Talking About My Generation

Travesty by Travis Williamson

Growing up with people my own age, I feel like mostly everyone I know, while each unique in his own right, really seems to rise from one of two different backgrounds. The first of these I refer to as the “Stranger Danger” group.

The “Stranger Danger” kids are the ones that grew up in an environment that was very “real world” and that they could take at face value. I find that the children that have been raised under this banner received very little ‘BS’ as kids. I’ve named this group “Stranger Danger” because they grew up being told by their parents that they just couldn’t go play outside without being supervised, because the world is a dangerous place. That there are people in the world who take kids away from home, people that will try to hurt them, even some people who will try to kill them. The world is a sick place, get used to it and stay safe. You don’t always win; you don’t come in first every time.

I’ve dubbed the second group, “Bubble-Wrapped.” These are the kids that grew up with a very pleasant, although skewed, view of the world. These are the kids whose parents wouldn’t keep score at the little league games because there shouldn’t be any winners, because having winners would mean there also has to be losers. They can’t receive a failing grade in school, because that would hurt their self-confidence, and they certainly cannot be graded in red pen. (It’s too harsh!) Those that have been “Bubble-Wrapped” have had things sugar-coated for them almost their entire lives.
Now, I mean to say that there are of course many kids who fall in between these two groups. Also, these two groupings apply most obviously to younger children, and this article is about people my age. So what happens to these kids when they grow up?

From my observations, when these children become young adults and start high school, and gain more responsibilities; the former group usually does better. The “Stranger Danger” kids seem, generally speaking, to be more wary of the world and they have more realistic expectations about who people really are. This group seems to better understand that, in general, people really disappoint you. They respond better to negative situations and increasing workloads, and they seem to have more success in finding their first jobs. However, this group can often be too rough, sometimes sharing too much information or pessimistic.

The second group typically finds less success than the first. Some “Bubble-Wrapped” people have trouble adjusting to all the red ink and the people who really do not seem to care about their feelings.

I understand the mentality behind sugar-coating things for your children. As an adult you know what kind of place the world is and as a parent you want it to be a better place than it is for your kid.

However, I feel like sheltering your kids hurts them more than it is going to help. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a lie, but if you convince a child that there are no winners and no losers, and that you can’t fail as long as you try your best, then they’re never going to be able to function successfully in a world where people DO lose, and failure happens. I would like to cite "Dumbing Down Our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes. Mr. Sykes lays out 11 rules of life directed toward people my age:

1. Life is not fair - get used to it.
2. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world
will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel
good about yourself.
3. You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out
of high school. You won't be a vice president with a
car and phone until you earn both.
4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a
boss. He doesn't have tenure.
5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it, “opportunity.”
6. If you mess up, it’s not your parents' fault, so don't
whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as
they are now. They got that way from paying your bills,
cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about
how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest
from the parasites of your parent's generation, try
delousing the closet in your own room
8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
10. Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Actually, this list says a lot about personal responsibility. I feel that if every person my age would take a little bit more responsibility for his actions, then we can truly leave the world a better place for our children, like our parents are trying to do for us. Teenagers today seem to be very trend-oriented. Well, this is a special country we live in, where each generation has left things better than they found them. That is the trend I would like to continue.

“This is the only country in the world where today's employee, is tomorrow's employer.”-Marco Rubio

Before anyone comments, let me put a disclaimer out there right now: I know I cannot possibly hope to categorize every single person that falls into my generational bracket. I also am not telling anyone how they should be raising their children; I don’t have that kind of audacity. This is simply my own opinion and observations.

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