Millennials are a generation of youngies who seem so eager to let go of their mothers’ wrappers and their fathers’ hands to seek a greener pasture – all by themselves. Compared to older generations who seemed to have their lives all planned out in steps – go to school, read your book hard, get good grades, graduate, get a job, start a family and continue to grow like that. The world of Millenials has been enhanced and impacted by technology. Everything is changing…fast. Now, you can do a million and one things with a smartphone and work while schooling.
The narrative has, thus, changed from “finish school and get a white-collar/civil service job” to “you need to be your own boss and start creating jobs”. It has also changed from focusing on the problem of the government and bad economy to “you should start thinking of what to do for your country, don’t wait for the government”.
Because everyone seems to be moving so fast now and achieving so much at a young age, there’s also the imposition of total dependence on yourself only and expectations from the society, family, and friends are usually cut short.
“No one owes you anything; not your mother, not your father. No one. Take charge of your life.”
This message is being constantly passed across to many people – no thanks to motivational speakers and our celebrities. They are the ones who will say “I started from the hood, I did all sorts of menial jobs. I hustled and hustled to get to where I am. Look at me now…”
While it is good to encourage people to take charge of their lives and hustle just like you did. It is not exactly effective to teach young people that no one owes them anything.
Yes, you don’t want kids growing up with an entitled mentality, you don’t want them blaming other people for their failures and you don’t want them to be dependent on other people. It’s understandable. But you cannot treat extremism with another form of extremism. The world is not in black and white.
In teaching young people that no one owes them anything, you are already creating a wall between them and the world. You are infusing a belief that they can navigate through life all by themselves and they do not need the help of others. In a world where young people are struggling to find their feet, struggling to discover themselves, struggling with a lot of mental and emotional issues, “no one owes you anything” is a harmful ideology to pass on to them.
In this world that we live in, everyone needs everyone. It would have been very difficult – if not impossible – to hit it big as a musician or business person if someone had not stretched their hands to pull you up. At a point, people (or someone) believed in your dreams and took a chance on you before you could ‘blow’. No matter how hard you work, if one person does not say “let me give you a trial”, there’s no way you would make it.
In the process of teaching people how to be independent, we shouldn’t absorb other people (or factors) of their responsibilities to humanity and the world at large. Parents bring children into this world, so yes! They owe their kids something. They owe them a good and comfortable life and an environment where they can thrive, find their own and eventually stand on their feet – until they become independent. If as a parent, you don’t want to owe your kids anything, then don’t bring them to the world.
Your employer owes you something aside from your salary – a good work environment where you can grow and mentorship.
Your friends owe you loyalty and love. If they cannot give you this, they are not your friends.
The government owes the citizens something – in fact, many things. If a government official feels he does not owe the people, then he should resign!
Rather than confront the situation and rectify the system, Nigerians have found a way to live through abnormalities. After experiencing how painful it is to pay heavy taxes and still provide all basic infrastructure yourself, you will still pass the same knowledge to younger ones and tell them no one owes them anything, rather than teach them how to fight for their rights.
The illusion that they can do it alone is one reason Millenials have so many dreams and have built so many castles in the air – just to discover that the world does not really work that way.
“No one owes you anything” has also driven certain narratives in the wrong direction. Rather than mount pressure on institutions to create a better environment for kids to grow and youths to thrive, we mount pressure on young people to manage the situation and still make it amidst all economic and societal hurdles.
Talabi passed all his papers during WAEC, but could not get admission into the university until 6 years after. In school, he wrote exams but they couldn’t find his paper and he had an extra year. As an upper-class graduate, he can’t get a job. As an employee, he is being owed salaries for months. All these institutions have failed him, how then will you say “no one owes you anything”. He has paid his dues and they owe him!
We need to admit that, to an extent, Millenials – especially those in Nigeria – have been robbed! And it is increasingly difficult to bounce back when you have been robbed if you do not have hands to pull you up!
People owe you.
This is not a call for you to move about expecting everyone to do everything for you; that’s pure laziness. But it is important for you to expect certain things from certain people or institutions, so you can also pay it forward. However, if you don’t get it, move on and pay it forward.
We seem to be getting so mean in today’s world. Everyone is doing things their own way and hiding their success methods from others. Deadbeat fathers are getting proud of their deadbeatness. Parents are washing their hands off their kids immediately they finish university because “you are now a big girl and your mates are already making money”.
A lot of people are struggling but don’t want to talk so they won’t be seen as weak. Many youths are battling with self-condemnation and berating themselves because they believe that every failure is their fault.
While teaching people not to expect anything from anyone, we should also give them a sense of belonging by teaching them that they can ask for help when they are stuck – and the world should help! We need to also encourage people to help others. Just like you need help to make it, people also need your help to make it.
Take it or leave it, no one can navigate through this life on their own. We all need people!