The Millennial Way
Somedays I wonder, “Am I woke?”, and I also wonder, Do I even know what that means? As an older Millennial I struggle to meet the expectations of the generations before me and to try to understand the ones that I’m grouped up with. I am old enough that I had the pleasure to write, ‘No Dick. No Bush!’ on the back window of my P.O.S Pontiac Lemans, and to vote accordingly. I am also young enough that I was able to buy my first house with my now husband just after the Housing Market crash for way cheaper, during the Occupy Wall Street era, screwing the last owner in his foreclosure.
I am part of a weird generation that struggles with Peter Pan syndrome. Either we don’t want to grow up or we just don’t know how. I feel like I’m a stranger here among my peers because I am the daughter of a gypsy-hearted father who is allergic to living on the grid. We moved and traveled so much that I never kept a friend or belongings for more than a year until I turned 12. We would often leave behind whole houses full of belongings like we picked up and left during dinner. My dad was not materialistic and had the mind-set that we could just buy what we needed in the next life. This was hard on me as a child and I often look back and wonder if it was just things I had to leave behind and not my sense of identity. To this day, as an adult, I have a hard time parting with belongings I have acquired myself, because I have the power to keep what I want. Sometimes to the extreme.
The way we are raised shapes who we are and what we believe as an adult. So, if we are called the lost generation, what does that mean about the ones who came before us? Are we so lost that we can’t grow up, or are we redefining the meaning of what it means to be young?
I have job hopped and tried about everything under the sun to find the job that spoke to my heart. I have sold Mary Kay, Princess House, and had my own cleaning business. I used to make and sell pot brownies to party people. I would be called to parties in corn fields, house parties, and hey turn left at the 78th tree down a two-track in the woods kind of parties. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that about me. I have attended almost 7 years of college to find my purpose in life. After years of guessing, I have landed in my dream job of photographing weddings. I think it took getting married myself to understand that being around people in love and dressed in happiness was my calling.
I also own an online Mommy and Me boutique I named Bird Nest Boutique, where I sell dresses and baby products mostly designed by me and sewn by my ultra-talented grandma. I have always been an entrepreneur before I even know what that was. I remember one day as a 7-year-old, I was on a construction job with my dad when he gave me a dollar bill and sent me to the corner store to buy him a pepsi 20 oz. I came back later than it should have taken me and had to explain that I was comparing all the prices and ounces of the bottles to find the best value for his money. I ended up getting him a 2-liter and even gave him a dime back. The 20 oz was a whopping 99 cents. It didn’t make any sense to me. He stood drinking that warm 2-liter on the roof of that house, without a complaint but laughed and shook his head as he shrugged at the jokes from the guys around him.
That was the first clue to me that there was something I didn’t understand about the way I thought. I was different, and he supported that in me. He used to tell me I could be anything I wanted in the world, if I was willing to work for it. “Except for a ballerina”, he said once, “I’ve never seen a clumsy ballerina before. Better avoid that one.” And I took him seriously. I put my heart and sweat into everything I have tried, but never danced in slippers. It just wasn’t in the cards for me nor did I care to.
Would the generations of war time and glory approve of my willy nilly way of supporting myself? Probably not. But working a job for the rest of my life that makes me miserable be better? No.
I have been reading this book, “The Millennial’s Guide to Changing the World”, and it gets me. The author, Alison Sher, says of my generation:
Psychologists who study emerging adulthood say that this
phase of life is characterized by instability, insecurity, a feeling
of being in-between states, and extreme self-focus, all fueled
by the ideation of multiple future possibilities. It’s also a time
when more than half of us will suffer from anxiety and about a
third us will be clinically depressed.
See? She totally understands me. Which means I am not as alone in my journey as I have always felt I was. I have dealt with depression in some of the worst ways, but I have also been so joyed and content that words cannot describe it.
She also seems to understand the connection our generation has with political resistance and wanting to change the world. Here is my favorite excerpt from the book and I think it speaks to the hearts of most millennials in the want for change in our society.
The truth is it isn’t just millennials who are “entitled”;
America herself, the geopolitical imperialist, is entitled. We must
recognize that the American Dream is one of entitlement and
that not everyone is going to get an equal opportunity to realize
it—not everyone may even desire it. But no matter how much we
may rebel, millennials do feel a subliminal pressure to conform
to this cultural norm.
Amid the realities of American egotism, mediocrity, and corruption,
there are many reasons to be grateful that we live here instead
of, say, South Sudan. The whole middle-class conformist package
that elicits so much contempt in young, critically-thinking, noncompliant
millennials would be paradise to a refugee struggling
for shelter, food, and water. There are immigrants who come to
the United States and kiss the ground they land on, because it is
a place where they have a chance to meet their basic needs, earn
money, and make a life.
A well-functioning democratic society is akin to a living, self-correcting
organism that’s designed to provide the means for as
many people to fulfill their basic needs as possible when every
member of society contributes to the whole. The problem arises
when this model is exploited, greed is rewarded, and certain individuals—the
rich, white, male oligarchy—have the most say in
creating and molding our environment simply because they are
already at the top of the pyramid. They are the right skin color,
and the right gender. They have the right connections. They
inherit family wealth. And all too often, they rule with a false
authority. Instead of using their power to create a society where
everyone can prosper, they create a society where they prosper at
the expense of everyone else.
So, who are we to demand change? Not just for ourselves, but that the next generation can have freedom from the nightmare we call the “American Dream”. We are the answer. I think that if anyone can accomplish the impossible to-do list, inherited from a power-hungry generation, and save the world, it’s us. People my age are living on love and influence, and brining home the bread that feeds the soul, and the babies.
Read her book, “The Millennial’s Guide to Changing the World”. It’s a great guide to chasing your purpose, understanding your peers, and diving head first into life as a millennial with power to change. Even if you aren’t a millennial but are someone striving to understand the most mis-understood group of people ever, this is for you. We aren’t a bunch of avocado toast eating, hippie wannabe, wanderlusts… we are #badasses, #bossmoms… and #woke af.
*Sponsored Post. Snippets are from Alison Sher’s book but story and testimony are my own. *Powered by BrandBacker