Bryan Binkholder Discusses – How to Stop Playing the Blame Game
If you read any of the countless articles and opinions that are out there from young, college-educated Americans who can’t find work, you’ll find a depressing scene. Not all of our youth is bitter, but there’s enough of them who are to get noticed by the nation’s news publications.
In September of last year, the Atlantic published what turned into a five part series they called ‘Profiles of the Jobless: The Mad as Hell Millennial Generation.’ According to the paper, they were only set to publish four parts in the series, but the overwhelming response of young people caused them to publish a second round of comments, for a total of five.
If you read the emails, you’ll find that much of it involves pointing the finger or placing the blame on someone else. Some of our youth blames the “predatory system of higher education” while others say the “generation that came before them failed.” Regardless of where the buck stops, one thing is certain, –those who took the time to write in were indeed, mad as hell.
I have to notice a few things and ask a few questions here though. First of all, the complaints would be much more valid (in my eyes at least) if these college graduates were really seeing hard times, but from the sounds of their emails, it is merely the cry of a generation who expected more, got less, and are unsure of how or where to turn things around. To me, that’s what we should be teaching our children. How to face disappointment as a part of life and come out on top anyway.
The Cries of Despair
For example, the first email was from a 23 year old who graduated a year ago. He complains of feeling, “warped and degraded, disillusioned and betrayed.” Why? Because his skills are being underutilized. He works full time for a temp agency and fears he may never see anything better. At the end of his email, he blames himself for “pursuing a Liberal Arts Degree in communication rather than a BS in engineering or computer science.” So, he feels like a failure…at 23.
Others wrote similar stories, –some disgusted with the generations before them, and each writer making huge generalizations and stereotypes. Another writer talks about having a 4.0 GPA in high school, a scholarship to a top twenty university and “the whole world ahead of her.” Studying Business in college, she graduated early, began applying for her dream position and could almost taste success, but the economy unexpectedly tanked and it took her over two years after college to finally land a full time job (and not the job she had hoped for). She writes in the email that she is still there to this day, drudging away, “only because she knows how difficult it will be to find another.”
Although the stories and feelings are very real to those writing them, let’s take a different viewpoint. Remember, I like to say, “Your attitude determines your altitude,” and there’s no other time that your attitude is vitally important than when you’re in the middle of disappointment.
Stop the Blame Game
We can always find someone to blame, can’t we? It’s so easy, because often it’s true, even if it’s to the smallest degree. The truth is that we’ve all paved the way for some of what the next generation is living. Sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control (such as 911) and sometimes there are choices others have made (the spending habits or the wastefulness parents may have passed on to their children or those within the scope of their influence) which were held onto and played a part in our failure.
Whatever the case and whatever the degree, I’m here to tell you that the blame game will never get anyone anywhere. Certainly, you may be able to prove your point. Your parents, your school counselors, and your next door neighbor may have all advised you to pursue a particular career, –and they may have all been wrong. At the end of the day, if nothing turns out the way you had hoped, you may be able to blame them all, but guess what? You’re still the one responsible to figure out your future. At the end of the day, we stand alone. It’s our decisions, our efforts, our gut feelings, our dedication, –that’s what gets us to where we end up. And, at the end of the day if we aren’t happy with where we are, what should we do?
What To Do When You Don’t Like Where You’ve Ended Up
If you’re 23 and you don’t like where you are…If you’re 53 and you don’t like where you are, there are two choices. You can get bitter or you can get better. People get bitter every day, –we’ve all seen it. I’m sure you’ve met the 50 year old man who never stops talking about the “time when he was 30″ and he worked for a particular company for two years until it folded. “That was the best time of my life,” he says. Well, why can’t every time period become the best time of your life?
If you made a mistake…start again.
If you got the wrong degree…make it work or go back to school.
If you find yourself in a dead end job feeling unfulfilled…decide what will fulfill you.
Maybe the truth is that you didn’t exactly know what you were pursuing in the first place. I didn’t, and there’s absolutely no shame in my game. I began in the field of education and spent years there until I found another path I decided to pursue, –the financial field. Entering into it, my desire and what was presented to me were completely different. I thought I was going to help individuals, companies, and employees secure a solid retirement for themselves. What I found, were traps, lies, and misdeeds in the industry that left me at a crossroads.
This wasn’t what I had bargained for, but it was where I found myself. I suppose I could have gone back to school, changed careers again, or made a variety of other decisions, but mine was to stay. The financial industry, and especially the insider information I had acquired, intrigued me and sparked my passion. I had the overwhelming desire to protect investors from the financial salespeople and the traps I could see (the ones they were unaware of). So, I paved a new road, carved out my own niche. This wasn’t what I thought success would look like. The path was pretty crooked, but every step of it has brought me to where I am now. It’s all served to mold me, shape my viewpoints, and most of all, the failures I’ve experienced have taught me how to take unexpected turns and still find my path.
That’s what we need to teach our children, and I do think we’re all responsible for that. From the parent to the teacher to the baseball coach and everyone else in between. Let’s teach our kids not to blame the economy, the times, their upbringing, their education, or the generation they were born in. Instead, let’s teach them how to overcome and beat the odds no matter what, –because let’s face it, there will always be disappointments and circumstances to overcome.
Do you have views or a story about facing adversity? Have you faced the current job market and overcome the odds? We’d love to hear your story.
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