I’m technically a Gen Y, also known as the Millennials, Generation 9/11, Generation Me or the New Boomers. And with that, there comes a whole raft of stereotypes. I am stubborn and struggle with authority. I want to travel the world and believe I can change it. I’m civic-minded yet narcissistic. I’m immune to marketing bullshit. I’m tech savvy, opinionated and a self-absorbed rebel. I lack fear and love failing. I grew up with it all, I’ve seen it all and dare I say, I know it all.
In other words, there should be a statue raised on my behalf. It’s written in my damn Millennial’s dna! But here’s the depressing reality: I’m not many of those things, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be. Gen Y clichés are as bad as Colombian clichés. Yes, I’m Colombian and no, I’m not a mule. I am but a big generalisation.
There is a big debate, yet no specific dates of when Gen Y starts and ends, but for the purpose of this rant, let’s go by Strauss and Howe’s definition of Millennials. 1980–1994. That’s a pretty large bucket. I‘m not the same as a kid born in the 90's. That poor kid never had a walkman and most certainly never played Snake on a Nokia 3310 — essential things from my childhood. He was too young to appreciate all the tech beauties that the 90's had to offer. But let’s whack him with the same ‘Millenials’ label. Who cares? Well actually, I do. Not all Millenials are truly native to the digital world. The kid from the 90’s probably is, but I also come from the land of the analog. I’m a digital immigrant.
The late Gen X (70's) had time to forge their career without a digital mindset. There was no fear on what would then become the base of our society. The later Gen Y (that kid) embraced it. But I was somehow caught in the middle. I‘m part of a generation that was a couple of years too old and a couple of years too young. The Inbetweeners. Generation 404.
This translates to what I’ve become now – restless and lost. I wish I had the ambition and patience of some of our predecessors: the tenacity of Larry Page and Sergei Brin (1973); the courage of Jack Dorsey (1976); the audacity of Chad Hurley (1977); the nerve (and looks) of Sean Parker (1979). All late Gen X, and all shamelessly successful. Their generation didn’t expect anything of them. They are the unicorns of Gen X.
I look with skepticism and a bit of jealousy at those that like me, are Gen Y’s, but unlike me, made it in life: The Zuckerbergs; the Cheskys; The Karps. They must’ve known something that I didn’t. Sure, they had a bit of help from life, right? So unless I studied in Harvard, belonged to Alpha Epsilon Pi, and had a nice big garage and awesome parents that didn’t mind me using it, then I had no chance. Seriously.
But ultimately those guys are a daily reminder that I expected more from myself, and I failed. ‘It’s easy to get crushed by the weight of expectation’ says Andy Wright. And he’s right. Thats exactly what happened to me. A lonesome soul of generation 404. The generation that can’t be found. The generation that seems to be broken. The naive, the foolish, the hopeful. The ones that didn’t succeed, just like me.