The Millennial Dilemma

A generation of highly ambitious, positive and creative people but mostly lost souls. 

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Graphic by iconicTYPE

We are the product of two previous post-war generations reaping the rewards of a peaceful new world. Anything you could dream of would be possible, so why do most of us feel lost? In short, we now live in a world where most of the rewards have already been won. Now we can only assist those winners in becoming multi-winners. Yet there is still hope for our generation, we all grew up being told we were winners when we came 7th place in a race, so let’s create that world. Everyone can be winners in a fair and just world.

Before we explore new ideas for the 21st Century lets rewind back to the late 1940s. Baby boomers (1946-1964) are the post war generation (your grandparents) who grew up directly after WW2 with no memory of the war other than the fresh stories from their family. In this new age most countries who fought or were impacted by the war were being rebuilt, giving nearly any member of society a chance of success. Then came Generation X (1965-1980), this generation (your parents) saw the success of their parents, giving that its been ~30 years since the war ended, most of the rebuilding phase had now been complete. We are now in an era of liberty, were people can express themselves freely. This new modern age is also advanced by technology, which gave Gen X the ability to continue succeeding. 

Now welcome the Millennial (1981-1996) who will enter the 21st Century young with ambitious dreams and surrounded by success stories. Unfortunately the reality ends up being quite different. Of course there is much success in all generations (as well as failure and contentment) however the millennial generation happen to be born at the peak of the post war opportunity.

I am speaking generally in terms of opportunity, I’m well aware that the internet gives new opportunities to everyone with access to it. My point is that most opportunities even created by the internet have already been taken. All we have now is huge corporations and conglomerates and copycat brands and services. We did have small businesses with fresh ideas and a unique local vibe however the pandemic is raging war against those, leaving the big guys to clean house. 

What options do current day Millennials and Gen Z have?
Pre Pandemic we had three main ways to carve out our own piece of success. We have lost and continue to lose ocal businesses, especially hospitality to COVID-19. Obviously no one is starting a new cafe, restaurant or bar right now and most people will be afraid to do so for a long time after the vaccine circulates globally. Again there will of course be outliers who will succeed, and that’s great as we need these brave people to add variety to our life.

Post Pandemic, this leaves us with mostly internet based businesses or businesses that can adapt to remote work. You can go down the route of releasing a new physical product, either an existing product with unique branding or a new invention. Both of which face the risk of getting copied by existing players or struggling to market yourself where most commerce is taken place over a few marketplace platforms controlled by huge corporations who will also likely copy your idea.

So far life seems somewhat bleak, no wonder we’re lost souls. However there are two other options to differentiate yourself in a world where everything has already been done.

  1. Learn to code: your options become limitless, you can literally create any digital product you want. Whatever you dream can become a reality. Remember that thought? That idea you grew up with, it is possible.
  2. Create Content: Whether it’s video, audio, written or graphical, if you can create valuable content then people will come to you and you’ll also add value to their lives.

What makes both options special?
You don’t need permission, money or external help (although it is widely available online and mostly free) to do either of these things. You can literally create your own destiny, but also as a result vastly improve the lives of others that are less fortunate.

What advantage do Millennials and Gen Z have?
We have genuine empathy for each other, care for our planet and have hope for a better future. 

We thought by now that we’d have flying cars and end world hunger. Not yet but technological and scientific advances have given us the iPhone and a relatively quick vaccine to our current biological threat. At the same time 10% (Likely much higher as the world bank estimate is defined as living on less than $1.90 a day) of the world population are still poverty stricken, whether long term or due to COVID-19 when the top 1% hoard billions and our governments let them continue to monopolise and reward them with lower tax rates. 

This is the greatest systemic failure in modern times. Yes, profit and capitalism are fine but profit for profits sake and the current rocket like trajectory of the worlds richest companies are meaningless when we still have ‘third world countries’ and people in ‘first world countries’ needing charity.

So what is the Millennial dilemma?
We grew up seeing success but when we came of age all we see is greed. All we wanted was an equal piece of the pie. Instead we get the crusts, while the first world poor get the crumbs and third world poor only get the scent.

How do we overcome this dilemma?
Create your own realistic version of success, either using the methods described or via your own initiative. You then pay it forward by helping others in whatever way you’re capable of. There is no act too big or small, as long as it is relative to your success. This will give you the purpose and fulfilment that you seek.

I write this as a fellow millennial, who has taken my second point of content creation quite literally. This is an opinion piece written from my own experience with no research other than were cited. I hope this essay gives you clarity and a new sense of confidence.

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