There’s been a surge of posts against millenials. If your social media feed looking anything like mine, you saw this woman dissing millenials shared by multiple people. It’s fine. We’re used to it. Heck, we’ve been the butt of people’s jokes or blamed for all the world’s problems since the early 2000’s. We’re entitled, yet we’re broke. We’re budding entrepreneurs, yet we have no work ethic. We are paving the way of technology, yet we don’t know how to cope without our phones. We are the future, but we’re terrible people.
And you wonder why our generation has such high anxiety.
Well, I have something to say about that.
GET OFF OUR BACKS!!
I am a part of the generation defined as millenial. And you know what, I work damn hard. Since college I have worked anywhere from 1-3 jobs at a time so that I could pay all my own bills. And I know a lot of other millenials who are busting ass too. Sure there are some that give our generation a bad rap. But I’ve also met, even managed, my share of busy-body boomers and let me just say, you’re not a peach to be around all the time either.
So to my fellow millenials who are trying to pave their own path in a pessimistic world, let me share with you what I’ve learned coming down the pike so that you can know in your very gut that you are seen, you are worth listening to, and you will survive all the crap people say about you on the internet. And most importantly, I believe in you.
Truth: Life is messy.
No matter how old you are, that’s a fact. We’re led to believe that as we age, we get wiser. We expect that things won’t be as difficult to figure out in adulthood– that we’ll be more confident in our abilities, that we’ll learn to love our bodies and wish we hadn’t shamed them so much when we were young. And while all that is true, we absolutely gain perspective and experience, life can still be just as confusing as it was before.
Life is messy, even as an adult.
We all deal with setbacks in our lives. Didn’t get in the program you wanted to, didn’t win the contest, didn’t get the job, didn’t get the boy/girl. We don’t know when these hardships will hit us. We don’t know how we’ll respond. We just have to do our best and hope we come out stronger.
When we are in the midst of a dilemma, it feels all consuming. We lose sleep worrying about the what if’s, we stress eat all the chocolate in the house. But once we’re past the unknowing stage of things, it turns into the Lord Voldemort of life lines – “that period that shall not be named.”
I, like so many millenials, believed that by the time I turned 30, I’d “have it all figured out.” That is just not the case.
But what I have learned is that’s completely ok.
So don’t let the negative things they say about our generation dictate your life. You are the main character in your own story.
Remember You Can Always Start Over
One of the most positive things to come out of the millenial generation is our abundant optimism. My parents’ generation was hard set in the belief that you worked for one place until retirement and that was that. For millenials, that’s just not the case. We are the generation that exemplifies multiple careers and life experience. We change our jobs, we take time off to travel and we work from home as needed. We are paving a new kind of entrepreneurship and that’s fucking exciting.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
That expectation to “have it all figured out” is the greatest barrier to actually doing so. Who cares if the girl next to you makes life look easier? You never know what others are dealing with when they leave the office. You never know what the story of a relationship is except the one you’re in. So don’t spend your time imagining impossible scenarios around you that make you feel less than. Be hardcore. Be your best self.
Never Stop Learning
Think about your favorite teachers and mentors you had in school. What made them inspiring, trustworthy and encouraging? I bet one of their skillsets was listening to you and treating you as someone with valuable ideas and talents. Reflect that back into the world. Never stop learning from those around you, whether it’s an older coworker who’s been in the business longer or your five your old niece who colors outside the lines. Being open to the things others can teach you, will help you be a better listener, learner, and teacher too.
Live in the Moment
It’s far too easy to beat yourself up over age timelines. You know you’ve made them. “By the time I’m 30, I will…” It’s great to set goals, you should do that. But don’t forget to live in the moment. Your goals need to be realistic and manageable. Wanting to be a famous singer by the time you’re 25 isn’t going to happen if you’re going to school, practicing intermittently, and too scared to sing on stage. You’ve got to do the work now that will pay off later. The good part? That means making mistakes. Yes, make them! Try new things, push yourself, and learn to strengthen your skills.
Take Stock of Your Successes
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at accepting compliments on my work. I want them, sure, but I’m also my own worst critic and quick to downgrade the successes I’ve had. One of the best things I ever did when I first started blogging was to write down three things I had learned or accomplished each day. It was too easy to focus on what others were achieving and pressuring myself that I wasn’t good enough. By recording my learning moments and accomplishments along the way, I changed my focus to how much I was growing and that I was headed in the right direction, even if I wasn’t getting there as fast as I wanted to. I was still making progress, still moving forward. Don’t be your worst critic, be your best advocate.
Life is and always will be messy.
The good news is we have the power to shape our perspective on it. We don’t get to choose when setbacks come or how they’ll hit us. We don’t get to choose what society says about our generation. But we have a choice in how we respond. And with any luck, and a lot of time, all the junk we go through will just be “that period that shall not be named” and we will be bigger badasses for it.
Hey Millenials! You’re awesome!
As one who never lived up to her parents’ dream of changing the world, wasn’t enlightened enough for the 60s, groovy enough for the 70s, couldn’t get 80s big hair if I stuck my fingers in a wall socket, too ready to act for the 90s…
I hear you! There is no perfect generation. We’re all just trying to do the best we can in a world that shifts and grows with us and yet desperately wants to stay ‘comfortable’ and the same…. the same good things, even the same bad things (those are MY bad things and they are the best bad things–those bad things you’re bringing in are too darned scary!).
Haters gonna hate… just live your life proudly
Well keep on keeping on, Eden! If you’re following your passions, then you’re doing it right! Live proudly!
Right on Eden! Millennial or not, life sucks sometimes. It’s really hard and because some of us are older doesn’t mean we have it all figured out. Hell no. Just when you think you’ve got it covered, then life changes and you have to start all over again. How many people today can you think of that’s had the same job their whole life? That simply isn’t the norm anymore. So all of us, young or old need to be adaptable, keep current and willing to make the necessary changes that will keep us viable and valuable in today’s world. So I say, stop picking on the Millennials! Young or old, it doesn’t matter, we’re all to blame if we want to play that game. But let’s not and say we did. (I like to cover all the bases.) 🙂
I think this is becoming much more common place too. I know far too many women in their 40s and 50s who are having to make major career changes or other life transitions. And much of what I hear in the arts fields involve people working a “side hustle” or day job – a security to allot for things like health insurance and retirement planning, in addition to following their creative pursuits. That’s the boat I’ve been in for years. It’s not easy, but it’s doable, and so many bestselling authors have spoken about this at conferences that you don’t want to quit your job right away. There are perks to finding a manageable balance of both worlds.
This is why stereotypes are ridiculous. I’ll admit to a certain bit of Gen X snobbery, but you are living proof that plenty of Millennials are bright, articulate, and driven to succeed. You WILL succeed – you already have!
Well, Gen X-ers are the cool kids. I’d sit with you in the lunchroom. And my unwavering love of all films with Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder has nothing to do with it. Nothing whatsoever. Ok, actually that has a lot to do with it.
I just get really frustrated when I’m inundated with messages about how my generation is apathetic and disrespectful and lazy. Um, no, I don’t think that’s true of the majority of my generation. But we are doing things differently.
That being said, I would be perfectly fine if grunge and garage bands came back into style. I just really like my Singles soundtrack.
Great piece, Jess. I am guilty of millennial-bashing from time to time when I get frustrated with my kids and their friends. I will think twice next time they do something millennial-ish! LOL. 🙂
Gracias, Chica! I’m sure they will appreciate that! I know I’m thankful when adults take time to teach me things but are open to change or new ways as well.
Love this post! I have just started trying to figure out my own happiness project! Feel free to come check me out. I use to bash the millennials myself but then I realized I am categorized with them, and suffer from some of their pitfalls.
This is a wonderful, uplifting post, thank you so much for putting it out there