Are We Entitled To A Vacation?
Nowadays we hear a lot about entitlement. Are we entitled to free healthcare? Or free education? Are we entitled to a job that does not take advantage of us, because we are nothing but a small, replaceable employee in a huge and powerful corporation? How about life-work balance? Are we entitled to a vacation? It is a heated debate, a generational conflict. Are we entering the entitlement revolution?
Attention: this post is full of stereotypes. Not everyone thinks like this and it isn’t supposed to show universal truth. It is simply my opinion on the general traits of my generation and why I believe we are often misunderstood by others.
Millennials are known as the Tip of the Entitlement Iceberg
I’m a Millennial. Yes, I grew up in an upper middle class bubble. Yes, I am grateful that my parents were able to support me when I grew up. I never had to suffer any serious lack of anything as a child and after. I understand and value that I am truly lucky for when and where I was born. But this safety net also allowed me to spread my wings early and follow my passion. My parents chose jobs because they made sense and would provide stability.
I chose my job because of my passions, interests and how it fits into my lifestyle. Instead of working in a cubicle from 9-5 for the next 35 years until I retire, I get to work from home, from the beach, from wherever I am. Awesome perks, right? But everything comes at a tradeoff. I don’t have the financial stability of a paycheck. I don’t have income, when I get sick. I can’t drop my work at 5 PM, I keep working until the project is done. After deducting my expenses and how many hours I work, I probably earn less than I would in a traditional employee role. But that is ok, because it is my choice and I love my freedom.
Search for Fulfillment vs Buying a House
I believe the whole debate about entitlement goes so much deeper than asking for free stuff. It is a different ideology. Millennials have a different mindset. We don’t necessarily share the same goals as our parents. We don’t even define success the same way. For our parents, success is a stable, prestigious career, a house, a family and a healthy bank account. For me and many other Millennials, success is a career that fulfills us and gives us the freedom to travel and spend time with our family and friends.
Yes, financial security is nice, but mere consumerism doesn’t do it for us. Instead of buying things, we spend money on experiences. Many of the boundaries that constrained the generations before us, don’t exist any longer. Our path in life isn’t quite as set in stone as it was for the generations before us. While our parents were stuck in a fill-in-the-blank mad lips story, our future is a story that we are free to write from start to finish. We aren’t afraid to follow our dreams and not everybody is dreaming of the white picket fence any more. We have so many more options to live the life we want to live.
We grew up in a safe world. Our parents had jobs, a house. They worked long hours in often unsatisfying careers, waiting for the next promotion, the next raise and the ultimate goal of all: Retirement. «When we retire, we’ll go explore and travel!» is something parents of those days would say to each other, their eyes glancing over as they dreamed about the life they were going to live. One day… The economy was strong, the sky was the limit. The houses got bigger, the cars fancier. Always keeping up with the Joneses. And then the bubble burst. Our parents got fucked. Not only their dreams were shattered, but also their future and their 401k’s. Their dreams of traveling turned into a reality of working way past their retirement age. One day had turned into never.
I didn’t grow up in the US, but I was here in the financial meltdown in 2007 and the depression that followed. I saw this happening to the families of friends and people I knew. It wasn’t that they had thrown money out the window for petty stuff. They bought houses, made their payments, saved for retirement, did all the things you were supposed to do and still ended up with nothing. How can we, as the following generation not be influenced by that? It taught us that you can be responsible and do the right thing and “the big guys” will still win and you lose. This doesn’t mean that we don’t believe in preparing for the future, but we tend to live a bit more in the present than working for a future that we might never have.
Working for Our Own Benefit
Another thing that is important to many of us Millennials is that we choose work that benefits us and the communities we live in, rather than large corporations. We choose to work in small Mom and Pop shops and follow our passion rather than the big chain store down the street, even if it means we earn less per hour. We shop and support the small stores, even if they are a bit more expensive. We believe that people are more important than corporations. Instead of enriching the ones at the top, we work to share the pie so everyone gets a piece.
Living a Life that Matters to Us
The Entitlement debate isn’t about asking for free stuff. It is about asking for stuff that matters to us. Like a vacation and time off to spend with loved ones, have fun with friends and go roam the world. It is about living life to its fullest and not waking up at 40 and asking yourself what the fuck happened. It is about living the life you want while you live it, not to emerge from a life of misery when you retire (hopefully). We choose the things that make us happy, not our family and neighbors, and pursuing those ideas with everything we have.
Are we entitled to a vacation? Yes, we are, because we make it our priority. We move in with our parents to save up money. Not for a down payment on a house, but to pay back student loans and then save up a little to go travel the world. Instead of taking pride of becoming a homeowner, we take pride in our passport stamps and the memories we have collected. We tend to choose personal goals over career goals.
Are Millennials Less Driven?
Does that make us any less driven? No, not all. Millennials choose jobs that allow them a flexible or remote work schedule over a high paying and prestigious career. We negotiate for more paid time off, rather than a raise. We don’t put up with our boss calling and emailing us during our vacation and rightfully complain about behavior like that. We strive for flexibility and individuality rather than a cookie cutter same size fits all life. Millennials are hard workers, but only if it is for a cause or company that they believe in and not for the sake of creating profits for CEOs and shareholders and for the sake of adding titles to they resumes. Is it still entitlement, when we sacrifice other things for our vacation or the other things that are important to us?
A lot of Millennials are asked when they will start their real life. When will we settle down, start our career, buy a house, get married, have children. That sort of thing. As if our life traveling or volunteering for that non-profit isn’t real life. Don’t get me wrong, the picket fence dream is still alive and kicking, but it isn’t the only way to live life anymore. And I feel this is what entitlement is about. It is about giving us the choice to live the life we dream of and not deeming us failures, just because we don’t measure up in ’’your’’ scale of success. Whatever that might be. We have our own scale of success and that one is working quite well for us, thank you very much.
What are your thoughts on this? Are we entitled to a vacation?
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Quotes source: Ryan Jenkins
Everyone is entitled to a vacation in my book!
Fortunately, you’ve grown up in a time when travel is more affordable than ever before.
Combine that with the internet and voila.
So emerges the mobile, connected anywhere, worker.
I agree with you, Chris! I work remotely and can do my job from anywhere. I just wish the same were true for the husband!
I actually despise the term or concept of entitlement. It sounds so self-serving to me. Don’t get me wrong. I live every day as though it may be my last. Because my mother died at a young age and I don’t know how long I’ll be lucky enough to live.
I believe in living life to the fullest. Not because I am entitled to it or anything, but because I don’t believe in living/saving for the future. I believe in living each day to the tilt. But I earned it thru hard work. You Millennials don’t know how lucky you are to have parents who allow you to live in their hard-earned homes so that you can pursue your passions while they work hard to pay the mortgage.
Hi Doreen, I hear your sentiment and I can understand your point of view.
We are indeed a very lucky generation, but a lot of people seem to only think of Millennials as spoilt brats. Yet we work equally hard, just maybe not for the same goals or dream. Then in return, we are seen as unsuccessful, because we haven’t achieved the same as our parents have achieved by xx age when we weren’t even trying to achieve that certain milestone.
Also, living with parents can be a win-win for both parties, as the kids can still pay rent and help pay the mortgage, just maybe not as much as if living on their own. I also think this is a very American thing to send the kids out on their own at a rather young age. In most other countries and culture, people stay at home much longer, save up money and have a solid financial foundation before they venture out on their own. I have a lot of friends in Germany that have never moved out from their parents’ house, but rather have their own space within their childhood home.
I guess it is all a matter of perspective, culture and personal experience how you feel abou this. Thank you for sharing your side of the coin!
As a millennial, I have certainly felt many of these things. But as an older millennial, now in my 30s, I also find myself valuing fiscal responsibility- staying debt free, not being a weight on my parents, being ready to support them if I need too, etc. I’ve been very fortunate to have jobs that have paid for my travel for the past decade, so it’s the best of both worlds. And I still want a house and the more traditional things, so I guess I want to have it all – which could also be called a form of entitlement.
Haha, I want it all too. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I am also in my early 30s and value fiscal responsibility. Most travelers I know saved up money BEFORE they went on their trip, so I find that very fiscally responsible. I just feel that our generation tends to live a bit more in the NOW rather than the LATER as older generations tend to.
I really love this post! It’s so honest and true for SO many people. Success means more than having a house or working your way up in a set career. I think as Millennials, we define success as a personal thing. Only something that we can decide for ourselves. It looks different for everyone, and that’s a hard thing for generations before us to understand. I can totally relate to this!
Thank you for your comment, Erin. I am glad you could relate. Yes, I think it is hard for the older generations to understand that there are so many options now to “design your life” rather than just do what everyone else is doing.
I think that there is always a trade off, you win some and you lose some. At the end of the day, what matters is have you enjoyed your life and have minimum regrets.
Everyone is entitled to a vacation, short break, long break or even just a coffee break once in a while. We are indeed living in the generation that freedom took up the next level to what we are entitled to. After all, what’s important is we are happy without hurting anyone intentionally.
I think everyone is entitled to a vacation. Definitely, millennials as a group are growing up in a different world and some are choosing a less traditional path than “what has always been”. I think every generation goes through something like this though. Whatever the age, I think people should try and see / experience more of the world. The more we know about each other, I think the less prejudices we are going to have in this world.
Everybody definitely is entitled to a vacation. It could be an international vacation or just a short trip break to a different city I think everybody does need a vacation every once in a while to perform better at everything.
I believe everyone is entitled to a vacation. So one must take some time from his work and go for vacation with his family/friends or girlfriend if you have any. Thanks for the article. I really like your writing style.