Let’s reflect on our entitlement

Entitlement: a sense of superiority or the expectation for special treatment.

Our generation has been given many labels: lazy, narcissistic, entitled. There have been so many discussions about our entitled personalities that some researchers have made millennials and entitlement the focus of their studies. In fact, The Daily this week featured an article titled “Entitlement – a damning recipe for happiness,” highlighting research done at Case Western Reserve University on the consequences of being entitled. It also mentions how millennials have greater sense of entitlement than generations before them, another fact supported by studies.

The way in which we use social media is evidence in itself, evidently. Our creation of the selfie, our tendency to broadcast every thought and event of our lives on social media platforms and our obsession with success, fame and money reflect a narcissistic image. Generations before us see us as immature. While they are used to doing things without expecting much back, our generation is self-focused. We always ask: What’s in it for me?

The word entitlement implies that we don’t want to work for what we desire. But after all the work that our predecessors have done to provide us with the American dream, to give us the means to afford college, to pass civil rights legislation—are we not entitled to expect better? We’re still willing to work for what we know we deserve, and we know certain situations shouldn’t continue to occur—debt shouldn’t cripple us, people shouldn’t be shot in the streets and islamophobia shouldn’t win a candidate votes.

The world is always changing. Our generation was left with the memory and consequences of Sept. 11, constant terrorist attacks and security breaches, an upcoming—and troubling—presidential election, a competitive workplace and debt. Lots and lots of debt.

With all of this stress, how can anyone blame us for feeling like we deserve better? In healthy doses, entitlement is just what we need, and it isn’t just a characteristic—it’s a coping mechanism for the scary world that we live in. And, if anything, it’s helped us more than hurt us.

This year, BusinessInsider named CWRU one of the thirty intense colleges that “Work Hard, Play Hard.” Our university also continues to be a top institution in research, engineering and medicine. In general, students here are known to be motivated and fearless. Our sense of worth may be given to us, but our accomplishments aren’t. Because we know that we are worth it, we work for what we want.

The dynamic of our community here at CWRU is the definition of hard work. You only have to look at the floors of our library and buildings around campus to see that students are working, studying and improving themselves nonstop. Our hard work is so rampant that countless Observer articles —and an editorial published this semester—emphasize how we actually need to relax.

We recognize that a sense of entitlement often incorporates a sense of superiority. Applying this term to every millennial, however, is inaccurate. It makes a sweeping generalization about a group of people who come from a multitude of backgrounds. Many of us have parents that worked very hard to give us the opportunities in front of us, but we do not take these opportunities for granted.

It’s the self-confidence, in fact, that makes us sure of this. And it’s the self-confidence that has helped us keep up with the world that we live in.