Aimee Patton

A pleasantly eccentric take on politics

Well, I am.  Sorry – just had to throw in the part that I am special.  That’s my narcissistic side coming out.  Have I mentioned this blog is all about me?  I think I would have done better being part of Gen Y instead of Gen X.  Wait, which one is more self centered? Our generation was the one who has been so bummed out by so much.  Maybe we haven’t had a World War like the Greatest Generation, but we have had:

  • The space shuttle blow up during math class
  • Sex turn deadly with HIV/AIDS
  • A war we watched on television

I could continue, but I don’t want to spend this whole blog post totally marinating in depressing events that have shaped Gen X. I think you all get my drift.

Anyhoo…making news on the talk show circuit was a commencement address given by David McCullough Jr. at Wellesley High School.  Mr. McCullough is an English teacher at the school (Mr. McCullough – I am SO sorry for all of the grammatical errors in this blog.  I continue to try to do better with my grammar, but I am fully aware that it SUCKS.)

What made this commencement speech different from all the rest was that it declared that this graduating class was not special.  Click here to read the entire speech.

Now, a big “hallelujah” seemed to go out nationwide.  Finally, someone said it.  That was the general feeling from Gen Xers and Baby Boomers that were calling into local radio shows.  I was listening to Darla Jaye on KMBZ and the she was going on about how ridiculous it is that kids play soccer without keeping score and this is part of the problem. This generation is too pampered.  I think you get my drift. (I did call in, but had to hang up when I needed to go into the grocery store – sorry Darla)

This is where I wish I had my own radio show, because typing my feelings on this wears out my fingers! (anyone giving out free radio shows, contact me please)  Just hold your horses America.  I just read the speech.  The speech was beautiful and the way I read it was everybody is special the same way nobody is special.  It was about creating and living a meaningful life.  It was far from a smack down interpretation that I keep hearing and reading about in the media.

Now if you read my blog regularly, you know I love irony.  Here is the irony in all of this.  There seems to be so much hostility towards a generation that we feel is pampered and entitled and here’s the deal folks:  we created them.  That’s right – we made the soccer leagues without the scores.  We gave all the kids trophies.  We told all of them they were “special” and “fantastic” (o.k. maybe not fantastic – does anyone say that anymore?). Maybe this hostility should be focused on ourselves.  Maybe it’s us that we should be so mad at.  We created this generation of kids that we feel aren’t adequately prepared to take on challenges that life brings them.  It’s not their fault that they can’t do anything without feeling the need to be praised.  We did all of the praising.  We set them up for a life full of disappointment when they find out that life isn’t full of trophies and rewards for every little thing.

Do I think soccer games for kids where they don’t keep scores is a big deal?  Nope.  Life generally sucks.  It gives us a daily dose of a kick in the ass.  If my kid can play a sport when she is young and just enjoy participating without being taught the cut throat competition of adult life quite yet, I’m good with that.  It’s up to me to teach her that just because you clean you room doesn’t mean that you get a reward.  That’s just part of living in the house.  Just because you do your homework doesn’t mean you get a doll.  That’s just part of your responsibility of going to school.  Now truth be told, I spoil the crap out of my kid.  I tell her all the time how special she is.  Will she grow up with the harsh reality of life kicking her butt all the time?  Absolutely, we all do.  Will she be a lesser person because I told her how great she is?  Not a chance.

Thank you Mr. McCullough for a moving speech.  It allowed me to take stock in my own life to this point.     

“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view.  Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”  David McCullough Jr. 

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One thought on ““You’re not special” can I get an “Amen”

  1. Hi, I absolutely agree with your post. I’m a Gen Y but I certainly never had anything handed to me. I started working when I was 14 and have ever since. In fact I’m 23 and I have continued my busy extra curricular activities while holding a full time job and getting my MBA. That being said, my parents ( a Gen X and a Baby Boomer) always told me I could achieve anything I put my mind to. I absolutely have that mind set now and I’m very successful because of them. I learned through childhood that I could make money a lot quicker by getting a job than by washing dishes or cleaning my room.

    However, I also have those friends that never worked a day in their life until the graduated college! I personally think that’s ridiculous. Those kids are the whiny, needy, throw tantrums if they don’t get what they want or make an “A” in the class kids. I guess you could say some parents knew how to balance the support system with a little tough love.

    Bottom line, everything trickles down or can be traced back to the parents of past generations. Gen Y grew up having almost everything in their hands within a couple of weeks if not days. This was a direct result from our parents wanting us to have a better life than they did when they were kids. We grew up having a support system, and constant feedback from anything we did. Grandparents and parents created our group.

    My concern is the future generation to come. I know Gen Y is just starting to fully enter the work place but think about how the next generation grew up. They grew up with parents that were most likely divorced before they were five. A lot of the next generation came into the world before there parents were even married. These kids that will come after Gen Y have almost been neglected caused by technology and reality shows. Parents these days are not very traditional. They don’t believe in spanking their kids for bad behavior. Instead they give them what they want so they won’t have to listen to them cry.

    Parents don’t have time for their children anymore and I personally see this as a problem in the work place and the world in general when the generation after us enters.

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