Putting the Stereotypical Notion of a Tightwad on its Tush

Is Gen Y Really “Generation Instant Gratification”?

My husband and I are what pop culture refers to as “millennials”: born in the early 80s, we’re too old to be Gen X’ers (much to my chagrin), so we’ve been tagged Gen Y. We’re the generation that came of age with AOL Instant Messenger, Facebook, and cell phones in our book bags. My husband and I are “vanguards” of this generation – the elder statesmen of the millennials, if you will – and often tell anyone more than a few years younger than us about how back in the olden days, it used to take our dial-up Internet connections minutes to log in; it’s the 21st century equivalent of my father’s tale of walking to school uphill both ways, in a foot of snow no less.

As for my parents, they’re baby boomers, who were both born, raised, and currently living in an upper middle class lifestyle. They worked throughout their 20s to buy their first “starter” home – a modest 3 bedroom, 1 bath house in a somewhat-dodgy neighborhood – before moving “up” in life to a larger place in the ‘burbs, where they remain today. My mother just got her “dream kitchen” about six years ago, when she was already well into her 50s.

My parents’ generation was one that was condititioned to wait. Wait to have sex until you’re married; wait until you’re financially secure before buying a house; don’t retire until you’re old enough to receive Social Security. Wait, wait, wait. They’re a patient generation.

And we millennials? We’re quite the opposite.

That notion was driven home for me just the other night, as I sat on my couch watching another episode of “House Hunters.” (Yes, I know the show is one big set-up, but I like it anyway.) Yet another young couple was bemoaning the lack of updated features and open floor plans in a mid-century neighborhood. “It’s ok,” one young, would-be homeowner lamented, “but it’s just not my dream house.”

I wanted to roll my eyes. Seriously, she couldn’t have been more than 30 (now that I’ve crossed that threshold, I do feel a sense of “been there, done that” with regard to my 20s and anyone currently navigating that decade). She and her husband had only been married a year; they didn’t have a dog, let alone kids. What could they know about their dream house? About life? I could feel myself chaffing at their lack of life experience.

But when you get right down to it, I’m just about as impatient as they come. My husband and I moved into our new house about a year ago now, and we did so with the idea that it was our “forever home.” We’ve reupholstered, refinished, repainted just about every surface we can find, save the kitchen. My mother, that incredibly patient woman who waited until her mid-50s to finally get her dream kitchen, told me that new cabinets and counter top – not to mention that farmhouse-style sink I desperately want – can wait, too; but I’m anxious to get everything in place, to get my home exactly how I want it, and so I, like that not-so-young girl I was scoffing at on House Hunters, couldn’t wait, couldn’t be patient, couldn’t put off til tomorrow what I could have now, now, NOW!

Millennials like my husband and I really epitomize a generation of instant gratification. We can find out sports scores, weather forecasts, and road delays at a touch of a button; we can log onto the Internet anywhere at anytime in milliseconds; there are more fast food joints than sit-down restaurants in our country; speed limits across the nation are on the rise as cars get faster and faster and drivers get more and more impatient. And young professionals, like my husband and I, can’t wait to get the keys to our dream homes.

We’re the millennials. And we’re a generation that can’t wait.

One Response to Is Gen Y Really “Generation Instant Gratification”?

  1. I think there is a smart way to skip the waiting and a dumb way to do it. If you are skipping the wait and failing to think through the situation or consequences, you are probably headed for trouble. But, if you have thought things out, have a strategy, and are really prepare for the decision, it seems like waiting isn’t necessarily any superior at all! Good luck with your exciting plans!

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