A friend once told me that Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf was a completely different book at 30. I was 19 and had just finished reading it.
Two things happened when I read Rebecca Thorman’s post on Penelope Trunk’s blog, The Brazen Careerist:
- What the Hell is she talking about!
- Oh my God! When did I become the older generation?
Whenever my friends or coworkers catch me (or I catch myself) falling for a new fad or getting into a new pop singer, I joke that I have my “thumbs on the pulse of young America.” I purposefully say “thumbs” instead of “finger on the pulse” because I realize that incongruity of the situation. The likelihood of my being socially clumsy prevails. In most cases, I am a decade older than my “fad peers” and find the fad engaging based on an almost wholly different aesthetic.
My aesthetic, the things that move me, and my experience inform my attitudes towards my professional and personal life.
When Rebecca writes about “Generation Y’s readiness to assume all the leadership positions,” I want to write: Who isn’t? Who hasn’t at one point or another imagined how much better things would be if they were in charge? Who hasn’t at one point or another thought, “I could do better”? The question is: Is it really better?
When she writes, “Idealism is what changes the world,” I want to write: Wrong. Idealism is nice but it your willingness to get your hands dirty or put your shoulder to the grindstone that will move the world. Join us in the drudge and the mire before you start saying the drudge isn’t drudgey enough or the mire, mirey. Before you rush to change the world, take a moment to experience and understand what motivates it.
When she writes, “What can I say? I’m a team player,” I want to tell her: Welcome to the team, Princess, please hang your tierra and your scepter up in the closet next to my leather jacket.
I know I sound like a “cynical Gen Xer,” but I am going to channel my grandmother, and tell Rebecca about how easy she has it compared to what I had. I’m also going to tell her that sometimes the process is just as important as the end product. Before you start telling people what’s wrong with the world, ask them if they think its wrong too.
Channeling my grandmother further, I am going to end by saying: I know you don’t believe me but you should trust me when I tell you I was right where you are now 20 years ago.