Give it to me I’m worth it…. These words repeat in our heads as we shop the sale racks at Old Navy.
Give it to me I’m worth it...The anthem rings as we fill our grocery cart with ramen.
Give it to me I’m worth it…. We say to ourselves as we get credit card offers after credit card offers with rates that will surely ruin us.
Give it to me I’m worth it… We spend our free time watching beauty gurus making money off our insecurities.
Give it to me I’m worth it... Without our parents, we’d have to choose between loan repayment and rent.
Give it to me I’m worth it… As we work in the service industry while our degrees are for corporate careers.
Give it to me I’m worth it...As we pay our dues (debts) while we pay our dues (being young in the workforce) while we pay our dues (poverty) for paying our dues (debt).
Give it to me I’m worth it… We finally get a 401(k) and pay all our money into it, just to know that we’ll never get it back.
Give it to me I’m worth it... All day we see social media influencers, beautiful, fit, rich not knowing all the filters and fillers and assistants it took to produce that image.
Give it to me I’m worth it... We have 500+ connections on LinkedIn but no one to hang out with on Saturday night.
Give it to me I’m worth it...We are the generation that is most aware of the necessity of therapy and least capable of affording it.
I know I lost half on you in the midst of the above. It’s easy to say Millennials and Gen X are whiny and lazy. Yesterday I worked 15 hours on a Saturday. Most of my peers work incredibly hard and still can’t afford the lives that their parents and grandparents lead.
There is an immense amount of stress and pressure being a teenager or young adult right now. We were raised under the impression that if you work hard, get good grades, and make good choices, you will earn a certain amount of success and sustainability. But somewhere in the last decade the rules changed.
Now, it is not enough to work hard. You have to work harder than everyone around you. You can’t just go to college and get a job. You need at least a Master's to do most “9:00-5:00’s.”
You can’t work during college to cover the cost of tuition. Even with scholarships, grants, etc., you’re still going to come out with more debt than the annual salary of someone who will be your manager.
Aside from economical examples, this generation faces tremendous pressure to be beautiful by society’s standards. Parents of teenage girls, I would encourage you one time to just scroll through your daughter’s Instagram timeline. Notice the amount of weight loss products, makeup, acne treatments, and even plastic surgeries advertised to her between pictures of her friends and celebrities she follows. Notice the celebrities she follows are also pushing these products.
Everywhere around them, youth are being told, “You’re not good enough, but this product will help you.” Unrealistic goals are set for them in all areas of their lives, and when they cannot reach these goals, they end up feeling worthless. Our society creates a tangible measurement of worth through followers, likes, retweets, shares. Never before have humans been constantly evaluated in front of their peers in such a public facing way.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution to this problem. What I can say is, parents be patient with your children. You don’t understand the pressures they face in this world because you didn’t have to grow up in it. Kids, try to separate these pressures from your self-worth. If you are chasing society’s conception of perfection, you will never be happy. You have to find ways to see the worth that does already exist inside you. And to both parties, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Seek advice, learn, grow, change, be understanding and compassionate, and if you ever feel worthless and helpless, talk to someone about it. It takes support to combat feelings of worthlessness. Lean on those in your life to build you up and remind you that you are worth it.