The Downfall of our Generation

It was Sunday and mum was at the hair salon she she asked me to stay home to entertain my brother. We watched How to Train your Dragon, played indoor soccer, and modelled some planes with Lego pieces in his overflowing tub. Despite the agonising pain these little plastic pieces cause me every time I step on them, I told him that I would take him to the shopping centre to buy another box of Denmark delights.

We arrived at the store and he stood in front of a massive wall of themed-Lego boxes — airports, police stations, carnivals, pirate ships… I can’t possibly name them all. He studied every box in detail — and describes to me each one fully before putting it back on the shelf, keeping it there for his consideration.

I then asked him which one he wanted but he wasn’t able to make up his mind. I quickly learnt two things:

  1. If I ever wanted to torture my brother, I’d just have to take him to a toy store and let him choose only one item.
  2. This is a perfect metaphor for our generation.

My brother isn’t alone in his agony. I am constantly hitting forks in the road where I have to choose between two or more options in life.

Should I continue with my studies or should I find something else that intrigues me a bit more? Should I continue with the current job I have or should I start something for myself? Should I stay here or should I move to another country and start fresh?

I know I might be speaking for only a minority, but I think that our generation is incredibly lucky. We are lucky because our parents and our grandparents have worked incredibly hard for the younger generations to have a better life.

My grandfather organised for my father to migrate to Australia, away from the Vietnam War. You can imagine a young boy being put on a boat with many others with one main objective in mind: to build a better future. Not just for themselves but also their children and grandchildren. He came to a foreign environment, not knowing the language and having to survive. It didn’t matter what he had to do for work. He had no choice. He had to survive. He had to work to survive.

Contrast that with our generation and the people whose previous generations also had the same experience. We have too many choices. I mentioned above that our generation is incredibly lucky. However, I think that because we have too many options, we are constantly torn between them. This makes us incredibly unfortunate as well. From discussions with my peers, I feel that we no longer view work in the same way as our parents or our grandparents. We don’t see work as something we need to do to survive. The previous generation has created a safety net for us to fall, if we do fall. We are free to create, to explore, and to experiment to our hearts’ content. Unlike the previous generations, we don’t work survive. We yearn to work on something purposeful and something that makes us feel alive. Self-fulfilment and purpose is our desire.

So if our established end goal is to self-fulfilment, then what is the problem? For me, while the aforementioned end goal is clear, in my mind I haven’t been able to carve a clear path way as to how I am going to reach it. There are too many paths laid out before me. Some easy, some treacherous. Some cut corners, some take the scenic route. For each path, I wrestle with internal and external perceptions as well. I shared this perspective with one of my friend’s mother. She told me something very simple. First, you need to understand yourself, know what you want, what monsters to avoid, and the rest will follow. As with anything, it is easier said than done.

Choices: Previous generations lacked it. This generation is full of it.

If only, like my brother, my dilemma was the correct choice of Lego.