I was raised in that generation folks love to criticize. Alternately, I can be a millennial, a member of Generation Y, I even landed at the tail end of Gen X. I am, according to some (who I imagine would never level this accusation against me personally—just against all my contemporaries) lazy, entitled, clueless.
I don’t know if those words accurately describe my peers, but I do know that some of the way I was raised, the way I was guided through life as a child, has led to problems that, I could imagine, would manifest, ostensibly, as laziness and entitlement.
For example, I was told as a child to follow my passion. That if I found what I loved, and worked to make myself the best at that, success would naturally follow.
It was a paradigm we grew up with, along with gold stars and participation awards, that made us believe that success would come at all. That is, never could never be true for everyone. And even more, that we were predestined to acquire some vocation based on what was in our hearts.
It was an absurd conceit not of my generation, but of the generation that raised us, rebelling from a society that raised its children to follow in their parents’ footsteps. They likely also saw that many of those professions had been lost to industrialization, regulation and technology. The footsteps had been washed away by an ocean of time and progress.
But the thought persists in my mind, keeping me up at night, nagging at me as I face the drudgery of my day.
There are things I delight in. Seeing the people I love and care about. Eating good food. Building up a sweat from some physical activity. But there is some irrepressible unease, that I don’t know, even now in my 30s, what my passion is.
The more rational part of my brain tells me to accept this. That finding a passion is a wonderful and rewarding thing when it happens, but like being ambidextrous or six feet tall, it’s just a natural gift for some, just a genetic luck of the draw.
Before these generations that have seen so much societal change—smartphones, remote warfare, disposable everything—people worked to survive, and to keep their societies functioning.
I know that. It’s an understanding I try to bring to my work, to the choices I make, to the values I accrue.
But deep inside my mind, the idea that I don’t know my passion sits like a grain of sand in an oyster. It irritates, inflames, forces me to build opalescent layers over it to keep it from destroying me.
Maybe, someday, I’ll find my passion. Until then, I will carry on living my life, and cursing the generation that fed me these thoughts.