Clueless Millennials – Fighting the Existential Crisis

I’ve no idea what I am doing.

Well, I’ve no mission. All my life I had some objective that was given to me or I had created for myself which drove me to wake up in the morning and look at the day as something to triumph over. I had to beat the day and whatever challenges it threw at me. Tenth standard, twelfth standard, graduation, getting placed, acing entrance tests, securing a job in the field of your choice, buying my own gaming PC. Something, anything that scared me with its magnitude, excited me with its challenges and propelled me to rise. Today, I’ve no overarching mission. Granted, work will always give you enough and more to stress over but if you think about it even for an hour, the whole futility of it dawns over you and falls like a ton of bricks.

“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.” said Tyler Durden to the protagonist in the legendary Fight Club. I never really grasped the meaning of this quote back when I watched the movie. Today, I live it. And my hunch is, so do most of my peers. See I am extremely thankful to God that we have no war or epidemic to keep us on our toes. But I feel like I am on an assembly line, undergoing every phase where I go through the motions with the factory of life dictating the terms. We thought we were different man! Maybe it is true. Maybe us Indian millennials are full of ourselves. We seek meaning where none exists because we fear insignificance. This was not a problem faced by our parents’ generation. Why?

Well, Indians have never really had it this good to be honest. Post independence, the mid 2000s was finally when Indians actually had something to cheer about on the economic front. By then, our parents were comfortably in their 40s and 50s. All their life, they had only one ambition – survival. If they succeeded, they’d work on progress. Progressing their wealth, their status and if possible, their lifestyle. We learnt from them the importance of prudence and hard work but perhaps what we didn’t learn was the art of ‘satisfaction’. But was it really our fault? These tiger parents fought so hard for everything, they passed those fighting genes onto us! We are the ambitious generation. No wonder, when someone asks us “Who are you?” we answer with our official designation and not our caste, creed or religious identity. Our generation doesn’t give a fuck about Bunty Singh the Rajput but they do want to know more about Bunty Singh the Financial Analyst.

While this shows a progressive side of Indian millennials, it also leads to all of us attaching our self worth to our jobs/ designations and tangible achievements. But when every milestone of your life looks similar to everyone else’s, you soon realise you are not part of some special journey unique to you. It is just an assembly line and you are working hard to become the shiniest cog on that belt. Is it a bad thing? Being a cog? Are we all meant to be our own machines? Is it wishful thinking to try and live life on your own terms? It’s tougher than I had imagined, that’s for sure. The more you are dependent on people around you, the more factors you must consider before taking drastic steps. After all, the road less traveled is not made of tar. Sacrifice, uncertainty and a nagging feeling of unease are sure to follow every time you take a decision that isn’t line with the rules of the assembly line.

Somewhere I feel betrayed by my elders. I thought we would figure shit out by 25 man! From what I can see from this hill though is that nobody knows shit and almost everything is random as fuck. And that’s disconcerting to me. Because we were used to a modicum of control till now. Not anymore. We are out of the “cocoon” my school HOD referred to more than a decade ago. Everything was given to us and all we had to do to fare well was perform. Want good marks, study the books being given. Want to go to that college, study for this entrance test. Trying hard but still failing? Here are some tuition classes. Still not sure about what to do? Take a sabbatical. Well, rule number one – “There are no breaks in real life!”. Everything happens all at once and your success depends on what you prioritise and how you respond to each challenge keeping in mind its effect on the other challenges.

But who teaches us how to respond best and manage our life better? If everybody knows everything, I must have missed the class when they taught it. If everyone knows nothing, then the world is one big joke and all success is nothing but a stroke of luck. But people who are consistently successful defy this theory. So my best guess is that some people know more than others and enough to manage their life better. Those people can be approached to mentor us. That’s the only sensible way forward in my eyes. And even then, they can only guide and not do it for us. I recently read in a book “Life is simple, but it’s not easy.”

A friend of mine said it best recently “Adult life is all about winging it!”. “Wing it and hope for the best.” is what I’ve been telling myself for the past six months. If we don’t know what we’re doing, we can drink from the well of wisdom around us and ensure if nothing, at least obvious mistakes aren’t repeated. I am not joking in the slightest when I say that most of my decisions in the past year have been gambles with a very low visibility of the end result. Maybe I should work on speaking to people who have made the journey before and try my best to map their route. That is the closest life offers in terms of certainty. And if there is something in our life that requires us to be a trailblazer, then so be it.

It’s time to fly.

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