The Plight of Potential
Embracing Solitude in Millennial Life and Modern Work
Having grown up in a hyperconnected world, millennials are pressured by a lingering feeling that no matter their achievements, they can always do more. Conventional wisdom suggests that individuals should create and maintain their “personal brands” and continuously improve themselves, so that they can compete in a world that favors the most entrepreneurial and networked. Exacerbating these pressures are endless millennial success stories and “best-of” lists, educational systems that increasingly view their primary roles as creating “adaptable” and “skilled” workers, and a growing belief that in order to succeed, individuals must position themselves strategically in a rapidly changing world. But these trends only promote anxiety and psychological fatigue, hindering the cultivation of a long view in lives and careers. Individuals are drawn away from themselves, losing the spaces for solitude that are necessary for honest selfunderstanding. In "The Plight of Potential", Emerson Csorba, blending scholarly research with first-hand experience based on his work on intergenerational engagement, discusses how millennials can recapture a sense of control in their lives through time and space for solitude. This requires that individuals sometimes resist pressures to constantly connect and share, and in place of this embrace their limitedness despite society’s emphasis on growth and potential.