The Low Expectation Conundrum.

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hough the beliefs of the Greek gods have died out, their stories have not, the themes still penetrating culture today. The Greek poet may have not realized that the story of Narcissus would still be relevant thousands of years after the words were penned. Narcissistic, derived from the name Narcissus, is the world commonly associated with Generation Y, the Millennials. Last year, the “Me Me Me” generation was the cover story of Time magazine, though they were not the first group to comment on the generation’s selfish attitude.

Whether it be in the media, school, or workplace, commentary on their actions follow Millennials wherever they go. We are rebellious, self-absorbed, and show contempt to our elders. We lack all the quality attributes that make up a proper human being that include, but are not limited to the following:  responsibility, manners, respect, work ethic, empathy, etc.

Unfortunately, whatever the environment, the actions of a few define the attitude of the whole. While there are certainly several Millennials who warrant those remarks, there are several who don’t. As a result, they are forced to deal with the repercussions created by their generation.

Maybe we don’t deserve a high opinion, but it certainly makes a difference when someone is already prejudiced against us. In reality, people don’t like to disappoint others, and when they do, they often disappoint themselves for letting the other down. Entering a situation where we are expected to come up short makes it no easier to prove those presuppositions wrong. Confined by a label, Millennials may become content with not striving to do their best or have a good work ethic.

Plagued with low expectations, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that we continually disappoint those in authority above us. Millennials are burdened with task of overcoming the contempt that is associated with our name.

It becomes difficult to ameliorate the problem because it becomes too difficult to assess where it began. The elder complains that the Millennial is self-absorbed and does not want to work hard while the Millennial complains that it was because the elder raised him or her that way. And to a certain extent, both may be true. John Locke believed in the idea of tabula rasa, where everyone is born as a blank slate, and as a child, one is impressionable, the circumstances surrounding childhood molding the person to be who he will become for the rest of his life. If this is accurate, then a moral education and a proper upbringing is critical.

However, despite one’s childhood, one must take responsibility for his current situation. Pointing the blame to the past is no way of fixing the problem. It is true that narcissism and apathy have become apparent through our actions, but pointing the blame to the past will only work for so long. There is a movement by Alex and Brett Harris, authors of Do Hard Things, called the “Rebelution,” encouraging Millennials to overcome the barrier of low expectations by tackling more difficult tasks. Though we can not change people’s perceptions, we can change our outlook, pleasantly surprising others in the process.