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