As a member of Generation X, I am generationally jealous. This doesn’t mean I am jealous of the ‘Babyboomers’ with their huge pensions and second homes, no I am jealous of the Millennials, the teenagers and 20 somethings who are currently making their way in the world.
This is not a bitter older woman rueing lost youth, a clear, unwrinkled skin or absence of grey hair; what I am actually jealous of is that generation’s sense of purpose and moral awareness.
I am reminded of this almost daily, because of my day job. I write for a number of hockey publications, which constantly brings me into contact with high-achieving youngsters. Just this week, I spent two fantastic days at Bisham Abbey, the home of the Great Britain and England hockey teams, where King’s Lynn-born Danny Kerry, pictured above, is the gold-medal winning coach.
Over that period of time, I spoke to two Scottish players who spend two days a week training at Bisham Abbey, just outside London.
One of them, a 19 year old, then travels up to Birmingham University, where she is training to be a psychologist; she spends her evenings catching up on missed lectures or doing her fitness training, before playing for her club team at the weekend and then travelling back to London on Sunday night to re-join the national training squad.
Another player, at the ripe old age of 24, has a gold medal from Rio. One week after returning from Brazil, she was at her desk taking up a position as a trainee solicitor.
If she was invited on one of the many Rio-connected events, it was always after work in the evening – she hasn’t missed a day’s work since her return and her gold medal is still in its box in her parent’s house.
Between them, the gold medal winning team have made an average of 85 visits each to schools, clubs, businesses and other organisations, since their return from Rio. As one, they believe it is their duty to ‘inspire a generation’. Well this member of another generation is inspired.
But closer to home, I get the same feeling – it is an uncomfortable feeling of inadequacy. When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time, well, just messing around. When I was at university, I did a lot of partying, even my first few jobs showed a certain amount of flippancy towards the serious side of life.
Now, I constantly meet young people who are always surprising me with their endeavours and their earnest belief in doing the right thing. A friend’s daughter is heavily involved in charity work for Action on Hearing Loss; two others have recently returned from working for a charity in west Africa.
This is the generation who will struggle to own a home; will probably find themselves on zero hours contracts; and whose parents and grandparents have whipped EU membership away. I hope they are not just a giving generation, but a forgiving one too.