Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
Recently on vacation, I was enjoying a glorious week on the beach with family and friends and was planning to take the whole week off doing nothing, except of course cooking, cleaning up after others, and washing yet another load of beach towels. Every day I ventured to the food market, which was in close proximity to our rented beach house for needed items. The food market employs high school students, who do not seem to do much work unless asked. And, all of them are constantly on their phones and seem quite annoyed when a customer is in their midst. Welcome to Generation Z; those born between 1996 to 2010.
While at the checkout one of the mornings, the cashier reluctantly puts down her cell phone to ring me up, and I am one of those annoying customers that likes to watch that they don’t double charge me since they don’t really seem to be paying much attention to the task at hand. Anyway, after I am rung up, I begin bagging the groceries, MYSELF, since Princess had to attend to her phone AGAIN and respond to a most urgent text I’m sure. Out of three bags of merchandise, she literally put in two items. I paid and was about to grab my bags when Princess turned to me and said in her sweetest soprano voice, “Would you care to leave a tip?” pointing to a large coffee can that read Tips for College.
Now I am all for tipping when deserved, but this girl barely looked at me and did the bare minimum at a job she is getting paid to do, then had the gall to ask for a tip.
What I wanted to say to her was: life isn’t about just showing up. This generation known as Gen Z are the first generation to be born into a completely digital age, hence the name “digital natives” according to a New York Times article from 2015 by Alex Williams. They certainly have more distractions than any other generation before them. The pressure to succeed and go to college is higher than ever before and these Z’s can almost simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on Instagram and talk on the phone, all from the user-friendly interface of their iPhone.
According to that NY Times article, Generation Z takes in information instantaneously and loses interest just as fast. And having a Gen Z in my own household, I wonder about the future work ethic of Gen Z’s and their future in relationships. After all, who do they have as their social media role models - the Kardashians?
There's a quote by Woody Allen that says: "Eighty percent of success is just showing up." But what about the other 20 percent? The other 20 percent of success largely depends on what you're showing up for. Anybody can be on time for work, attend school, join a team, have a boyfriend or girlfriend, but it takes much more to be successful in life and in relationships.
In a relationship, just showing up will clearly rear its ugly head by your lack of connection and lack of substance between you and your partner. Relationships require some effort after the initial must have each other every minute stage begins to dissipate. This stage is also known as the romance stage and usually lasts anywhere from two months to two years. This is by far the most exciting stage in a courtship or relationship. This is when you and your partner have just met, and everything is absolutely amazing. You can't get enough of each other. Neither of you can do any wrong in the eyes of the other... mainly because you're both still on your best behavior. The focus in this stage is on commonalities - you have so many common interests; you could practically be the same person! In fact, I bet you have often told each other that. Haven’t you?
Though I digress, the point here is that not much effort is needed since the attraction is kicking in strongly and just showing up still works. But after the attraction weans and conflicts start to emerge, just showing up is not good enough. Disillusionments, power struggles, lack of communication all start rolling on in, and unless you have the will power to be a participant in your relationship and your life, your relationships, like most other aspects of your life, will not get past the romance stage.
I have a teenage daughter and I see that though she works extremely hard in school, she still seems inherently lazy and needs a gentle nudge when it comes to other aspects of her life, quite similar to the teens in the food market. Will this generation, who are the true digital natives and have grown up communicating digitally more than verbally, be able to sustain a true relationship as in past generations? The answer is obviously an unknown since the eldest members are barely out of high school, but time will most certainly tell. Perhaps relationships for Gen Z’s will undergo a transformation and become more digital, even when face to face. Either way, I believe you still have to show up.
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