Millennial 'Narcissism': A Reactionary Survival Mechanism In An Age Of Anxiety

Millennial 'Narcissism': A Reactionary Survival Mechanism In An Age Of Anxiety

I believe that our "narcissism" is a symptom of our generation's need to react and rebel in the most quickly moving and anxious age in history


On May 20, 2013, Joel Stein of Time magazine published an article titled "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation," an attack on the narcissistic tendencies of the millennial generation, a calling out of my generation as "lazy, entitled, selfish, and shallow." Stein's analysis of millennials, the generation born from 1980 to 2000, goes beyond a cookie-cutter use of statistics to support his point, but analyzes why we have become the most narcissistic generation ever: "They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they're trying to take over the Establishment but because they're growing up without one."

Stein couldn't label millennials simply the "Me" generation, because that title is taken by our predecessors, the baby boomers. He points to the invention of the concept of self-esteem in the 1970s, and the problem with that is "when people try to boost self-esteem, they accidentally boost narcissism instead." He later quotes researcher Sean Lyons in saying that we are in "a crisis of unmet expectations."

The only thing worse than our narcissism is what arises from it: entitlement. We have less civic engagement and lower political participation than any group, according to Stein. Our narcissism has become our generation's mortal sin.

In a response to the Stein article, Emmett Rensin labeled the millennial generation, instead, the "We Generation" in an August 13, 2013 column in USA Today. Stein labels us the "Me Me Me Generation" when millennial levels of giving to charity and political engagement are on pace to surpass all previous generations, despite an era of crippling youth unemployment and student debt.

Of course, the narcissism that our generation shows is most often on full display on social media, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. But is social media truly a "vanity project" when we spend far more time browsing our Facebook feeds rather than fine-tuning our profiles and posts? Is social media an assertion of independence when we spend far more time reading Tweets of our friends, celebrities, and politicians than tweeting on our own?

According to Rensin, "for a millennial, heaven is other people. Hell is becoming an island, cut off from others by an iPhone left at home." We are not the "Me Me Me" generation, but a "We" generation, one that desires a "pure, interdependent society," an innate incompatibility with isolation.

But Rensin, in this piece, does not defend against the criticisms of the older generations as much as he seeks to understand where the sentiment comes from. "Beneath the mutual something noble: the genuine desire to understand. This is a new crop of Americans, after all. What do their hearts look like?" It's no secret that scrolling our Facebook or Instagram feeds is a lesson in anxiety, a terror that is the "anxiety of seeing everything."

The circumstances of our generation aren't too different from our predecessors. What sets us apart, however, is "how uniquely aware" we are of what everyone else is doing, and particularly how much everyone else is succeeding. "The irony of the 'We generation' is that by giving everybody a voice, everybody has seen just how many voices there are." The fact that we see everything means that "it's impossible to digest them all." Instead, "we just feel the visceral weight of output. We say this is something to be cherished, but we know it is the thing that crushes, too."

The "Me" generation is actually something we strive for. It is no secret that social media is an unhealthy mechanism for comparison - look to a Facebook friend's latest hardship and think "oh, my life isn't that bad" or see your friend's latest accomplishment or job offer and realize your presence is relatively insignificant. "We know it might be nice to have a 'Me Generation," if only we could."

The world is made smaller by our advances in social media and our digital era - and sometimes being so fundamentally aware of what almost everyone is up to makes it claustrophobically overwhelming. Sometimes, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are, for better or worse, arenas of one-upmanship to see whose personal brand is superior to the next, is more popular than the next. The fundamental paradox of the millennial generation is this: how can we stand out when seemingly everyone stands out?

Although a mirage, wouldn't we be better off as a generation of narcissists, one that is self-assured of our independence and self-worth that we wouldn't have this need for comparison? "It might be nice to have a selfish space or blindness to the odds. We might like to be narcissists, if it weren't so hard in a world made small by those damn iPhones." Wouldn't it be nice to have life finally slow down.

Stein misunderstands the millennial generation, but started the conversation on what is in the hearts of millennial generation. The most egregious examples of our "narcissism," from Facebook profile pictures that change every other day to Instagram photos that conveniently staged - what is behind them?

I believe that our "narcissism" is a symptom of pir generation's need to react and rebel in the most quickly moving and anxious age in history. Life moves too fast - only yesterday we were two years younger, and tomorrow we will be five years older. And yet there is so much to do, catch up on, and become. I have 18 tabs open in the writing of this article of things I could check out and read. How many tabs of possibilities do you have open in your life, and what does it say about us that we aren't satisfied with just one?

The "we" generation exists in a condition of fundamental anxiety - because, for better or worse, we largely grow up with unmet expectations of institutions, from our government, economy, press, and even families and local communities that were supposed to be there for us but fell short, time and time again. And I'm not talking about mental health anxiety (which, conveniently, millennials do also have a problem with), but an anxiety knowing and experience, time and time again, things change faster than we'll ever be comfortable with, faster than we'll ever expect, faster than we'll ever be ready for.

And if we strive for narcissism and vanity because they are spaces that won't let us down, defense mechanisms we've donned to condition ourselves to survive, why wouldn't we try to turn to them in times we don't have much else?

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100 Ways To Practice Self-Care In Your Everyday Life, In 20 Minutes Or Less

Simple ways to start taking care of yourself.


Life is overwhelming and distracting so it's easy to forget about yourself sometimes, but practicing small self-care acts is easy. Making time for yourself every day isn't selfish and is really good for your mental health. I think it's important for everyone to spend time doing things that make them happy and more calm, even if you only dedicate 20 minutes each day. Putting yourself first can lead to growth so many other aspects of your life.

Obviously, each person is allowed to practice self-care in their own unique way, but here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Do something new. 

2. Make a list of things you need to get done that week. 

3. Drink some hot tea. 

4. Go for a walk on a scenic trail.

5. Paint your nails.

6. Have a good laugh.

7. Buy yourself flowers.

8. Light a candle.

9. Do some tidying up.

10. Don't feel bad for saying 'no.'

11. Listen to music.

12. Slow down.

13. Drink a smoothie.

14. Run mindless errands.

15. Write down your goals for the week.

16. Talk to someone about the future.

17. Wake up early and get coffee. 

18. Take care of a plant. 

19. Take a bubble bath. 

20. Give yourself a compliment.

21. Give a stranger a compliment.

22. Watch a movie.

23. Put your phone down.

24. Declutter your personal space.

25. Go to bed early. 

26. Pray or meditate. 

27. Go for a drive. 

28. Make it a habit to stargaze. 

29. Read a book. 

30. Read poems. 

31. Sing loudly. 

32. Make a list of things you're grateful for. 

33. Drink a lot of water. 

34. Put on make-up for no reason.

35. Watch funny videos. 

36. Take a deep breath. 

37. Distance yourself from negativity. 

38. Unfollow people you don't care to follow on social media. 

39. Have a pajama day. 

40. Read an inspirational book. 

41. Call your parents/ loved ones. 

42. Donate old clothing. 

43. Dedicate a day out of the week to not eating meat. 

44. Do a fun craft or DIY project. 

45. Put on a face mask and relax. 

46. Do a small workout. 

47. Take a power nap. 

48. Listen to a podcast. 

49. Open a window. 

50. Open your curtains in the morning to let in natural light. 

51. Make your bed. 

52. Cook dinner instead of eating out. 

53. Play/ cuddle with an animal. 

54. At the end of the day, think of all the positive things that happened.

55. Moisturize. 

56. Buy a comforting blanket. 

57. Give someone a hug. 

58. Create a vision board. 

59. Have some alone time.

60. Enjoy the sun on your skin. 

61. Dance like nobody is watching.

62. Walk in the rain every once in a while. 

63. Drive with the windows down. 

64. Give someone a gift for no reason. 

65. Get a massage. 

66. Do something that gets your adrenaline running. 

67. Spend the day at the library or a book store. 

68. Organize your work space/ binders. 

69. Spend a weekend in. 

70. Recognize hard work and reward yourself. 

71. Sign up for a work out class. 

72. Eat lunch with a friend. 

73. Spend the day helping others. 

74. Get your hair done. 

75. Have a good cry. 

76. Use sticky notes. 

77. Color code your planner. 

78. Print out pictures and hang them up. 

79. Hang motivational quotes on your mirror and read them when you get ready. 

80. Do random acts of kindness. 

81. Buy fuzzy socks. 

82. Redecorate or rearrange furniture. 

83. Be present. 

84. Set a new years resolution. 

85. Make a bucket list. 

86. Stretch in the morning. 

87. Watch an interesting documentary. 

88. Make a music playlist.

89. Watch the sunrise or sunset. 

90. Explore somewhere new.

91. Be slow to respond to negativity. 

92. Have a game night with friends. 

93. Buy concert tickets. 

94. Have a nightly routine before bed. 

95. Eat your favorite dessert. 

96. Do something you've been putting off. 

97. Invest in essential oils. 

98. Manage your finances. 

99. Buy a new outfit. 

100. Make your own gratitude list. 

Try at least one of these every week and see how you feel! I guarantee you will notice a difference in the way you are living your life.

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Self-Confidence And Self-Love Starts With Acceptance

There is no rulebook to self confidence, but it can be obtained and you should love yourself for who you are.


Even the loudest, most outgoing person can still struggle with self-confidence, there is no rulebook on how to be confident and comfortable in your own skin. Luckily, self-confidence comes from within and there are ways to start appreciating and coming to terms with yourself.

Self-confidence is such a broad term, but it means being comfortable and, well, confident with who you are as a human.

There is no clear cut way to obtain self-confidence, and I don't believe anyone really has it mastered, but there are some ways to start looking at yourself in a better light.

Although I am talkative, pretty outgoing, and overall confident with who I am, I still struggle with the idea of self-confidence. You look at people who seem as though they have it together and that their life is perfectly in order, but chances are they too struggle with some aspect of their life.

Confidence comes from within, once you learn that you are who you are meant to be and start accepting flaws for what they are, life gets that much easier.

Now, this is all easier said than done, how can someone be 100% confident in their own skin? Well, it all starts with you, if you want to be happy, confident, and secure with who you are, you need to learn how to accept.

People seem to feel the need to fake who they are in order to fit in or to change things in order to feel accepted but that change is temporary. You should never, ever have to change for another person. If someone doesn't like you for who you are then they clearly are not meant to be in your life.

Learn how to come to terms with your flaws. If you feel like you aren't good enough, or that you will never be able to obtain a certain goal, start changing your mindset. Self-confidence can be obtained through your mind and through how you feel about yourself.

Again, there is no rulebook to self-confidence but if you want to start to love yourself and feel that boost of confidence it must come from within and it must come from acceptance and ultimately you will start to learn how to accept yourself for who you are, not who others want you to be.

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