Waiting to Fly: A Generation Comes of Age

As Generation Y matures from youths to adults, it’s hard to understand why so many of us harbor irreconcilable differences between the generations before us. Beneath the veneer, the millennials are just a bunch of men and women facing the same rites of passage as our parents. Though the nuances are unique per generation, the core value holds for all of humanity: It’s a story of coming-of-age and self-acceptance. As we mature over the next four decades, we will, like our forefathers, hold the reigns of the American economy.

Generation Y grew up in an era that shook the foundations of our country. Due to our youth, we sat on our hands as our lives convulsed in change. With the rise of domestic security, and a subsequent recession, the world became an aloof place segregated by corporations of greed and politics of power.

For most of the last decade, we watched older men and women make decisions that dramatically influenced our lives; yet, we had no say on the outcomes. We went to war under an oil baron defending a country under attack, and we lost our savings to avaricious capitalists misestimating an opaque and increasingly complex economy.

With the advent of equally biased media, we could only induce a world that’s ruled by conspiring politics of greed and corporations of power. Though the truth is wrought less of malice, the inference of dishonest men will never leave our hearts. It’s the same reason why gossip prevails despite facts contradicting slander.

As we grew older, our distaste for greed and malice forged a stoic identity that refused to acquiesce to the enmity that ran rampant across our country. To us, resistance was not an act of arrogance or defiance, it’s a restitution against a world succumbed to the immoralities of our childhood antagonists.

As our local Google, Apple, and Facebook grew into global behemoths, we obliquely confirmed our destiny. We don’t need to invade countries, or gamble on stocks; we can be better than that. We can tweet pictures of food.

As sons and daughters of humble engineers, our generation found mathematics and technology as expected knowledge, rather than formidable excursions. Instead of accepting math as our experienced field of study, no different than farmers with horticulture or writers with diction, we viewed our discipline as an intrinsic identifier of our distinction. We had no doubt that we’ll build great empires, especially relative to the ordinary populace.

We watched movies where heroes triumphantly conquered greed-infested empires through acts of wisdom and courage. We played video games as champions who saved worlds through determination and valor. Our childhood engrained a philosophy that we were special individuals yet to realize our true potential. We are trainers from Pallet Town, warriors from Northshire Abbey, and residents of 4 Privet Drive.

We trampled through high school with our overly padded 4.0+ GPA’s, and breezed through college drunk off ego and pride. For the fraction of us who majored in computer science, we graduated into a world filled with such unbound opportunities that we accepted this opportune time in history as the status quo. Fogged glasses aside, technology is no different than the economic history of defense, marketing, music, finance, entertainment, housing, technology, data, and, soon-to-be, space.

When we think of an office job, we immediately lapse into the stereotypical Hollywood icon of the overworked 40-year old with a soul torn away by society. Somewhere between ages 13 and 22, we internally vowed to resist this cognation of the corporate machine. For us to dawn the suit and tie, is to accept and recede into a life that we no longer control. It’s an act of defeat. It’s to enter a world destined for greed induced recessions or opaquely righteous wars.

But how true is our distaste? We pride ourselves on the technologies of Google, Apple, and Facebook; yet, they are no different than the entities we were taught to contempt. Google provides information, Facebook connects friends, and Apple brought a world into a technological age. Yet on the flip side, Google controls the Internet, Facebook sells your information, and Apple panders phones to the 1%. In the end, it’s just rhetorics.

We hate Monsanto, but it fed more people than every high-priced organic farm combined. We hate banks, but they gave impetus for aspiring entrepreneurs to build empires. We hate the government, but on the whole, we live in a country naught of fear nor hunger, filled with justice and opportunity.

Our problems lie in more than just a mistrust of power; it poignantly reflects a self-worth unaugmented by reality. We are passionate and skilled individuals just waiting for the right opportunity, but in reality, how skilled are we?

Sure, we can all program a bit, and we’ve all written some decent code snippets in college, but our level of technological knowledge isn’t special anymore, it’s the norm. Yep, you can build cool mods off of game engines, but can you build the game engine itself? Sure, you can add amazing special effects to YouTube clips, but can you make a full-length movie that blurs the lines of reality? We are all pretty good at these basic skills, but are we in any way, overtly special? I don't deserve a Noble Prize in Literature because I can write grammatically correct sentences.

As the world matures and technology becomes widespread, our once arcane knowledge has become commonplace. Though my grandma still can’t send an email, everyone in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s can operate Excel, or defrag a hard drive. As we enter our mid-twenties, we still cling onto our beguiled intrinsic exceptionality. Instead of accepting our current lives as the veritas truth, we ignore it in favor of a better version, something more gildedly genuine.

For many of us, this refusal of acceptance isn’t arrogance nor stubbornness, its more sentiment. It’s a coping mechanism to deal with the realizations of a world that contradicts our hopes and dreams, and we need some impetus, any impetus, to stay positive and continue forward. Whether it’s feigned courage or seeming arrogance.

This ideal comes from a life that’s lined with cloaked hardships. Our childhoods were earmarked with wars, recessions, rising divorce rates, and crass medias. In further exacerbation, the above factors perpetuated an increase in generational drug use and painful social isolation. We are left with a societal melancholy hidden by a thin gold gilding.

A high school buddy of mine recently lost both a close friend and a family member; since, he has used opiates to cover the pain. He was a bright techie who could code better than I could, but twists of fate left him sitting on his hands as he watched his life exacerbate. Boundless opportunities slipped through his fingers due to decisions outside of his control, and what remains is a perplexed mistrust of the world. Sometimes, it’s easier to see yourself as a stoic spirit unencumbered by the greed of the world, than to accept a life that is decisive and unforgiving.

But that can’t be the truth; we are the chosen generation, we are special, and through all the hardships we traverse, we will prevail and save this world from the greed and corruption that run rampant across our country.

But we aren’t heroes; we are just a generation coming to age in a world filled with adversities. The world isn’t corrupt; it’s just a bunch of men and women like us dealing with their own problems. It’s misguided foresight and misunderstanding of another’s intentions. It’s honest mistakes coupled with desires to protect loved ones. There aren’t corrupt masochists drinking oil and dining on money; there are only people, like you and me.

We don’t accept facts, because they hurt. It’s not a just pinch on the arm, it's a punch in the gut that leaves you gasping for air. We grew up on stories of righteous success, doing what’s right, and to never give in to temptations of greed, but when life doesn’t follow the same story arc, a change in our world-image also invalidates our self-image. What are we anymore, just a bunch of average guys and gals struggling to make a living? No, that can’t be it. We are special, and we’d rather refuse the truth in harbor for something better, something more gildedly genuine.

To admit a life of normalcy is to accept a loss of our heroism and invincibility. It’s like Bruce Wayne fighting crime without his Bat Suit, and realizes that he can die from a bullet like everyone else. Ironically, Bruce has always been mortal, in or out of his disguise.

It’s depressing to change your self-perception from an entrepreneur working at Starbucks, to an employee of Starbucks. It’s painful to change your self-perception from a partying tech rock star, to a businessman sufficing on booze and weed. It crushes the soul to change your self-perception from a genius waiting to be discovered, to a twenty something year-old with nothing to show for.

We all have ambitions that we hold dear, but acceptance doesn't mean to give up on our dreams. Acceptance means to progress forward ungilded by false hopes.

San Francisco is 5 miles from Oakland, but that doesn’t mean we can take a straight line from point A to point B. We can’t fly like birds; we are only men and women resorting to our feet, the Muni, and the Bart. All our lives we were taught to believe in ourselves, but self-encouragement isn't a conclusion, it's an impetus for progress.

Though the world is harsh, it’s also filled with unbound opportunities. Instead of holding onto some dream and a gilded truth, we have to accept our realities so we can progress towards the future we deserve. Do you want to design video games? Don’t wait until Blizzard or Valve hires you; build your game in Java and distribute it as an Indie developer. You want to get funded? Learn to code in Cocoa or Swift, build an app, and publish it onto the App store. You want to work with data? Scrape a dataset, build visualizations, and make key insights.

Maybe right now, we are just mediocre, but that means nothing for the remainder of our amazing lives. To accept the truth is a painful realization of our own normalcy, but it’s the first step to build the future we were meant to accomplish.

Our generation is special. We live in an age where technology has all but depleted the mind-numbing labor that humans have toiled for subsistence. We live in an era where we have the resources and time to make ennobled changes to a dynamic world full of opportunities. We lived through the creation of the Internet, digitization, and for God’s sakes, we can email wrenches to space stations. How incredible is that! And within a few decades, we are going to explore different planets!

We are a special generation because we have so much opportunity ahead of us, and in twenty years, we will control the direction of our country. Maybe your first job out of college isn’t as glorious as you thought you deserved; instead of architecting a database, you are repetitively tapping buttons that anyone could have done. But life isn’t quick and easy, it’s a journey that’s labyrinthine, arduous, and beautiful.

There’s no instant gratification like our video games, and sometimes you just want to give up and return to a life more gildedly genuine. But hold dear to the determination that we’ve internalized, and pertinently progress to the future that we deserve. We can’t change the past, and we can’t change the present, but the future holds no bounds.

Since we were kids, we were told that we’re special. Nintendo told us that we have unlimited potential, and if we believe in ourselves, we can do anything. As we mature, the life we expect is not the life we live, and we start to lose faith in more than just ourselves. But success isn’t immediate; it’s a process that requires persistence and self-acceptance. And though, a lot of us are currently mediocre, that means nothing for the future we can potentially forge.

Ever since we were kids, we were told that “We are special.” This statement isn’t a stoic truth; it’s a call to action. It’s a dare to fulfill a prophecy of a future we were destined to establish.

We can wait to fly, or we can start walking.

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