A second theme related to the theme of drive is a dichotomy between anxiety and empowerment. In order to be considered either anxious or empowered, respondents meet the following criteria:

Those who are anxious always or usually feel:

  • “afraid to fail,”
  • “anxious about important decisions” and
  • “uncertain about the future.”

Those who are empowered always or usually feel:

  • “able to accomplish my goals,”
  • “satisfied with my life choices,”
  • “someone believes in me,”
  • “prepared for everyday life,”
  • “optimistic about the future” and
  • “deeply cared for by those around me.”

About one in four members of Gen Z meets the criteria for empowered (25%) or anxious (26%). Their inherent desire for success and the accompanying weight of expectations seem to push them toward one of two extremes—anxiety or empowerment—or, for a small percentage (5%), some fusion of these seemingly incongruent emotions.

Will they falter beneath the weight of their ambitions and dreams? Or can empowered, empowering parents and mentors offer support systems that give steadiness to Gen Z’s drive? Their ambitious mindset distinguishes them as a generation and should be both cultivated and continually recalibrated as they set their course for a healthy adulthood.


About the Research
Interviews for this study were conducted using an online consumer panel of 1,503 U.S. teens and young adults ages 13 to 21 between June 15 and July 17, 2020. Quotas and minimal weighting were used to ensure data are representative of known U.S. Census ethnicity, gender, age and region. Margin of error is ±2.53 percent.

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