I recently heard someone accuse my generation of giving up too easily. Abandoning responsibilities on a whim. Flittering from place to place without commitment. In a word, we are “flakey.” I agree, some people take this trait to the extreme, giving a bad name to our entire generation. This sucks, because when done right, giving up and moving on can actually be a great act of courage.
I can’t help but think of so many people in my life that come from older generations who have lived a life full of regrets. So many women who stayed with abusive husbands only for the sake of saving face in a society that looked down on un-wed mothers. Men who didn’t take chances and chase their dreams because following in their father’s footsteps was expected of them. Broken stories colored in the hue of, “Could’a, would’a, should’a.” Broken stories from a life lived in an attempt to satisfy others or to maintain an image.
This has trickled down into my generation as well with the expectancy of earning a college degree. Parents, as well as society, force teenagers into a corner, pushing them to commit to deciding now about what they will do with the rest of their lives. Sure, many of my peers knew from an early age exactly what they wanted to study, what their dreams and passions were, what they would be when they grew up. They studied, worked hard and accomplished their goals. Great! But, how many people do you know that picked a path, only because suddenly the time came to choose a college or declare a major? And, how many of those people are now working a job that they hate (or, don’t love, which is equally as bad) just to pay off the mountain of debt that student loans has left them buried under? What a trap.
Entrepreneur, author, and all around kick-ass guy, James Altucher has a book called Choose Yourself and I highly recommend it (at the very least you should check out his blog). His philosophy is all about making the best decisions for YOU. What a rare and wonderful concept! He never says it will be easy and he certainly does not condone flakey, laziness. With personal experience, he shows just how courageous, difficult, and rewarding it can really be to give up, to say “no,” and to move on from whatever isn’t serving you in your life.
Many people view quitting as the easy way out. But, be it a job, school, relationship, or anything, quitting is scary, and almost never easy. Humans seek comfort, and walking away from something you know, something that your family, society, or even your own inner voice tells you is the safe option, is hard as hell. You know what I find even more scary? Living a life to satisfy everyone else’s expectations. Living a life where the scales tip and breakdown from an overload of regret, debt and unrealized joy. I would much rather dive into the freedom of the unknown, where opportunities rise up to meet you at the intersection of hard work and happiness.
The next time I, or my generation, is accused of being flakey, I will smile, nod, and take their close-minded comment as a compliment. I will gladly leave the small opinions of others at the door as I step out and chase joy in an ongoing pursuit of a life where I choose myself. Because, you only YOLO once.