Poppy is the author of A Bard's Lament and the Black Diamond series. She lives in Enoshima with her husband and young son.
It seems that everyone is depressed lately. In particular, millennials (those born between 1980 and the early 2000s) seem to be suffering from some kind of depression or lack of will to live. Millennials are accused of being lazy, unmotivated, and negative about life in general.
Of course, we see way more cases of depression in the 21st century because we, as a society, can recognise and understand mental health issues a lot more. But that can't be the only reason. The rise of depression cases, young people taking medication such as Prozac, and even the spike in dark (but often amusing) depression and suicide memes indicates there is something more than an increase in diagnosis.
1. We Don't See a Future
People tend to actually be happier in countries where there is room for improvement. People want to know that the future is bright, even when the present isn't as good. This actually makes a lot of sense, as many first-world countries that are said to have it better than everyone else tend to be the countries with all the depressed millennials.
If you know that this is as good as it gets and "it will only go downhill from here", then it's easy to think "what's the point in trying?" After all, if there is nothing good waiting for you, then you are going to be in the same position whether you work hard or not.
The "baby boomer" generation could buy a house, afford to have two or three children, go to university, and live relatively debt-free. These things that were perfectly normal 50 years ago are out of reach for most young people today.
2. The Economic Crash in 2008 Killed a Lot of Dreams
Most people who are young adults now were children or teens when everything went belly-up in 2008. We are at the age where we were told as kids that if we worked hard and followed our passions, we would make it. Now we are told we are lucky to get a minimum-wage paying job. We are told that dreams are only for those who can afford it.
We still see the theme of "if you want it badly enough, you'll get it" in Hollywood and Disney. Of course, people still reach their goals and have dreams, but it seems much further away than it did 10 years ago.
We are bitter that we didn't really get to enjoy "pre-crash" life. Children born in the 1990s were in high school when they were suddenly told to "take any job you can, even if you hate it, and be grateful you're not homeless." The future was suddenly very bleak, and we resent it.
3. We Get Blamed for Everything by the Older Generations
You may or may not have already seen this collage someone made of clippings saying what millennials were killing on Reddit.
Most of the reasons millennials are "killing industries" is down to money. We can't afford a house; to many young people, this is something only the rich can afford. We work long hours for a very small amount of pay, and therefore don't have spare cash to have a gym subscription, go out to fancy restaurants, and stimulate the economy by going shopping every weekend.
And yet people like journalists above think it's appropriate to blame us for everything. If you grow up in a world where you have to go to university and land yourself in thousands of dollars' worth of debt, grab the first job you can and hold onto it even if it crushes your soul and has nothing to do with your degree, and find somewhere to live that you can actually afford even if it sucks, and then be blamed for large businesses crumbling, then who can blame you for becoming depressed?
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Everything from social media to politics to climate change is blamed on us. Being told we suck while at the same time being told the future is hopeless, is it any wonder young people are struggling?
4. We Crave the Romance of the '90s
If you haven't seen it yet, a post on Tumblr summed up the "sad adult" syndrome of young adults today. The post suggests it's only "'90s kids", but it could easily apply to millennials in general.
The way it's presented is a little crude but it hits the nail on the head.
Maybe, as the post suggested, we feel sad because our past is as bright as our future is bleak. We crave easier, simpler times where we were promised a great job if we followed our dreams, a house, and a family just like our parents got.
5. Fears of the Future for Earth
Millennials aren't only worried about their personal future. As depressing as a bad job and endless debt is, personal dissatisfaction isn't even the worst of it.
We are constantly bombarded with worries of the environment, world wars, dangerous laws, terrorism, natural disasters, and corruption. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it also means we can get breaking news straight away and be aware of all the terrible things happening across the world at once.
Everyone is different, but I'm sure most people would agree that waking up to another mass shooting, terrorist attack, earthquake, or some other disaster puts a bit of a downer on your day.
Of course, we aren't the only generation to suffer worries of wars. I'm not saying we have that worse than the older generation. But it is always there.
I'm not saying there was ever a "golden age" where everyone was happy and life was perfect. What I'm saying is stop blaming us for everything, have a little heart, and try to understand the struggles that young people face. Thankfully, with the growing awareness of these problems and plenty of online and in-person therapy and help, we can help solve these problems and give young adults, many of whom are promising and talented people, some hope.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Am I just a dumb, sleezy, worthless millennial with no ambitions or goals? Will I always be destined for failure and misery? When will I go back to being simple and cool?
Answer: You are who you choose to be. Unhappy with life? Make the necessary changes.
© 2017 Poppy