Good Mythical Mayhem | Debunking Falsehoods about Youth and Young Adults
by Alex Hardt, Associate Pastor to Youth and Young Adults
“Young Adults are Lazy and full of Apathy”
“Generation Z is all about Selfies, themselves, and being Self Absorbed ”
“Emerging Adults have no motivation, no purpose, they lack the drive”
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.-
1 Timothy 4:12
THEY ARE LAZY
Perhaps the most common slander on today’s emerging adults is that they’re “slackers.” Many people believe that 20-somethings avoid work whenever possible, preferring to leech off their parents for as long as they can get away with it like some sort of blood sucking parasite. The belief is that young adults have an inflated sense of entitlement (fa sho) and that they expect work to be fun — and if work isn’t fun, they don’t want to do it #lamejob. Party!
Perhaps young people have an unrealistic expectation for work, but lazy? No. If you look around at who is serving you at Starbucks, or Dutch brothers (so much better 😉), or ringing you up at Target, stocking the shelves at Safeway… It’s emerging adults. Many of them are doing double duty by working and going to school at the same time, trying to survive while chipping away at their student debt, the highest in history (According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, outstanding student loan debt in the United States lies between $902 billion and $1 trillion with around $864 billion in Federal student loan debt. As of Quarter 1 in 2012, the average student loan balance for all age groups is $24,301). It’s false and unfair to tar the many hardworking emerging adults with a stereotype that is true for only a small percentage of them just like it’s true for only a small percentage of adults.
I hear this over and over with regards to emerging adults and young adults. With this stereotype, too, there is a small grain of truth that has been inflated into a large falsehood. I would probably agree that most emerging adults today grow up with a high level of self-esteem, higher than in previous generations. After all, from the time they were born, their boomer parents have been telling them, “You’re the best!” “The sky is the limit” and “Be whatever you want to be”. So why are we surprised that emerging adults took those messages to heart. By the time they get to emerging adulthood they do believe they’re special, and nearly all of them are confident that they will be able to get what they want out of life. As young people get closer to adulthood their bubble is popped multiple times by love, work, and reality. The economy isn’t what was promised, the opportunities aren’t there, their perspectives are limited, and the outlook on life isn’t what they were told. High self-esteem is what allows young people to get up again and continue moving forward. (55 percent of youth ages 12 to 18 – participate in volunteer activities; the teen volunteering rate is nearly twice the adult volunteering rate of 29 percent. – According to nationalservice.gov)
For emerging adults and young adults with anxiety, millennials dealing with self-doubt, and the slackers who seem to lack motivation; there is one mantra they all share: “If I choose to fail and do… then I win”! The critiques, judgements, and stereotypes have resonated unfortunately well with them. Here’s the good news: They really do want to win. They just don’t have a single clue on how to do it.
What is odd is that when you get past all the negative situations, stereotypes, or judgements emerging adults have been through and really talk and listen to them, they really want to succeed but they just don’t have a clue how to do that, so they channel all of their desires into self-sabotage. This goes on for so long that it is almost impossible for them to remember that this was a coping mechanism and not their true nature. Given the opportunity, most people really will choose to succeed.
Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17
We have developed a generational divide and perhaps we need to rethink how we can grow with instead of against one another.
- Give opportunity and bring challenge to emerging adults.
- Help them to recognize the potential that is within them by elevating your expectations of them.
- Walk with them, mentor them, and invest in them. They need those who have already experienced life to model for them, resource them, and develop within them the tools necessary to succeed.
More ideas at these Blogs