The stereotypes of Gen Y have been beaten to death. Arrogant. Ungrateful. Rebellious. Stubborn. Know-it-alls – and the overarching idea that we’re better than anyone and everyone who’s come before us.
Some have truth, others, not so much. I’ve held firm to the belief that we are a victim of circumstance. That our beliefs and ideals are not drastically different from those of previous generations, but that our circumstance, the environment we’ve grown up in, and the tools at our disposal, has a dramatic impact on the way we think. The way we tick.
I’ve tacked the label of “Generation Now“, Justin Kan, a 28 year old entrepreneur and founder of Justin.tv, labels us as “Generation Make“. Last week on TechCrunch, he shared some great insight into the mindset of a millennial.
“We are a generation of makers. A generation of creators. Maybe we don’t have the global idealism of the hippies. Our idealism is more individual: that every person should be able to live their own life, working on what they choose, creating what they choose. If you want to build a company to change the world, go for it. If you want to be an independent knife maker, what is stopping you?
We follow our passions. If we do it as a business, then we can create the ability to support ourselves doing what we love, and with some measure of security and autonomy that no institution is going to grant us. The Millennial path to self-actualization is the individual path, each man to create it for himself.”
In short, we believe the world is at our fingertips. That we have shit to say. That anything that can be done, will be done, and that we can do it, or find a way to make it happen.
Maybe the shift has a lot to do with the institutions we thought would have our back, government and big business, being a complete mess over the past decade. Even with promises of “change we can believe in”, our generation knows that change must come from within. We know we can’t wait for others to make things happen and pave the way for us, that we have to take things upon ourselves.
But even more than that, we’re seeing so many others around us have great success in their careers, which translates to a more exciting, vibrant, adventurous personal life. And really, isn’t that what we all want?
We all want freedom, we want to live each day fully, and we want to do be able to purse the things that REALLY matter to us. If that means creating our own work to get there, we’ll do whatever it takes to pursue and track down our missions in life.
There’s a dramatic shift in our way of thinking, as Justin puts it:
“…if we’re on the web or at a store and something we want doesn’t exist, our first thought is not “why?” but simply that maybe we should create it ourselves.”
This philosophy sums up what our generation, and the generations that follow us, is all about. I’m proud as hell to be a part of the continued movement that doesn’t ask “what?” but instead always wants to know “why?”. And then takes it upon themselves to make things happen. It’s an exciting time to be alive.
We are a generation of creators. Makers. Questioners. Challengers. Innovators. Thinkers. And above all, a generation of doers.
What are you doing?