Short answer; No.
I’ve been told that I am incapable of taking responsibility for my own actions, which is not entirely my fault. I’ve also been told, mostly by my father, that I am impatient. Both of these flaws put together are probably the root causes of a lot of the troubles of my adult life, but more for the sake of company than factual grounding, I’d like to make the case that these traits are at the heart of many of my fellow Millennials problems as well.
In the interest of avoiding those sweeping generalizations that tend to get my generational cohorts all in a tizzy, I’ll try and stick to the subsection of Millennials I know personally. So really I guess the only ones I get to talk about authoritatively are the early to mid 20’s, slightly arty set from Dallas, Texas. But you, my lovely reader, may spread out the implications of this article as far as you might wish.
To start with, and I think I alluded to this earlier, it’s not my fault. I blame the 90’s. What a terrible fucking decade. Full House, Family Matters, Sister Sister, Boy Meets World, it doesn’t really matter what shows you watched during this period, they all had the same terrible cloying message at the end; “Everything works out. It always, always, does”. And where could you go as a child in the 90’s without being told “You can be anything you want to be, if you just want it bad enough.”?
Enter the 2010’s, and wanting it bad enough has been the battle cry for would be artists for the last 20 years yet none but a few of us have reached those stars. Still the media industrial complex keeps pumping out the moral “Dream big” and row after row of big dreamer’s line up to be authors, actors, singers, and cake decorators.
As much as I love being surrounded by a community of my fellow slight artists/waiters. It’s a little disheartening to see just how many of us want that creative life when even the slimmest knowledge of probability tells me that most, if not all of us, will not end up with it. For every one prospective author I meet, I feel myself slip further away from my goals. How do I compete with the rising unlikelihood of any of us being the next F. Scott Fitzgerald? The fact that the 90’s neglected to tell us, was that the profitable creative life has a very low acceptance rate.
And so no one reads my manuscript and no one is properly excited about my potential, because they’re all so selfishly concerned with their own manuscripts and potential (the bastards). This is where blaming others comes into the mix. I am almost positive that when people don’t appreciate something I’ve created the fault is theirs. It’s so much easier to be a misunderstood genius than an understood but ignored non-genius.
I don’t want to jump on the whole hard-work bandwagon most recently made famous by Ashton Kutcher’s speech to an audience that apparently believed they were at some sort of shrieking convention. I do feel however that age is catching up with me and what my parents told me about effort begins to line up with my own experiences. I’m not admitting they were right or anything, I’m still right, but I’ve come to an odd point in life where idealism and practicality are like warring factions in my brain dueling it out for control of my point of view. It just seems less and less likely that it will all work out and that’s what I’ve been sitting on my ass hoping for all this time.
Wanting it bad enough is not enough, I get that now. Being smart, talented, pure of heart, and true of character, none of that seems to mean squat either (not that I have any of that stuff, I’m just saying). It seems to me that luck and persistence play an equal hand in success. But still we’re all waiting for the big break, the talent spotter that just happens to be in the car next to us while we belt out Wrecking Ball at a stop light, who takes us away from waiting tables and bidding time in the unremarkable for the big time, whatever that may be. I think people want success because they think it’s synonymous with a worry-free life. This leads me to wonder how all us big dreamers define success.
I’m still at that post college lull, where I don’t get the security of a clearly defined path. I don’t have a career and I didn’t chose the most marketable degree. Plus I’m still one of those idiots who thinks their life is destined to have some greater purpose or meaning. If I really was to examine it, I’d say that I want to write professionally because writing is the only thing I’ve ever been any good at and I enjoy it. I feel happy and complete when I write in a way that no job has so far been able to satisfy me. But now I’m starting to wonder where I draw the line of success with writing. If I write something and I’m pleased with it, is that enough? If I write something and I’m pleased with it and my friends read it and enjoy it, is that enough? If I write something and I’m pleased with it and ten strangers read it, is that enough? If I write something and I’m pleased with it and 10,000 strangers read it, is that enough? … ad nauseum. Basically, when do I begin to be a success?
I want other people to love me so that I can be happy. People I don’t know, people I don’t want to know, I want more love than I know what to do with, so then maybe I can be satisfied. And I want money so I never have to worry about bills again and I want to the people who love me to provide that money for me. I want this stuff because it’s not my fault I’m not happy, it’s yours, and oh yeah, I want it right now. Skip the rejection letters and effort to convince anyone to give my work a chance. I want it, I want it badly, and I believe in myself so why isn’t it right here right now right in front of my?
I don’t know anything about other millennials, but I’d like to think this is an affliction I share. I know that all my slightly arty friends probably put a good deal more effort it to their art then I do, but I also know that all of us have gazed wistfully into the distance and thought with a sigh, “If only I were rich/famous”. I just want the life that was promised me. I’ve dreamed big, so why is no one knocking down my door begging to read my manuscript.