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Steve Hansen: Millennials unprepared for life’s challenges due to lack of hardships

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Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 6:57 pm

They’d been going together for almost seven years.

She’s a successful 28-year-old attorney from a wealthy Marin family. He’s a mid-30s brilliant mathematician, who loves motorcycle racing, snow skiing and various other sports.

But something went wrong. Last week, “Jessica" and I’ll call him “Dylan," broke up their relationship. She initiated the split with a number of excuses that at first, didn’t make much sense.

“It’s your hair,” she complained. “You look like a mad professor. You’ve never styled it.”

“I didn’t know you objected to that. I’ll change it,” he pleaded.

“It’s also your clothes and your car. You dress like you don’t care, and that old primered Toyota truck you drive just doesn’t cut it — especially when you can afford much better.”

“I’m shocked.” Dylan replied. “I had no idea that you…”

“OK, I’ll get to the point,” said Jessica. “You’ve never grown up. You’ve had opportunities for great careers and you’ve just thrown them all away. I can’t waste my time with you anymore.”

That last line must have stung Dylan like a cluster of angry hornets!

So what went wrong with this millennial couple? I’m afraid their story is not unique. Dylan’s best friend, who is 10 years older, saw the handwriting on the wall many months earlier.

“You should marry that girl,” he told Dylan. “She’s beautiful, brilliant, successful, kind, fun-loving and comes from a wonderful family. What are you waiting for?”

“We millennials don’t get married,” was Dylan’s curt reply.

But now he’s paying the price for his selfish naivety, and he seems quite upset over the breakup.

There are a number of issues that probably led to this unfortunate situation. Many in Dylan’s generation and perhaps Generation Xers, have never really suffered, nor have they experienced firsthand, the suffering of others. There was no military draft hanging over their heads, no wars to fight (unless they volunteered), and no economy comparable to that of the Great Depression.

They’ve grown up in a time when narcissism is “in” and instant gratification is demanded. Focus on one’s self and new digital toys are the goals rather than service toward others.

The fact that Dylan is in the top 1 percent of intelligence quotients has most likely created a sense of arrogance. Of course, he has all the answers to life. People should come to him and worship at his throne. Life is just a series of self-aggrandizing events and nothing more.

People his age don’t seem to have a grasp of history either. They don’t understand present or future politics based on hard lessons from the past.

Another issue appears to be a result of the digital age. Dylan’s face-to-face communication skills are probably lacking. Some young people today even text at the dinner table rather than engage in direct conversation with others.

He has spent his money on frivolous self-entertainment and jumped from one job to another. You see, Dylan’s various employment positions have never been quite “right,” and of course, it’s never his fault.

Approaching his fourth decade of life, Dylan has no career to speak of, and no money in the bank.

It’s no wonder Jessica gave up on him, as she has taken assertive control of her own destiny. She expects others in her intimate circle to do the same. After several years, the attractive attorney must have realized that brilliance in someone is no asset if it remains undisciplined and without direction.

So hopefully, this is Dylan’s wakeup call. Now he is truly suffering, and perhaps it’s for the first time in his life.

If he can grow from the experience and realize that joy in life comes from treating others with genuine interest, love and respect, while treating himself in the same manner, perhaps his breakup will be the best thing that ever happened.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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