The Entitlement Generation

I’ve been hearing the phrase “The Entitlement Generation” a lot lately. It’s a phrase I first heard from a boss when I started working and I’m starting to understand what he meant.

I don’t know what’s causing the sense of entitlement among far too many in the society.  The boss thought it was because our generation grew up in the booming ’90s and never experienced what it’s like to be unemployed having difficulty making ends meet.  My colleague thinks it’s the iPod, iPhone and the iTunes store that encourages, and makes possible, instant gratification.  My grandfather probably thinks it’s because we never fought a war, faced death and tried to rebuild our lives from a rubble.

Whatever the cause, the entitlement malaise infests my generation and those below and right above. Teenage tennis players who think they’re entitled to be coached like the next Andre Agassi. High school juniors who think they’re entitled to acceptance from an Ivy League. College students who think they’re entitled to an A- for an average paper. Graduates with no experience who think they’re entitled to a six salary figure. Lawyers who think they’re entitled to a position at a top-tier New York law firm. These are the people who have an undeservedly haughty view of themselves.

Lest people think I’m a hypocrite, I confess I have an unhealthy view of my self-worth. I’d like to think, though, that I have some perspective on my narcissism. I think I’m good enough to get anything, but I don’t think I’m entitled to them. I didn’t get into an Ivy League school, but I didn’t work that hard to make up for my deficiency in English either. I didn’t do well in Criminal Law and barely passed Legal Ethics, but those grades were well earned when I hadn’t done the reading. I don’t like to spend 100 hours per week at the office, but I’ve experienced the alternative of a 50 hour week with less than quarter of the pay.

Far too many people think the grass is greener on the other side without realizing that a greener grass needs to be cut more often. Life is a tradeoff, much like the grass. You think you’re working too hard? The alternative is leaving the current job and starting anew at a place where you don’t know the people or the work and the pay is bad. You want to make more money? The one with more pay is the one in which you can count on one hand the number of weekends you have free per year. You think you’re overqualified for a better job? Well, the employers at where you think you’re qualified for will hold you to a higher standard than being a pizza delivery boy.

People also need a reality check. The reason why you didn’t get into an Ivy League school was because 75% of the people who got in were smarter, more hardworking and had a special ability. The reason why you received a B- on your paper was because your writing was inconcise, incoherent and full of grammatical errors. The reason why you don’t have a job is because you’re an overeducated college grad with a liberal arts degree who can contribute none of knowledge, skill or experience. The reason why you got fired from your job is because you were lazy, incompetent and lacked common sense. If you find that you consistently find yourself in a situation that you think should be better, it’s time to realize that your life doesn’t suck because others suck but rather it’s because you suck.

Is this harsh? Maybe. But I think my dad was right when he lectured me a couple years ago that life is very difficult to live. Life is about choices and making the best of what you have. I was born in a middle class family, but my parents are overbearing. I’m tall but unathletic. I’m immature but have a sunny disposition. I don’t excel in anything, but I’m diverse as a bilingual double major in math and political science. All in all, I wasn’t dealt a royal straight flush, but it was, and is, a pretty good hand. Most people’s lives are like that, but they just don’t realize it. After all, a royal straight flush is wasted in the hands of a blind man.

The point is not that if your life sucks, you should just suck it up. Rather, if you have a terrible boss or you hate the work you do or your professor discriminates, the situation isn’t going to get any better by waiting for someone to do something about it. You’re entitled to a life only as good as the one you’ve worked at. There’s a lot to learn about life and people from a terrible situation and you gain an invaluable perspective from how you dealt with it. Granted, my life has had only minor bumps on the road, but at least I have the perspective to know that my life is pretty comfy. I’ve met far too many people who lack even that simple perspective of where they’re at.


4 Responses to “The Entitlement Generation”

  1. 1 The Elitist April 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm


    You know my situation so its whatever. But I have to say, this blog post can be summed up as: Everyone is spoiled and I’m not!!!!

    • 2 joesas April 26, 2011 at 1:32 am

      Dear Elitist,

      I am not an Elitist, so I will never take a condescending position that you suggest I took. You, a Northeast educated, blue state Yankee Elitist, misinterpreted the words of a gun owning, red neck Commoner: my message is that no one is entitled to have a “good” life handed to them, but rather, everyone has to work hard to pursue it by making difficult choices, and ultimately, that makes life meaningful.


  1. 1 To Entitled Eagles: You’re Not Special | The World According to Joe Trackback on May 16, 2016 at 10:09 am
  2. 2 Shoot for the Stars To Hit the Stars | The World According to Joe Trackback on May 16, 2016 at 10:27 am

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