People like to crap on our generation. They call us narcissistic, apathetic and lazy.
But, above all else, it seems, they call us entitled.
We expect instant gratification. We live for the applause, applause, applause, Lady Gaga style. We feel like we can and should get everything we want when we want it — regardless of whether or not we’ve actually earned it.
Now, I’m not one to shit on an entire generation, especially considering every generation is responsible for its fair share of screw ups (I’m looking at you, Baby Boomers) but entitlement is an issue worth discussing, regardless.
It’s worth discussing because, at the end of the day — like it or not — you’re not entitled to shit. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it’s an important one.
I got to thinking about this pesky entitlement bug a few weeks ago when I was going out with the best friend.
Look out: story time ahead.
We were at a very popular LGBT establishment, having a delightfully uneventful night. It was the kind of night that is just pleasant. A night where nothing too crazy happens, and you end up spending a few great hours talking about nothing and everything with a close friend.
We took a seat outside, toward the entrance/exit. Suddenly, an attractive young man approached. It instantly became clear that he was there to hit on my best friend.
Let it be said here and now that I love flirting; it’s the best. However, it’s only the best when both people are into it. My best friend was most definitely not into it. This young man in front of him was attractive, sure, but he was certainly not someone my friend would go for. The worst part? The guy knew that.
One of the first things he did was call out my friend for not being attracted to him. “Clearly you’re not into me,” he said. Shockingly, this did not stop him from pursuing my friend. Quite the opposite, really. He seemed to take it as a challenge. He continued to flirt and touch my friend, seemingly ignoring the fact that his attraction was not reciprocated.
It wasn’t until later that I realized how huge a part entitlement played in this unfortunate scenario. To this WeHo gallivanter, nothing seemed out of reach — even another person. He wanted, therefore he expected.
Here’s the thing, y’all. You’re not entitled to shit. He was not entitled to shit. He was not entitled to sex. He was not entitled to a date. He was not entitled to a flirtatious smile. He was not entitled to shit.
About a week or so later my journey down the entitlement rabbit hole continued when there was a development between me and a certain woman in my life. This woman and I — though we share strong feelings for each other — are not together for reasons that are complicated and wholly valid.
Several times in the course of a few days, friends would ask why this woman and I are not a couple. I would tell them some of the reasons — the ones I felt comfortable sharing — and without fail, every single time, I would be hit with a “But maybe if you tried –“, or “How about you do this –“, or “I just feel like if you explained –.”
Why? Because I’m not entitled to shit.
How I feel about this woman is not her responsibility. She is not required to change anything about herself to try to be with me. My feelings are on me. They are not on her. She has no obligation to do anything. And I’m not going to ask her to.
You guessed it. I’m not entitled to shit.
It’s a tough one, that’s for sure. This is the time of fast food, Tinder and online shopping. We can get what we want when we want it. But does that make us entitled to anything?
On a consumer level, I suppose it does. If you’re willing to spend $4.54 on an iced Chai from Starbucks, I suppose you’re entitled to that delicious Indian godsend. If you buy tickets to a John Fogerty show, you’re entitled to hear him sing about “a bathroom on the right” during the last moments of “Bad Moon Rising.” If you sign up to give Netflix a hundred bucks a year, you are most definitely entitled to marathon “Parks and Rec” in between seasons of “House of Cards.” You marathon your little heart out. Go big. Reach for the stars.
On the other hand — on an interpersonal level — say it with me, kids: You’re not entitled to shit.
Your fellow humans do not need to do anything for you, aside from treat you with respect, dignity and equality. Expecting something from someone else for no other reason than you thinking you’ve somehow deserved it opens us up to issues of consent, manipulation and coercion.
Plus, if you’re not expecting anything, you can only ever be pleasantly surprised, right?