If you’re a millennial. That is you were born between 1980 and 2000. You’re part of the self-esteem movement. You were told by your parents that you were special. That you were different. That no matter what you did, you’d be okay. I know because I was there. We were raised in a world where there was no such thing as too much praise. It was a welcome change to the tough love baby boomers received, but there was one problem. None of it helped.
Over 15,000 case studies have emerged since the movement arose in the early 70s. Almost all found that high self-esteem didn’t help reduce poor grades, antisocial behaviour or addiction. In most cases it proved counterproductive. The studies showed that children who were highly praised often developed an early sense of entitlement and became complacent. Or worse, they felt pressure to perform and developed increased levels of anxiety.
At best, the self-esteem movement made us hyper-sensitive. Myself included. Extreme cases have resulted in an onslaught of hipsters, vegans, transcendental meditators and the like. Don’t get me wrong, there is no shame to these lifestyle choices, but it’s worth understanding that fads are nothing more than a far cry for validation.
Yes, society favours the sensitive for now, but it won’t last forever. The warning light is flashing. Next generation will focus on the work, not whether they deserve the work. And for creatives especially, this signals serious competition. Use the head-start.