A Positive Message For Millenials: Life is Messy. But I Believe in You.
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!
Life is Hard, and Flossing Won’t Help
This blog is called Jess Witkins’s Happiness Project. You probably come here for tips on happiness, or to laugh at the stupid things I do in attempt to achieve it, thereby making yourself feel better about life. That is fine.
But sometimes, I’m not happy.
Sometimes I’m pissed off or stressed out or emotionally unstable. Often when I’m hungry. Which is why my fiance thinks I need this shirt…
I think my writer pal, Myndi Shafer, said it best:
Life is fucking hard.
Myndi wrote an honest blog post about feeling low in life, and I’m so glad she did, because I needed to hear that I wasn’t alone.
I’m known for being a really positive person and finding the humor in situations out of one’s control. But recently, it feels like everything is out of control. Which is scary because I’m a control freak!
We all go through chapters in our lives where things are out of balance or in transition. I just happen to be dealing with a few big ones all at once.
I don’t know about you guys, but I seem to be placing my coping skills in the weirdest of places too. For example, I feel like I have no control over the things in my life, so I’ve taken to controlling my fiance’s. Specifically, his healthcare.
Here are things I said in the last week that I never thought I would say. Ever.
–“You should floss tonight. We ate poppyseeds.”
-“Did you take more echincea? You really should if your throat is sore.”
-“I told you NOT TO BLOW YOUR NOSE SO HARD! You’re inflaming your nasal passages! God!”
Bless his congested little heart for putting up with me.
I know things will get better. My brain cells tell me this is so. But my soul is still unsure and spends way too much time worrying.
Know what I mean?
P.S. Free vitamins and neti pots all around.
How NaNoWriMo Became a NaNoNoGo
I failed. Short and simple. NaNoWriMo whupped my butt this year.
The fact of the matter is I had too much on my plate, and while I made a go of things the first two weeks, it became a no-go after that.
Here’s What Did Work:
- Writing. Just getting the words out and creating some new ideas.
- Waking up Early. Early starts where I timed my writing and made a word count goal were beneficial. I learned that with focus I can easily manage 500 words in 15 minutes using writeordie.com.
- Write-ins. I was able to attend two local write ins and they provided the caffeine and social support to keep going until word goal was met.
Here’s What Didn’t Work:
- My Pre-planning. I work as a sales manager in retail, and we were planning Black Friday and Christmas Events in October. If I was smart, I’d have also been making a NaNo plan and outline to ensure I knew what and when I would be writing each day.
- My Stubbornness. I read and commented and emailed several bloggers who all limited their posts for this month so they could devote more writing time to NaNo. I respected and well understood all of their decisions. Should have made that same decision, but I had to be the golden child who can do everything: blog, NaNo, WWBC, Author Branding class, Book Club, maintain 60+ hour job, family, friends, personal sanity…oh yah, crash and burn.
- Trying to do two things at once. I was hoping I could get work done for my Warrior Writers Boot Camp Team while doing NaNo, but either I wouldn’t make word count cause I thought too hard and kept editing, or I made word count but felt I let my story run in a direction I wasn’t sure I wanted to maintain. I almost would have been better doing two separate projects here. I’d advise using NaNo to just explore a story idea and keep the WWBC for the feedback and fine tuning purposes.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events. I struggled this month with getting my focus in the right place. I got caught in a web of guilt about not spending enough time with family or friends. Then, I discovered there’s a mouse in our house, and I spent days binge cleaning screaming at my roommates, “We live in filth! How do we live like this?” (And in reality, we’re not so bad. But due to construction that was happening, we’d left some crawl spaces open and I’m sure he got in that way and now that Wisconsin is starting to freeze outside, it’s probably much warmer in the house. We’ve named the mouse Carl. Carl needs to leave. I’ve lost sleep listening to him on the wooden floors.) I also underwent some lab work at the hospital to check into some things that have a history in my family. All tests came back normal, which is wonderful, but I freaked myself out the whole weekend waiting for results.
When Life Hands You Lemons, You Make a Nice Citrus Martini!
Eventually, reality dawned that NaNo was simply not going to happen, and it was the one thing I could do without this fall. I still plan on participating next year! But I’ll have exactly that, a plan!
So, I used my new found freedom, which is kind of what it felt like when I actually shook reality’s hand, and I set up some guest post swaps, I had my parents into town (my mom hasn’t been to my house in years), I made a trip home to see my niece and a good friend, I’ve gotten some additional reading done, and I’ve thoroughly cleaned most of my room now.
For the rest of you completing your NaNoWriMo journey today, I wish you all the best! I hope to one day know how it feels to finish the first draft too. In the mean time, I’m still writing, but it’s at my own pace.
Congratulations to the NaNoWriMo winners of 2011!
The rest of you, martini’s at my place! Cheers!