If You Feel Guilty And You Know It, Raise Your Hand!

2010 June 25

Hate To Break It To You is a recurring feature wherein we dispense succinct home truths that everyone could benefit from facing up to, unpleasant as they may be.

Photo by metal1944

For all of our big talk about doing things on our own terms, defining and measuring our success by benchmarks other than the traditional, being less consumptive and more self-actualizing, Gen Y is remarkably puritanical when it comes enjoying the here and now sans guilt. We’ve got a punitive streak a mile wide and ain’t no one gonna convince me otherwise. If we haven’t made it yet, we don’t deserve to enjoy what we do have until we have made it, or so the thinking goes. Not only do we not have/make time to savor our current good fortune (nothing new, that’s been the MO of every 20th-century generation), but we don’t feel as if we even have the right to do so until we have more to show for our effort. The better to fall even more hopelessly behind others who eschew stopping and smelling the roses, my dear. All of the location independent, lifestyle-designing, nomadic cheerleading in the world isn’t worth jack until and unless it addresses the ghost of the Protestant work ethic that haunts us and influences our evaluation of self-worth. End of story.

In our heart of hearts, many of us still believe that there’s something self indulgent, cavalier or heedless about taking time to enjoy the ride. Forget having a scavenger hunt in the park, or skipping town for a few days to visit family or live it up in NYC or even indulging in a weekly fancy-pants triple mocha, we should be blogging, networking, job hunting, overtiming, penny pinching, etc. Who are we to enjoy what we haven’t earned through sacrifice and character-building deprivation?

But what if it takes us the next five years or ten years or a lifetime to feel as if we’ve “earned” our “success”? Talk about taking the long way around.  What exactly are we supposed to do in the interim? Live in austerity? Castigate ourselves with parochial guilt every time we take a time out for self-directed dilettantism? Gen Y talking heads claim that our cohort is all about the journey and not the destination, but how many folks are genuinely enjoying the trip?

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Related GenMeh goodness:

Helping Yourself To Self Help
The Truth of C'est La Vie
Hey, Big Spender: Why Talk Is Cheap