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!
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — The Declaration of Independence.
You know, our Forefathers really had this whole foreshadowing of the future thing going on. They knew, even back in 1776, that people weren’t going to be born happy, all they could do was pursue it. Kind of makes you wish you could go back in time and clock John Hancock on the head, doesn’t it? Old mousey wigged, know-it-all!
The constant quest for finding happiness gives me this image in my mind.
I’s going to get you!
Achieving happiness isn’t the same as a math equation, although I’d be equally in trouble if that WERE the case. You can’t say that just because someone Earned a Degree + Married + Had 2.5 kids = Happiness. The standards and desires of each person are different. But still, we try to make it formulated! We read articles, we join clubs, we go on juice diets, we hang out in a certain crowd, we buy skinny jeans and then don’t wear them.
Here’s a list of things I’ve done in hopes it would bring me happiness:
1. Bought and wore on the same day matching clothes as my best friends.
- Admit it, some of you have done this too! It was the absolute hype of middle school trends in my day. And I have photos where we’re all sporting the same corduroy overalls, “bibs” to the hip crowd. And I believe there was another incident with matching chartreuse turtlenecks. Yah, those photos aren’t going online.
2. Dated some boy I didn’t like.
- I’m sorry but he was an absolute turd of a human being who chewed way too much gum, and then had our mutual friend in band call me to tell me he was maybe-sorta-thinking about breaking up with me.
3. Played Truth or Dare at any age.
- First off, why did someone invent a game where the ultimate goal is to dig up dirt on your friends? And second, who in their right mind ever selects ‘dare’? This stupid game has made me give my pocket money to strangers, steal plates from Pizza Hut, drink water from the toilet, and quote lines from Young Frankenstein while dancing in a leaf pile on campus at some ungodly hour of the night??? And now, I sit back and eagerly await the search engine terms that will link to my blog.
4. Spontaneous sex.
- Oh sure, it starts out all romantic, you’re sneaking onto the rooftop of an abandoned factory, looking out over the city lights and traffic below. You start kissing, the kissing leads to clothes coming off, and what’s that…the rooftop is made of fiberglass?!
5. Join an intramural sports team.
- It’s supposed to be fun, that’s what the people told me who got me to sign up for intramural badminton. Back to back games with international Asian students kicking our a$$es! And then, my partner sprained her ankle and I got tendonitis. For reals.
But then are things that really do bring me happiness!
Despite the pitfalls of fashion trends and a dieting faux pas, there are tried and true things that bring us joy. I started up this blog to test them. Some of my particular favorites are:
1. Movie marathons
- Having been a video store clerk for 5 years, there were times where I wouldn’t go a day without watching at least one movie! Reuniting with favorite characters and quoting lines from your favorite flicks is a comfort thing for me. I love vegging out and having theme movie marathons.
2. Giving and receiving surprises from your friends.
- You can’t beat girlfriends. There’s just nothing like them. It makes my day when a friend surprises me with homemade spring rolls on my porch after a long day at work. And I felt good surprising a friend who was injured after a bike fall with an accessory box – all the fixings to get dolled up and still wear pants, plus a ticket to the new Sex and the City movie!
3. Visiting the library.
- I am a library groupie. I love the library. I rent all my movies and books from here and visit at least once a week. It’s a place to relax, browse new titles, stock up on as much as you want, and chill in a variety of sitting areas and furniture!
4. Simple dinners at home.
- You know what my favorite kind of date night it? Cheese, crackers, and wine at home. I love laid back, romantics evenings. Cooking at home or grilling out, making a meal together is fun. Put on Pandora and enjoy each others’ company. A favorite recommendation: making southwest food and listening to zydeco music, then eating alfresco on the patio.
5. Going for a walk.
- It’s not rocket science, it’s fresh air. Taking a walk is good for you. I’m lucky to live in an area where there’s a marsh and bluffs to walk or hike in. I think nature reminds us to slow down. To literally STOP and smell the roses.
Your turn! What are the things you’ve tried in the pursuit of happiness? And what things have you found that truly bring it? Got a happiness tip for me to try? Share it!