Mil­len­ni­als un­pre­pared for life’s chal­lenges due to lack of hard­ships

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Opinion - STEVE HANSEN Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

They’d been go­ing to­gether for al­most seven years.

She’s a suc­cess­ful 28-year-old at­tor­ney from a wealthy Marin fam­ily. He’s a mid-30s bril­liant math­e­ma­ti­cian, who loves mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing, snow ski­ing and var­i­ous other sports.

But some­thing went wrong. Last week, “Jes­sica" and I’ll call him “Dy­lan," broke up their re­la­tion­ship. She ini­ti­ated the split with a num­ber of ex­cuses that at first, didn’t make much sense.

“It’s your hair,” she com­plained. “You look like a mad pro­fes­sor. You’ve never styled it.”

“I didn’t know you ob­jected to that. I’ll change it,” he pleaded.

“It’s also your clothes and your car. You dress like you don’t care, and that old primered Toy­ota truck you drive just doesn’t cut it — es­pe­cially when you can af­ford much bet­ter.”

“I’m shocked.” Dy­lan replied. “I had no idea that you…”

“OK, I’ll get to the point,” said Jes­sica. “You’ve never grown up. You’ve had op­por­tu­ni­ties for great ca­reers and you’ve just thrown them all away. I can’t waste my time with you any­more.”

That last line must have stung Dy­lan like a clus­ter of an­gry hor­nets!

So what went wrong with this mil­len­nial cou­ple? I’m afraid their story is not unique. Dy­lan’s best friend, who is 10 years older, saw the hand­writ­ing on the wall many months ear­lier.

“You should marry that girl,” he told Dy­lan. “She’s beau­ti­ful, bril­liant, suc­cess­ful, kind, fun-lov­ing and comes from a won­der­ful fam­ily. What are you wait­ing for?”

“We mil­len­ni­als don’t get mar­ried,” was Dy­lan’s curt re­ply.

But now he’s pay­ing the price for his self­ish naivety, and he seems quite up­set over the breakup.

There are a num­ber of is­sues that prob­a­bly led to this un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion. Many in Dy­lan’s gen­er­a­tion and per­haps Gen­er­a­tion Xers, have never re­ally suf­fered, nor have they ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand, the suf­fer­ing of oth­ers. There was no mil­i­tary draft hang­ing over their heads, no wars to fight (un­less they vol­un­teered), and no econ­omy com­pa­ra­ble to that of the Great De­pres­sion.

They’ve grown up in a time when nar­cis­sism is “in” and in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion is de­manded. Fo­cus on one’s self and new dig­i­tal toys are the goals rather than ser­vice to­ward oth­ers.

The fact that Dy­lan is in the top 1 per­cent of in­tel­li­gence quo­tients has most likely cre­ated a sense of ar­ro­gance. Of course, he has all the an­swers to life. Peo­ple should come to him and wor­ship at his throne. Life is just a se­ries of self-ag­gran­diz­ing events and noth­ing more.

Peo­ple his age don’t seem to have a grasp of history ei­ther. They don’t un­der­stand present or fu­ture pol­i­tics based on hard lessons from the past.

An­other is­sue ap­pears to be a re­sult of the dig­i­tal age. Dy­lan’s faceto-face com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills are prob­a­bly lack­ing. Some young peo­ple to­day even text at the din­ner ta­ble rather than en­gage in di­rect con­ver­sa­tion with oth­ers.

He has spent his money on friv­o­lous self-en­ter­tain­ment and jumped from one job to an­other. You see, Dy­lan’s var­i­ous em­ploy­ment po­si­tions have never been quite “right,” and of course, it’s never his fault.

Ap­proach­ing his fourth decade of life, Dy­lan has no ca­reer to speak of, and no money in the bank.

It’s no won­der Jes­sica gave up on him, as she has taken as­sertive con­trol of her own destiny. She ex­pects oth­ers in her in­ti­mate cir­cle to do the same. Af­ter sev­eral years, the at­trac­tive at­tor­ney must have re­al­ized that bril­liance in some­one is no as­set if it re­mains undis­ci­plined and without di­rec­tion.

So hope­fully, this is Dy­lan’s wakeup call. Now he is truly suf­fer­ing, and per­haps it’s for the first time in his life.

If he can grow from the ex­pe­ri­ence and re­al­ize that joy in life comes from treat­ing oth­ers with gen­uine in­ter­est, love and re­spect, while treat­ing him­self in the same man­ner, per­haps his breakup will be the best thing that ever hap­pened.

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