As a Millennial living in Australia, I think we are a very fortunate generation.
My grandparents grew up during World War 2 and the civil war in China, and my parents grew up during the dire period of Culture Revolution. One aspect in common between those periods of time in China is the scarcity of materials – food, clothing, shelter, etc.
The economy only picked up after years of post war development. When my parents reached adulthood, they were literally forced to leave home, and moved to work at the farms. That’s what happened to most people in my parents’ generation in China. As they described, the young generation felt they were not just materialistically deprived, but have utterly lost hope.
Luckily by the time I was born, China’s social system was rebuilt, and most urban families have earned all the basic living necessities so my generation never had to worry about them. After my family migrated to Australia, living conditions became even better, and I’m immensely grateful to have all the goods and opportunities made available to me.
If materialistic needs were the only desires in life, the Millennials would be the happiest generation ever. But reality is, we’re not. Ironic it may seem, the better we are materialistically, the more frustrated we seem to become. Below are my thoughts on why there seems to be more frustrations today for us Millennials.
1. Too many changes to keep up
The world changes fast, we all know that. But what we might not notice sometimes is the effect of these changes on our minds and emotions. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, we are creatures of habits. This means we love things and doing things that are familiar to us, which become part of our comfort zone. When something is changing, we effectively need to break off a habit and start a new one. Building a new habit takes time, and building it to a point where we can do it with our eyes closed takes lots and lots of effort and practice. In other words, we need to burn mental fuel every time we try to adapt to a new change. The bigger the change, the more fuel required. If this is only required a few times a year, we might not feel anything. But if a few times a month, the stress will kick in. And if we’re not adapting to changes properly, frustrations also come with facing issues and failure.
2. Doing too many things at once
More often than ever, and not just by our choice either, we seem to be doing a million things at once. This is part of the new norm in life that we have to adapt in order to keep up with everything that is going on around us. We have to put in extra effort to stand out in our jobs; we have to sacrifice spare time to do courses and keep up skilling ourselves; we have to forgo personal interest and hobbies to stay connected with our social networks… Simply put, time is just not enough anymore when we try to do everything that we have to do and want to do. As a result, we have to do many things at the same time, but allocate less time for each. This not only keeps us very busy all the time, but doing things with limited time creates more pressure and stress. When this happens, we might find that we’re not enjoying the things we want to do, and we’d hate the things we have to do, and that is very frustrating.
3. Wanting too many things
Can we maybe just try to do less things at once and be less frustrated? Theoretically yes, but realistically, very difficult. Our desires have expanded with the richness of the material world. The media is filled with content that draws our eyes and lures our hearts. It hard not to be tempted, and it’s easy to fall into marketing traps to believe that we need something more than we really do. In addition, remember all the heroic movies and comics we grew up with? If there is one thing the Millennials are ever good at, is never stop dreaming to be “the one” stepping in to save the world (as if there is really some sort of crisis besides our hyperactive ego). Thanks to modern technology, we are and we love being empowered to fulfill that childhood dream of ours. So we just keep wearing more hats, to try and be someone perhaps more than who we are born to be. When reality tells us that we actually can’t be anyone we want to be, and we can’t have everything we want to possess, life becomes frustrating.
4. Lack of resilience
Resilience is the mental stamina against adversity. Ironic enough, we dream to be the savior of a crisis, but because we haven’t actually lived through real crises such as the war, we don’t always withstand the test of resilience. When there is a choice available, our inner nature almost always chooses to go down the easier path. Resilience doesn’t grow this way. So at times when we face problems outside of our comfort zone, they may seem bigger than they really are. And we can easily become frustrated because there isn’t enough resilience to cope with the stress.
5. Lack of belief
Despite not having lived through physical crises like war, the real crisis for the Millennials today is perhaps the loss of belief. Belief is something that takes great time to build, weak to sustain and effortless to destroy. The world is full of voices these days, with everybody trying to express their opinion and exercising influence on other people. In such environment, truth is often obscured or distorted. Without sufficient experience to make our own judgment, we can feel confused, lost, and frustrated with all the different views and opinions around us.
Understanding why is first step to resolve the issue no matter what we’re frustrated at. Some issues are perhaps beyond our abilities to tackle, but nonetheless, how we deal with personal emotion is a choice and I strongly believe there is always a positive way to handle any frustration. The choices we make are what will help us to become happier and more positive.
What do you think are the reasons behind your biggest frustrations? Lets explore them together and help each other.