Two months ago, TIME published the Millennial-focused article and cover heard round the world. Well, maybe not so much round the world as all over social media and the blogosphere. My peers’ biggest issue with the story, or the two paragraphs of the article they read before the paywall kicked in, we got labeled as entitled (again). That article doesn’t need to get rehashed anymore, nor do we need to discuss millennial-specific entitlement, but I will tell you a little about my own entitlement.
For ten years of my life I was fortunate enough to experience the benefits of being an expatriate. For those unfamiliar with expats, we are people who leave our home country to live in another country for an extended period of time. This differs from immigrating to a new country because you are only going to be a temporary resident, in most cases. My family moved to Japan when I was ten and then to China when I was 16. One of the biggest perks of expat life were the travel opportunities. This is where my entitlement kicked in.
We were in a unique position to be sent overseas with a smaller company, so we received more attention than families being sent over with huge corporations. Perhaps it should also be a credit to my father’s intense negotiation skills, but we were granted first class tickets for our annual home leave trips. From frequent international business trips, my father had also amassed quite an impressive number of frequent flyer miles. In fact, I think George Clooney’s character from Up In The Air didn’t even have as many. Thanks to all these miles, my family tended to fly first class for many of our international excursions. Please remember this started when I was an impressionable ten year old.
By the time I’d turned into a hormonal-high-school teen, I’d visited almost 20 countries and would have frequent conversation with friends about the best airlines and most fun airports to have a layover. This, in my expat world, seemed normal.
In 2003 my family was off to Australia to celebrate the birth of Christ and ring in the New Year. As an irritable freshman I first put up a fuss that we were repeating a vacation destination by going to Australia, again. That was so last year. When we arrived at the airport, my Dad checked us in and handed over our tickets. I gasped in horror when I looked down to see economy class seats. With the spit and malice unique to teenage girls, I glared at my father and demanded to know why we were flying in coach.
“We aren’t flying in coach. Just you and your sister are,” he brusquely responded.
“WHAT?!” I screeched in a whispered scream. “Dad, you can’t make us fly coach. That’s child abuse.”
After that comment I’m lucky my Dad didn’t always seat me in the back of the plane, next to the bathroom, and pay a large man with a delicate digestive system to eat Indian food before boarding.
Money, power and luxury can do funny things to people. They can be a deadly combination that make you feel you are somehow always owed things in life instead of earning them. However, they aren’t the only factors that contribute to people feeling entitled. Frankly, most of us have entitlement issues. Whether you want to own up to them or not.
Now that I’m financially on my own, and routinely have to sit towards the back of the plane, I have shed the bratty travel entitlement of my youth. I’m ashamed of my childish comment, but also recognize how easy it would have been for me to become the type of millennial who feels my parents should be paying for my New York City apartment and still subsiding my lifestyle. By having my access to the Bank of Mom and Dad declined, it has helped me lose my entitlement and focus on how I can get back to first class. On my own this time.
41 responses to “Losing My Entitlement”
As someone who has never flown first-class, I laughed my ass off when you said coach was child abuse. Oh rational Erin, it’s nice to know you were an irrational teenager :).
Haha, thanks! I’m glad a lot of people seemed to have found the humor in my irrational comment.
At least you realized pretty young! I was 18 and thought I was doing my parents a “favor” by going to the college I received academic scholarship from… didn’t realize that I was the lucky one to be student loan free!
Coming out debt free truly is a blessing. It really gives you a sense of accomplishment when you’re scholarships or jobs helped finance your education. I feel the same way about my own.
Hey Erin, great post! I am glad to see that you battled entitlement and have grown up. Very cool that you were able to fly first class!
I have, too, battled with entitlement. I felt that I was entitled to a well-paying job when I graduated and it crippled me when I didn’t get one. I am still battling the after effects of failure. I have always felt not entitled in regards to money, but I definitely have a sense of entitlement when it comes to college and education. It is interesting to be slapped in the face of reality, but it is a good slap in the face. 🙂
That’s what I’m battling now Michelle. It’s a rude awakening knowing a degree is not worth much.
Even when you have a decent job, it is a bitter slap when you aren’t making as much money as you thought, or as quickly as you assumed it would happen. Even hard work doesn’t entitle you to success. It’s a tough lesson to learn.
I led a pretty entitled childhood as well. Funny how life humbles you once the parentals push you out of the nest huh?
Incredibly. But I am grateful I was pushed out of the nest and not coddled into my adulthood. It would have been the eventual cut off much harder.
Me, entitled? No way! 😉
Great post Erin. I suppose life will come full circle if one day your kids demand to be flown in 1st class.
Well if their grandparents spoil them in 1st then I anticipate that’ll be an issue sooner or later!
That’s pretty funny regarding economy class seats as torture! It’s nice to have parents be the Federal Reserve backstop to take care of you just in case something goes wrong on your own. I wonder if that backstop is what helps folks who do have means get ahead even if they don’t depend on their parents anymore? Or, is it a cripple where one doesn’t try as hard b/c they have a safety net?
Here’s hoping you can afford the $10,000 roundtrip first class ticket to Asia soon!
Honestly, I think it entirely depends on the person and his or her work ethic. Yes, it will be easier for me to take a major financial risk and risk failure because I know it wouldn’t bankrupt my parents if they had to loan me money for survival. I also know peers who will just coast because they know they’ll inherit a business or a large trust fund. I don’t ask my parents for money and would feel incredibly uncomfortable needing a loan, but I do know it’s an option. That knowledge does make my ability to take risks to get ahead a bit easier. If I wasted my money on shopping sprees and flying first class, you best bet I wouldn’t be getting a loan from the parents though.
Definitely depends on the person that’s true.
I will take the positive side and say that if I had wealthy parents as my backstop, I would take more risks, go for glory, and try harder to see if I can match their stature.
This may sound strange but I’m almost glad to see a typical teenage entitled response from you! I know that my girls have a very, very good life that my husband and I have worked very hard to create. I can see kids around them take their good life for granted. I try my best to balance that and remind them to be grateful for what we have and to know it doesn’t just happen either. Some day they will leave home and I don’t want them to fall flat on their face as I have seen many entitled kids do once they go out on their own. But to soar and create a good life for themselves, just like you are doing.
Thank you, Shannon. That means a lot. And it’s not strange. I think a lot of readers enjoy when I disclose my bratty, childhood tendencies.
It seems you’re raising your girls to be forces to be reckoned with when their time comes.
Erin left out the part that we broke up the trip in Singapore and spent a few days there before heading onto Australia. I figured that my kids could suffer through a six hour flight on Singapore Airlines followed by three nights in a five star “recuperating” before a longer but still less than ten hour flight to Australia also on Singapore Airlines. Erin’s little sister only cared that the games and movies in economy where the same as in the front of the plane.
How fun! Yet another life lesson you got free of charge just by growing up abroad. Ah, the things we take for granted
The last international flight I got to take in first was incredibly bittersweet.
Really great message Erin. Growing up my family road-tripped a lot to see family across the US and I’d always complain how long the trips were as I couldn’t wait to hang out with my cousins. I could get really bratty with my dad and at one time convinced him to dump the excursion through Hoover Dam as all I wanted to do was be in California hanging with my favorite cousins. It’s not like my dad wanted to see Hoover Dam himself or anything! We all experience entitlement as young adults, it’s only when we realize as adults how bratty we were that we know we’re on the right track. Remember, our frontal lobes weren’t fully formed so that is partly the reason for our irrational behavior.
I’ll have to use the frontal lobe excuse in future posts! You should take a family trip to the Hoover Dam now for penance. You’ll probably all enjoy it now too.
You might also like this article from Forbes: “http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/07/23/20-things-20-year-olds-dont-get/
Thanks! I’ve seen this one (and got sent it a few times). I strongly agree with the point about not viewing social media as a career and of course the spending 25% less than you make. I might up the ration a bit more depending on people’s cost of living.
Haha! That is a pretty bad one! But we were all teens once and spoiled/entitled in one way or another. Sometimes I do feel like our generation is taking a little longer to grow out of that entitled phase, though. You know those Sprint commercials…”I have the RIGHT to be unlimited?” They make me gag.
I have never seen those commercials! (I also don’t have cable). I’ll have to YouTube them.
It’s totally different when you’re the one paying for the plane ticket, isn’t it? I never pay for first class…it’s totally not worth it.
Those 14 hour+ hauls from China/Japan to the US are pretty rough in coach. Maybe one day I can get the kind of miles my Dad has and just use those to upgrade!
I’ve never ridden in first class, and maybe that’s a good thing hearing how terrible coach sounded to you after riding in first class for so long?!? Haha but that’s really interesting to hear about how your upbringing as an expat influenced your thinking towards things like coach. I would have never guessed you EVER had that opinion from what I know about you so far.
Well at least I seem like a not so entitled person now! It seemed to be a jaw-dropper for my friends who read this post too. I don’t mind coach for short flights, but anything over 4 hours as me crying for my childhood.
Now I know the back story about all the great places traveled to! I have to say I have yet to fly in first class, but it does look pretty awesome. When it comes to your comment about having to fly economy as torture, it’s pretty common that if you are accustomed to something and it is “downgraded” or changed you will notice and not want the change. There are a lot of us millenials who I don’t think could actually admit that they had acted “entitled” and clearly adapted and changed. Great post!
Thank you! Trust me, I’d love to still be riding in first but obviously it isn’t practical for me to shell out that kind of money. We certainly all of our entitlements and they are important to recognize and deal with.
Great story! I think too many people never lose their entitlement. I know I had some ridiculous perks growing up as well, like living in France, that I just took for granted. It’s not until you experience real life for a while that you can start to earn back some humility points.
To a degree, I think it can also be a motivating factor. Because my parents don’t financially support me, I’m motivated to one day achieve the same lifestyle I grew up accustomed to.
Wow, that is quite the story. At least you’ve gained perspective and appreciation as an adult, I feel like some people go their entire lives without a reality check.
I never felt entitled growing up because of money but I think I did feel entitled when I was in university because I grew up believing not everyone would get a degree thus making it easier for me to get a better job and make more money than people who didn’t go to university. Then I graduated and realized nowadays everyone has a degree and I’m not that special.
This will be a critical mindset to keep when you are no longer broke.
At least you learned early on you were a brat rather than going through life thinking it owed you a living 🙂
“I’m lucky my Dad didn’t always seat me in the back of the plane, next to the bathroom, and pay a large man with a delicate digestive system to eat Indian food before boarding.”
Bravo! Bravo! You have officially won my vote and my comedic love having written what I consider to be one of the funniest lines in the history of all blogs. I have to say you are the first blogger to have made me laugh this hard. I think what really took this post to the another comedic level was the word “delicate” .