Gen Z: A generation that sets healthy boundaries — and gets pilloried for it
I was born in 1999. Today I’m 24 years old and according to generation theory I’m one of the well-known Gen Z And because I saw the light of day in the middle of this period of time, it seems to me that the same things are becoming the same for me and for other young people who are born at this time criticisms be thrown on the head: Idleness, bad work ethic, effeminate. We would be far too digital, would have no idea of real life in the real world of work and would be too squeamish in general. According to older generations, the generation born between 1995 and 2009 often does not know what hard work really looks like, how well off they actually are, and what is more, they are ungrateful – but what have we done to have to listen to this over and over again? Of course, nobody in this world is perfect and does everything right. In my eyes, however, my generation, Gen Z, understood a point where many others failed: I am the number one priority in my life.
Gen Z: Lazy, squeamish and ungrateful – is that really true?
“Young people don’t know how to work really hard. They give up as soon as it gets difficult and become effeminate” – I have heard statements like these (admittedly, mostly from other, older generations) more than once. The fact that younger people do not allow themselves to be exploited in the labor market, prioritize their mental and physical health, their work-life balance and are no longer willing to sacrifice their well-being to climb to the top of any career ladder is viewed as a designed for weakness. But aren’t these just other values that are important to me and my generation?
Admittedly, the world used to look a little different. The way specific issues such as mental health were dealt with was highly problematic. Only in recent years has this aspect received the attention it deserves. The problem with this is that we are still a long way from where we need to be. For many, psychological complaints such as depressive moods or burnout are still invented little ailments to be able to pull themselves out of work. After all, you can’t see these symptoms, so for some employers, family members and older generations they simply don’t exist.
The basic problem is very simple: over time we have learned to set our priorities differently. Instead of future promotions, careers, big money and huge houses, young people are increasingly working towards personal fulfillment, free development and individuality in the present; even if this sometimes upsets employers and decision-makers in companies. And yes, the work ethic has also changed as a result of this circumstance – for the better. We no longer allow ourselves to be exploited just to get a chance at a higher position in a company that doesn’t make us happy anyway. The job is increasingly becoming a means to an end. We don’t live to work, we work to live.
Gen Z: A generation that stands up for itself
Gen Z is condemned for not having and striving for the same notion of personal success and values as all previous generations – but why shouldn’t that change in the first place? In fact, we should all be happy that future generations have a deep understanding of what they want and don’t want. Where their personal limits lie, what values they value and what they do not want to sacrifice.
Gen Z stand up for themselves and are not just willing to give in to the normative notions of a “happy” life. The magic word is individuality. Everyone has to find out for themselves what brings them happiness and inner peace. For this purpose, old structures, gender roles and stubborn prejudices are being broken up – which has been necessary for a very long time. Conforming to the societal norm and just going with the flow, only to find you’re unhappy with your life, isn’t an idea that sounds attractive to Gen Z. That doesn’t mean, of course, that they’ve eaten wisdom with spoons and know everything better. It just means they’re one step closer to knowing what fulfillment and happiness really means to them.
Gen Z: When will the criticism end?
In a way, every generation felt the same way. It continued to develop and thus split away from the thinking and values of its pioneers – to the chagrin of the previous generation. Every step is observed with a critical eye and often ridiculed. But that’s the way of progressive thinking, I guess. Not everyone is a fan of advancement. And as is the case now, everyone is always convinced that they know better than the “naïve, young” people.
So is there really an end to the criticism in sight in the future? I do not think so. I’m starting to believe that criticism of a younger generation that is growing up will simply always be a part of our society. And who knows? Maybe sometime in the future it will be Gen Z who will get upset about Generation Alpha and their ideas about careers and blame them for everything.