In the last few years, a preferred topic of journalistic inquiry amongst concerned Baby Boomers and Gen Xers is the unique situation caused by the invasion of the workforce by Millenials. Born from the early 80s to the early aughts, Millenials bear the positive distinction of being among the most idealistic and socially conscious generations ever. Formed in the Internet Age, Millenials have knowledge of and wish to improve things on a global stage in a way no other generation has even had an opportunity to.
This idealism is not solely limited to notions of transcontinental betterment, however. Unfortunately, many have noted that these same Millenials also bear unrealistically idealistic notions of their own capabilities leading to a sense of grandiosity and entitlement often categorized under the term of “narcissism.”
Sociologists debate how seemingly an entire generation has been captured by Narcissus’ condition, but, no matter the cause, the effects seem rather dire. Relationships between Millenials often can suffer because of this shared selfishness, but it also seems to hamper the ability of my generation to really grind out a job in the work place The latter is the most frequently discussed fruit of this excessive self-love and is the main topic to be analyzed in this article.
Having been told they are special throughout their entire developmental life, Millenials find it difficult to put their head down and crank out the work required of entry-level positions because they feel that their skill set requires more challenge and excitement. Can you really blame them? They’ve been told since kindergarten to “follow their passions” and if the situation you’re in doesn’t really resonate with your ideals and passions then something is defective. One can see the apparent difficulties for Millenials relationships (i.e. “as soon as you encounter difficulties it’s nothing you have to change about yourself it’s their problem and run”) and the same dynamic is played out at the professional level.
My intention with this article is not to simply ensure that an online Catholic journal has an article similar to those that have been written dozens of times already on Yahoo News! or for the Huffington Post. Neither is it my intention to join the chorus of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who are “…just so appalled at the lack of a work ethic in this newest generation.” Rather, I would seek to call out to Catholics Millenials who have grown up in the “You Are Special” milieu to confront how the inability to find meaning in the mundane can be a profound detriment to a relationship with Jesus.
Note the tendency of the Millenial: an overexalted sense of self leads to a general discontentment with being engaged in a *gulp* NORMAL way of life. When this underlying tendency becomes “Catholicized,” this sense of grandiosity becomes applied to the spiritual life. We may even convince ourselves that such notions are really God’s voice we are hearing.
I have a theory that the vocation of Perpetual Discernment is in some sense related to this grandiosity. “Only when I find a situation that perfectly “fits” me will I choose to dive into it.”
In other cases, my fellow Millenials and I will read the Lives of the Saints and be convinced that we too MUST be called to such exalted levels of public immolation. This conviction leads to discontentment with our little sacrifices surrounding family life and 9-5 employment. If we really loved the Lord (and if He really loved us), then we would have an international speaking ministry or would already be in South Sudan serving orphans, right? I posit the question to my fellow sinners though, are these the only real paths to holiness? Does sanctity really require such public displays? Is that ALWAYS the Lord’s desire for you as a saint?
I think in part because of my own Millenialness, I’ve begun to develop a deep devotion to the saints who haven’t been canonized by the Church. There are probably some pretty powerful, heavy-hitters sitting up there right by the throne of Jesus of whom we here on Earth have never even heard. Close to the Lord’s heart. Completely anonymous.
To put a finer point on it, the real difficulty is this: if our excessive sense of self causes us to be discontent with our daily lives and unable to find the Lord’s hand working in the mundane, then we are currently, right now, missing the only opportunity for grace that is being offered to us. Holiness, sanctity, grace is a present moment kind of thing and if our present moment is pretty *gulp* NORMAL then the Lord has chosen for us a quiet and private holiness, at least for now.
Let’s be those kind of saints, guys. No one’s going to know about us, but we’re going to know the Lord’s heart pretty well.