Were you raised to expect career success, fortune, and fame to come your way right after college? Or maybe you expected that, by age 30, you’d find the perfect partner who magically satisfied your every want and need?
If so, chances are you’re a millennial. And even if you weren’t waiting to become the next Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey, you’ve likely experienced some serious disappointment when life didn’t turn out exactly as planned.
Experts agree that the high hopes and heightened ambition of the millennial generation have led many of us to despair, depression, high anxiety, and a wide gulf of meaning in our personal lives. Yet as pessimistic as that sounds, there is some good news: That unbridled optimism that set our egos up to eat pavement could be precisely what enables us to secure a more stable footing in the long run.
First, some background: “Many of our parents believed that propping our self-esteem up was the key to ensuring we survived middle and high school,” says Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before. We can’t exactly fa…