So there I was, at my graduation ceremony. It was just coming down on me that I had actually finished college. No more classes to take and no more requirements to be done. We were officially declared as graduates, but no one had prepared us for what was next. There was that dreaded question floating in the air – what now? Yes, we are now degree-holders and we were given enough background to pursue a future of our own interest, but what now? At age 20, I feel like I have done nothing!
This overbearing anxiety and need to accomplish something is not uncommon among Gen Zeds. What most people generally refer to when they say “millennials” are actually those born from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, which is the Generation Z. I would say being part of this generation is kind of confusing as my childhood consisted of going out and playing street games with neighbors while also sometimes playing Pokémon for hours and using the computer every so often. Gen Alphas (children born 2010 onwards) are often berated for having their eyes glued to the screen from when they were toddlers, having lots of entertaining applications at their disposal. Gen Zeds are much different, as technology did flourish during our time but was not as easily accessible to everyone yet.
The childhood I fondly look back on can be an entirely different experience for other Gen Zeds. I find that being born at the cusp of the “boom” of technology is pretty advantageous as we grew up without having some things at the tips of our fingers (unlike the Gen Alphas) but we also know the efficiency and ease of using technology to improve our daily routines. It is pretty great to have that mix growing up. It is not only when it comes to growing up that Gen Zeds have had quite a different experience, but also in making choices about the future.
I was finished with schooling and was now supposed to face the so-called “real life.” We, Gen Zeds, have to come to terms with the crippling pressure that we must take on a new endeavor and immediately succeed on it. Some (older) adults keep saying that when they were at our age, they have already achieved numerous things and managed to save up for the future. However, at present time, we cannot exactly achieve the same things with the same effort they have exerted. We would have to juggle several jobs to save money while also paying college debts and thinking about the future. The minimum wage back then can get you farther than how it can now. This is also why Gen Zeds appear to be more career-oriented than family-oriented because as long as we can’t even afford to keep ourselves alive, we would not be taking on any further responsibility than we can manage.
So why exactly is it so uneasy to be part of the Gen Z? It’s because we feel like time is running out for us and that we should already be successful adults by now, but at the same time, we also feel like we should have time to enjoy ourselves instead of fully enveloping the “adult life” ahead of us. That is exactly where I am now. It has been a little over a month after graduating college and I feel like I deserve to rest and enjoy myself, but I cannot ignore that booming voice that tells me to work and actually accomplish something for once. The pressure we feel can come from various factors. For most, the pressure comes from their families. Sometimes, the pressure can also come from hearing about other people’s achievements. The pressure isn’t all societal, but can also be personal. As part of the Gen Z, I have subconsciously subjected myself to the pressure that is already present in my environment, therefore doubling the existing pressure to succeed. Being dazed and confused, we must be easy on ourselves and see that there may actually be a sweet spot in the middle – chasing for success while also enjoying our 20s.
We definitely had a different childhood than the Millennial and Alpha generations, and would, therefore, have different expectations when it comes to what we think we are capable of. Whatever decisions we make, know that we have experienced a different upbringing than the other generations and therefore cannot be generalized as a group. We can say that each generation has its own perks and poisons, but in the end, it will all essentially boil down to how we make our own opportunities and encourage our self-growth.