I'm about 3/4 done with the outlining of my first book, which will hopefully get picked up by someone and published. The basic gist of the book is a series of essays by myself and potentially others who are Gen Y'ers addressed to the Gen X'ers and the Boomers. Mostly, I think they need to hear what we have to say; the oldest of us turns 30 this year, and we're very quickly moving from children into the working majority, and as the latest election shows, we actually get out and vote, and we vote progressive. That doesn't necessarily mean we vote Democrat, it just means we vote for change, and we expect it immediately. That's one of the defining characteristics of our generation; expectation of instant gratification.
In short, we are going to become nightmare bosses.
One thing that plagues Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 2000) is the "Trash Collector Paradox". When teachers ask their students "if you could be anything you want when you grow up what would you be?" there is a 100% chance that every kid chooses a fun, rewarding job, and a 0% chance that any kid will choose "garbace collector" or "sanitation worker" or "street sweeper" or "night shift grocery store restocker" but the vast majority of jobs in this country are those. If we were a nation with thousands and thousands of teachers, pilots, doctors, cowboys, and professional athletes, we would have a colorful society...that simply could not function. This phenomena has really reached new heights with the Y's. Our parents and teachers conditioned us (with good intentions, do not misunderstand me) to think we were all destined to reach new heights of achievement, through our daily lives and work. We should not content ourselves with simply working a job to make money...we should work a job that makes us happy, and benefits society, and uses this super-abundant amount of potential each and everyone of us apparently has.
Unfortunately, not each and every one of us has abundant potential, as noted by the increasing numbers of Gen Y in jail, dropping out of school, or not getting hired at their dream jobs. Suddenly, Gen Y kids are taking whatever they can get. This leads to a weird scenario for the masses of Gen Y kids who grew up planning to be a doctors but are now receptionists at a doctor's office.
Malcontentedness is to what I am alluding. The whole of Gen Y has this idea in our heads that if we aren't working God's Gift To Jobs then we aren't doing the right job, and we should try to get out of it. It's really not our fault, it's the Boomer's fault, for telling us we were so amazing. The only thing we did wrong is believe them. Now it's possible that we do have limitless untapped potential, and the Boomers were looking out for us, pushing us to give ourselves the gift of greatness. But the fact is, someone must collect the trash once a week, and it won't be the retired Boomers.
In a way, the Boomers did us a great service, for they instilled in our generation the ability to dream of something better, which I think was lost to Gen X. They taught us that we can be what we want to be, and in a way, part of the American Dream is wanting something better for your kids than what you had. So we must forgive them, their intent, though maligned, was entirely altruistic.
But they also did our generation a huge disservice by making jobs that are honorable and necessary seem beneath our blessed hands. When a garbage collector comes by my apartment, I do not envy him, because he is doing awful, back-breaking, dangerous work and he makes less than I do. But on the other hand I am grateful to him for doing it. His job, in a way, is more important than mine. But I have to wonder (when I see that he is about the same age as I am) if he dreams for something better. Does he go home at night, exhausted, and look through the paper for a new job? Or has he found contentment simply in work?
My generation has lost the ability to just be happy to work. We feel compelled to find work that makes us happy. I think Gen Y would be served well by having to read the first half of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle every once in a while. With the economy the way it is, dream jobs are disappearing fast, and soon we may be standing in line hoping for a chance to shovel fertilizer 14 hours a day.
Update: It was quickly noted to me (acerbically) that we might as well call ourselves the "blame generation" if we are going to blame our parents for every bad trait we have. However, in this case I believe I am justified; if you give your dog scraps from your dinner table, do you blame the dog, or yourself when at the next meal he comes and begs at your feet? Our vocational malcontentedness is a product of how we were raised, and the things that were told to us by our elders.