Previous generations were young and bold, but our incendiary compounds are young, bold, and exacting. If we’re going to blow up, we plan on being fireworks, timed to music, with elements mixed to create effervescent colors. We light the fuse at both ends, not recognizing it won’t detonate any faster.
Who came up with this damn equation? Take 30 minus your age when you achieved something, and multiply those spare years with the magnitude of your success, increasing its value. We’ll call bullshit on the American Dream, but not on the amplification of glory based on youth.
We’ve seen our parents and their peers gamble their zeal and inheritances on a coin toss—the sides are hubris or victory—and we think we’ve learned better. As children, we screwed our eyelids tight and cast our wishes with footnotes in fine print before blowing out the birthday candles.
“Our dreams are delicate fucking snowflakes,” we bellow, as we micromanage our expectations. We’re all bridezillas and have prepped itineraries for genies and fairy godmothers, which we’ve poorly convinced our parents, teachers, and employers we don’t believe in. But the next person who shows up with a universal checklist for success is going to get the clipboard jammed up their ass. I’d feel sorry for guidance counselors, but I’ve met some.
The dishes we’re served are not what we expected. What about the substitutions and the sauce we wanted on the side?
Everyone in this generation has been putting in special orders. The differences between us are how we respond to what we’re presented: to complain, to try to send it back, to eat with discernment, to take dozens of pictures until the food is cold, to not make a fuss but pick at the meal without appetite, to choke it down with resentment and pride, to savor and belch.
It might be too late to improve our table manners, but we’d best remember to dine as we eat. Once our dreams are consumed or spoiled, our plates will be empty, but look up. There are friends, foes, and strangers sitting at the table with us.