September 17, 2013

Alternative Advice for Lucy

Maybe you've read the viral blog post of the moment, Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy. It makes some moderately perceptive observations about Generation Y, a generation of which I may or may not be a part. (I personally think the cut-off is whether or not you were still in college or younger when Facebook was only for college kids.)

I don't have any bones to pick with most of the post. It's a little bit cynical, a little bit snarky, but whatever. It's the Internet. At the end, though, the author gives Lucy - his everywoman stand in for unhappy Generation Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies - some advice. And I personally think it is terrible advice. Like, I was waiting for the punch line where he would come in and say, "Ha ha, just kidding. Opposite day!"

His advice?

1) Stay wildly ambitious. The current world is bubbling with opportunity for an ambitious person to find flowery, fulfilling success. The specific direction may be unclear, but it'll work itself out -- just dive in somewhere.
 2) Stop thinking that you're special. The fact is, right now, you're not special. You're another completely inexperienced young person who doesn't have all that much to offer yet. You can become special by working really hard for a long time.
 3) Ignore everyone else. Other people's grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today's image crafting world, other people's grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you'll never have any reason to envy others.

This is my advice for Lucy and her contemporaries:

1. Ambition can be seriously overrated. Consider the possibility of seeking enough, and leaving the flowery, fulfilling success to other people. Other people who will be far more tired than you. (For more on this, see Tsh Oxenreider's lovely Monday Benediction from this week.)

2. You may not be special, but you are beloved. Everyone can't be special if special is being defined as essentially "better than everyone else." But each and every single Lucy is a beloved child of God. You have an inherent worth that has nothing to do with your experience, talent, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, student debt, and so on. You do not earn God's love, and neither can you lose it. Once you realize you do not have to strive to be accepted, wow. That really opens up a lot of energy.

3. Pay attention to the people in your life. Not in a icky competitive way, but in a love-your-neighbor-as-yourself kind of way. Don't check out your neighbor's grass to see if it's greener than yours; see if there is any way you can be of service. Maybe your elderly neighbor could really use his grass mowed, you know? And you could be the one to offer. Help celebrate your friends' successes, and help grieve their losses. You'll never have any reason to envy others because you'll be too busy loving them.

(As with all my best advice, I'm giving it to myself first. Of course.)

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