Column: Striving for perfect creates lofty expectation
Oct. 28, 2011
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
“I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful.” - Drake
It’s everywhere, not just in the advertisements you see every day or the music you listen to while you work out. It’s in your head.
If you’re anything like me, you spend most of your time balancing activities and work, and you spend the short expanses of free time that you have thinking about where you’re going from where you are.
Whether you’re stressed or dreaming, the future is something we’ve all been brought up to think about. As a generation, we went from No Child Left Behind all throughout our youth to “don’t get left behind” in the years just before college. Now in college, we’re securing majors before it’s too late, dealing with what we want to do and what we need to do.
In a similarly personal way, the cycle of our youth is repeating itself. “What is your major?” and “What do you want to do?” used to be the same question.
Now, futures seem more up to the individual than the individual’s degree program. I personally know strategic communication majors that want to be lawyers, agents, publicists and Don Draper.
Are we focused too much on what we want? Previous generations frown at the congregations outside of Wall Street who chant for socioeconomic equality.
Ron Alsop of The Wall Street Journal writes, "When Gretchen Neels, a Boston-based consultant, was coaching a group of college students for job interviews, she asked them how they believe employers view them. She gave them a clue, telling them that the word she was looking for begins with the letter ‘e.’ One young man shouted out, ‘excellent.’ Other students chimed in with ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘energetic.’ Not even close. The correct answer, she said, is ‘entitled.’“
Like the employees, the workplace is changing, that’s a sure thing. New companies such as Facebook and Groupon promote creative, suit-free workplaces and de-stressed environments. Offices and hiring policies are changing to adapt to the needs of the millennial generation. Alsop states that millennials demand higher pay (74 percent of respondents), flexible work schedules (61 percent), a promotion within a year (56 percent) and more vacation or personal time (50 percent).
Is this too much? Managers of corporate offices voice these facts as complaints. But like we heard all throughout high school and still hear now, it’s a well-known fact that college degrees are required more now than ever. Credentials are the prerequisite for employment nowadays, so with the changing demands from companies to hire you as an employee, it only makes sense that the employee demands more from the company.
But it makes for an interesting case that we’ve all been convinced we’re individually special, and what’s resulted is a generation of (at least seemingly) entitled, highly skilled employees who hold out for the perfect.
You’re probably thinking what I thought at first: I’m not entitled. What are they talking about? I work hard. I’m motivated. But we’ve all had teachers assign extra credit simply because we showed up at lecture at 9:30 a.m. and most of the class didn’t.
I know a lot of people with real jobs that start at 9 a.m. I know more people with real jobs that start before 9 a.m.
We’ve heard about how great we are for a bit too long from our parents, to whom we are “the best” and also incredibly indebted. Even Steve Jobs said in his commencement speech to Stanford’s 2005 graduating class, “Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”
And to some extent, finding what you love is all you can do. Logistically, though, it won’t always be your best option, or an option at all.
So, do you compromise, or do you hold out for the perfect? The stages of decisions in life keep getting harder and always will. For now, I’m just grateful I have the opportunity to make them.