According to the 12/4 Generational System, the “Ambitionist Generation” is made up of people born between 1985 and 1996. This is a very dominant, determined, strong-willed, and often aggressive generation whose thinking is extremely different from all previous generations. They are talented and learn fast, which they need because they are impatient. But perhaps the most important feature of this generation is that they have consistently been in the wrong place at the wrong time. And they are angry because of it. Today’s article tackles the upbringing of this generation and how things went off the rails, even before the Great Recession and the COVID Crisis.
As snow falls to the ground, each snowflake floats through different clouds at different temperatures and faces different winds and moisture levels, so each snowflake ends up unique. The slang term “snowflake”, which the older generations love using to refer to Ambitionists, originates from this idea of snowflake uniqueness. Colloquially, the term has become derogatory, referring to young adults who have unwarranted uniqueness, a strong sense of entitlement, an inability to deal with opposing opinions, and are easily offended.
But if an entire generation supposedly shares this trait, then part of it has to do with the generations that raised them. The parents of the Ambitionists mostly come from the Authoritarian (1949-1960) and Precisionist (1961-1972) Generations. The Authoritarians are a strong-willed generation for whom stability, predictability, empathy, and human relationships – especially personal relationships – are crucial. They think traditionally, and they are the types who think that age and experience alone should command respect. The Precisionists, in contrast, value degrees and professional experience over sheer connections. A strive for perfection is typical for this generation, as they try to do everything very accurately in their lives. Despite their differences, these generations share one thing in common: they really dislike the aggression of the Ambitionists.
Authoritarians and Precisionists love to bemoan the fact that Ambitionists grew up receiving “participation trophies”. So, when a young Ambitionist competed in a youth football league, even the losing teams would receive a trophy for having participated. This celebration of mediocrity was never for the children; after all, they weren’t the ones that were going out and buying the trophies. These trophies only existed because of the parents’ egos, who could not accept their child might be mediocre, or heaven forbid, below average.
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
The saying above is just one of many that Ambitionists grew up hearing. It is one of many that ended up being total nonsense when scrutinised. The economic realities brought about by the political and economic policies of the Precisionist and Authoritarian Generations meant that this advice was not only worthless, but it was also downright dangerous. So many young people grew up trying to “follow their dreams” by chasing ever-the-more-expensive prestige at elite universities. But when it came time to pay off their debts by entering the workforce, the opportunities available to them paled in comparison to the opportunities of previous generations. This reality became even harsher following the Great Recession, which we will cover in Part 2 of this series.