Irrational Entitlement: No matter where I’m working, I always feel like I’m being taken for granted, and that I deserve better.
The entire article summarized a lot of what I’ve thought and experienced since I graduated in 2003, but what really resonated with me was the following quote:
They expect to go to college, to make lots of money, and perhaps even to be famous. Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between optimism and confidence, and irrational entitlement.
Irrational Entitlement. I’ve never had anyone lay those words out there for me before, and now that I’ve heard them, I can’t help but think that maybe I’ve been living my life with an irrational sense of entitlement.
I grew up hearing comments like “You know computers? You’re gonna be the next Bill Gates!” — “Computer Science? You’ll be rich, kid!” — “You’re a genius. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll be successful no matter what you do.” Consequently, I have this expectation that the world will deliver on these promises that have been spoon-fed to me since the start of high school.
My first job didn’t make me rich. I felt like that was normal, so I was okay with it — until I learned how my skills set and hard work was making my boss rich, which caused me to quit.
I tried doing freelance computer work, where I quickly learned that people don’t want to pay the computer guy to fix their home computer. I found another day job where I was being taken advantage of, and the “become unhappy, find another job” cycle continued. This behavior is mentioned in the article:
It only makes sense that the environment in which they were raised would inform what they expected from a job—namely, flexibility, authority, instant respect and continuous affirmation. (This is a generation, after all, in which seven out of 10 rank themselves “above average” in academic ability.) “They’re not going to put up with the ‘paying your dues’ and being in the mailroom for the first three years,” says Rothberg. “In their mind it’s, ‘I graduated. I’ve always succeeded. I’ve always got a trophy for everything I’ve done. All of my friends and everyone I know is above average, so when I go into a place of work, I’m either going to set that place on fire or they’re not good enough for me and I’m out of there.’ “
It describes me to a T. I think that I’m hot shit because I graduated in the top 10 of my class. I think that I’m hot shit because I received a bunch of scholarships and awards. I think I’m hot shit because I was President of the National Honor Society, I graduated college with a 4.0 GPA, I finished the four-year Computer Science Curriculum in only three years, and I graduated Summa Cum Laude with program distinction by age 20. For a long time I believed that employers would be lucky to hire me, and would be knocking down my front door trying to do so.
This recession has taught me better. It took six months of hardcore job hunting to find my most recent job. Nearly all of the job postings I saw during my job hunt had a long, bulleted list of high-level requirements, but only offered minimum wage. After six months at my current job, I’ve learned to suck it up and deal with long hours in a short-staffed environment since at least I have a job.
Still, it’s hard to change your mantra from “I deserve better” to “It could always be worse.” I’ve always been one to suggest that if you want something, then you should have it. Consequently, letting go of what just might be “Irrational Entitlement” feels like giving up hope.
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