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!
I don’t fit.
According to the “scientists” at Buzzfeed, I don’t fit anywhere. Specifically, Buzzfeed experts told me I’m “the Jan Brady of generations.”
See that Buzzfeed? That’s my Jan Brady side eye telling you to watch your step from now on.
But I get it. I really don’t fit in. I’m neither Generation X nor Y. I am somewhere in between.
I can’t really blame Buzzfeed. I mean, here’s just a smattering of the data they had to work with…
Things That Make Me Somewhat Generation X
- I played with Popples and Pogs as a kid
- I listened to En Vogue and Smashing Pumpkins
- I wore a lot of side ponies, stirrup legging pants, and curled my bangs (picture it, I’m HOT)
- I was spanked and hit with a wooden spoon (and no one could’ve cared less)
- I typed my school papers on a word processor (that I believe was possessed by the Devil – but that’s for another blog post…)
- I downloaded songs on Napster
- I had a MySpace page
- I watched movies like Reality Bites and Singles and The Truth About Cats and Dogs over and over again…on VHS
- I had an email that ended in @magicfishfood.com (WTF? really?? Yes, really.)
Things That Make Me Somewhat Generation Y
- I want all the things and I want them now
- I like Taylor Swift songs and Katy Perry songs
- I had a Tamagatchi pet
- All my school supplies were decorated in Lisa Frank artwork
- I want all the things and I want them now
- I grew up with computers in my school
- I had a plethora of beanie babies
- I now share my entire life on social media and I like taking selfies
- I got my best fashion advice from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (let’s talk butterfly clips, shall we?)
- I owned about 100 Dr Pepper Lip Smacker chapsticks over the course of my early teen years
- I want all the things and I want them now – (Seriously, where are all my things? Shouldn’t I have them by now? Ugh…waiting sucks.)
So, what am I?
Fuck, I am the Jan Brady of Generations.
I was born smack in the middle of the 80’s, as an oops baby no less, which means I was raised by my Gen X siblings while my Baby Boomer parents worked all day and only had enough energy to instill two rules. 1) Say please and thank you around all grown ups. 2) Drink coca cola. (But I’m partially Gen Y, so I rebelled and prefer Pepsi when given the choice.)
Now that I’m an adult, I look around at who my friends are, and apart from the handful of High School chums I still see around major holidays, my two best friends are exactly the same ages as my older sister and brother. How weird is that? That I picked the exact number of years in age gap as what I grew up with? This sets my besties firmly in Gen X. That means I can count on them to throw a super rad 80’s party, to never being afraid of playing with eyeshadow, and to tell me when it’s appropriate to cuff or not cuff one’s pants. (Of course, I’m part Gen Y so they’ve gotten use to me documenting all of this.)
I can’t claim total belonging to just one group, but I can claim just enough of the good stuff to make me believe that I’ll always have someone talk to. And that I won’t have to eat my lunch from the inside of a bathroom stall. And I think that’s winning.
How about you? What generation do you fit in?
Let the experts at Buzzfeed be your guide.