Is Gen Y really suffering from a “narcissism epidemic,” or is it more a symptom of insecurity? (And who’s to say other generations aren’t suffering the same epidemic?)
by Valerie Mondesir
While checking my Hotmail account this morning, I came across an interesting article questioning if Gen Y is facing a narcissism epidemic. I realize this topic has been rehashed repeatedly throughout the blogosphere and elsewhere. Perhaps it’s because of this rehashing that I’m beginning to wonder if, in fact, Gen Y is actually the most visibly insecure generation to date. The self-proclaimed narcissism, the apparent entitlement, the constant hand-holding—aren’t they all symptoms of a deeper problem? It all sounds like a case of “fake-it-til-you-make-it-itis” to me. Except that deep down, most people will never really completely accept themselves and will continue to search in vain for outside sources of acceptance and happiness. It’s the human curse, and it doesn’t seem to be waning with Gen Y by any means. Exactly the opposite is happening, in my opinion. Turn on the TV if you need proof. My Super Sweet 16, anyone? If that doesn’t help, look at the plethora of modeling contests, dating shows and singing shows, etc.
Ten percent of 20-somethings have symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, compared to three percent of the 65-plus set? And when asked straight out, many 20-somethings agree that they are indeed narcissistic and that there is nothing wrong with it. Oh, please; spare me. Narcissistic personality disorder has nothing to do with true self-confidence and everything to do with deep insecurity hidden behind a facade of self-confidence. Just go to your library and look up the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Sure, psychology is a fuzzy science, but being called narcissistic is not and never will be a compliment. Not a good look, people. Not good at all.
All of this alludes to my previous post about self-awareness “education” that emphasizes individual positive traits and attempts to bury any indication of the negative ones. That is not self-awareness at all. That is biased awareness and cause for an inflated ego. While it may be good up to a point, I would argue that anyone who feels the need to inform people directly or indirectly that they love themselves on a regular basis doesn’t believe it at all and is really trying to convince themselves.
In the end, trying to convince other people of how you feel internally and turning them off by inappropriately acting “assertively” doesn’t necessarily work, and it gets us nowhere. Because there is a time and place for assertiveness, and it is not when you argue that you deserve a “B” simply because you showed up to class. Or because you deserve a Lexus because you graduated high school. Or because you deserve a top salary because, well… just because you exist. It’s a false sense of security that will come crashing down when people get tired of babying us and when we as a generation start getting married and having kids who are even more demanding than we are. All of that energy may be better used to really discover yourself and develop a sense of humility. Sure, stand up for yourselves when you have to, but sometimes I feel like we suck at picking our battles.
That said, I am proud to be a member of Gen Y. Despite the bad rep that we get for our entitlement issues, you have to admire our unapologetic gumption to get what we want even if the motives and consequences are less than desirable. For me, our real issue is being truly self-aware, and in the name of self-awareness, I agree that it isn’t always about Gen Y, we aren’t always the shiznit and we do have plenty of faults that we have yet to fully acknowledge.