“I was raised up believing I was somehow unique / Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see. / And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be / A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.”
As a member of Gen Y, I can remember even as early as kindergarten, our teachers reinforced the idea that we were all special. “You’re unique!” “You can be anything you want to be!” “Work hard and you’ll reach your dreams!” Those ideals are not without merit, but reality is perhaps the greatest disappointment to millennials. As we grow older, we realize that our dream of becoming a famous actor isn’t as easy as we were raised to believe.
Perhaps the greatest triumph for millennials is shedding the desires of “self” and shifting our focus to the greater world around us and building communities. Everything changes when we focus on others instead of our own – sometimes selfish – desires. We’re taught in kindergarten about the importance of working together, but often, it isn’t until adulthood that we truly see the value of teamwork. As lead singer Robin Pecknold states in this song, he’d rather be a part of something bigger than himself rather than a “special snowflake.” He doesn’t know what his purpose in the big machine is yet, but he’s ready to work and find out.
And so am I.