptions to this rule and a great many young adults who do not fit into the following psychological profile. Yet, it seems there are not enough, otherwise we wouldn’t be having the symptoms rising up in our youth that we do. Similarly, the following is not designed to rip apart millennials in order to feel better about my own generation. It is concerned with pin-pointing the problems in order to achieve clarity and possible solutions. The older generations have a responsibility to assist those who come after since, as parents, we have also played a part in shaping them. With the right kind of mentoring and the right kind of knowledge, they might develop the self-awareness and life skills they need. Building that knowledge-base will be up to them, as will facing their fears and discovering their own higher nature and creativity within. Our collective future depends on it.