I don’t like a to think I’m bitter person, but the truth is I am. I suppose in a way, most of us are (sometimes). I have people in my life who don’t “get” me. I imagine you have people in your life who don’t “get” you. It frustrates me. At times, it drives me close to the brink. Be it a parent, a friend, a family member, a mentor you look up to, or the simple fact that society wants (and in many cases, expects) you to abide by certain rules.
I’m a nomadic writer who writes in one coffee shop after another, and because I don’t go to an office each day, certain people deem that I do not work (at least not work hard enough). I don’t have a set salary, so I therefore don’t have a job. I haven’t committed myself to climbing the ladder and getting one degree after another, so therefore I am not (and never will be) successful.
You feel me yet? Have you ever felt or been made to feel like this?
… like you don’t belong?
… like you’re not worthy enough?
… like you’re not deserving?
As a millennial, I’m looked at by older generations as some lazy son of a bitch who doesn’t give a shit about anything. I’m not a homeowner. I don’t have a predictable career that will lead to a gold watch after twenty-five years of service. I don’t obsess over the idea of “job-titles” and the type of car I drive.
Like Tucker Max said in an article for this very site, “Millennials are coddled babies who’ve never had to work for anything in their lives!”
But like Tucker also says, “Millennials own their lives—and Boomers hate Them for it.”
This is the problem. I’m not saying my parents’ generation is jealous of mine, but they certainly do not understand what it’s like to be at the beginning of their journey today (as I imagine their parents generation didn’t “get” them). This stupid cycle of assuming your own generation is the best has to stop. Millennials aren’t better, nor are the boomers before us. We’re just different. Today’s world is different than that of twenty… thirty… forty years ago.
Today’s youth is made to feel like we’re some sort of entitled brat. Well would you like to know what I think is entitled? The luxury of affordable housing when you’re looking to get on the property ladder (in 1975 the average house in the United Kingdom was just under £11,000. In 2017, it’s £192,000). Or how about the cost of a new car being less than what most people today spend on their insurance (£600 for a new mini… are you kidding me?)
There was also a time when gaining a university degree meant something. If you had one, a job awaited you. Today… a university degree secures you nothing. On graduation, you face a real possibility of long term unemployment, and settling for a job you could have gotten without going to university in the first place. And who insists that university is the answer to all problems…?
You guessed it, the people from a generation who have had their time.
Each year, the cost of living goes up, and although the minimum and living wage goes up too, it’s hard to keep up with the cost of fuel, food, and everything else. When I was eighteen-years-old, I used to go for a drink in my working-class town in the north of England and buy a pint of beer for £1.20. Today, I don’t get much change from a five-pound-note.
I’m not writing this to complain or say us poor old Millennials have nothing. The truth is, we have the world at our feet.
I personally feel lucky to be alive right now, to be able to communicate with people across the globe, affordably travel to any continent I wish, have access to almost anything I desire to learn (by simply turning on my phone), and work from a coffee shop with nothing but a laptop and wifi.
I love my life. I love the period of time I live in. I just want people who don’t “get me” to shut up and leave me alone to live MY life.
You don’t need to understand it. You don’t need to agree with it. All I expect is for you to respect that the world of today is not like the world of yesterday. It’s changed, and although society needs to change with it, it doesn’t.
There’s a huge divide. If it were up to us millennials, the UK would remain in the EU (71% of those under 25 voted remain, compared to 64% of those over 65 who decided to leave). There are similar trends in the USA, where a good chunk of the ‘old’ voted for Trump, whereas a good chunk of the ‘young’ did not.
These differing generations are different, and this is fine.
We don’t need to see eye-to-eye, and we don’t have to agree. I don’t expect understanding, but I do expect respect. This shaming of today’s youth has to stop.
Just because we don’t get the same types of job as those before us doesn’t mean we aren’t working hard and fulfilling our potential. Just because we don’t value home ownership or start a family as soon as we hit our twenties doesn’t mean we don’t desire a family or a loving relationship. Just because we’re more open about mental health doesn’t mean we’re weak. Just because we don’t abide by the same ideals as you doesn’t mean we don’t have ideals of our own.
I am an ambitious individual with a clear understanding of what success, happiness, and freedom means to me. It’s different to my parents, and I dare say it wouldn’t make much sense to many people on this planet.
This is okay. I’m fine with this. It doesn’t need to make sense to you. I don’t pretend for a second like I have it all figured out. I’m a human being who makes mistakes. I’m frail. I have fears. I’m imperfect in so many ways, and I’m not afraid to say so. But this does not make me lazy. I do not feel entitled. I am not delusional or irresponsible, or expect anyone else to do the work for me.
I am me, and I am enough.
And if you’re reading this thinking I’m some young buck with no responsibility, I’m not. I’m thirty-three-years-of age with a four-year-old son and another kid on the way. I wake up daunted by this fact every single day. It’s scary and overwhelming, but also the greatest motivation to live my life, fulfill my dreams, and do everything I can to ensure my own children are ready to own this world when there time comes, which will come soon enough. When it does, the world will look different than it does today. Chances are I won’t understand everything they think, feel, and do. We more than likely will not see eye-to-eye.
This is fine. It will be their world, not mine.
So if you’re reading these words as a young person with your life ahead of you, carry on being who you are. I have no answers for you, but you won’t find them sticking to the rules of yesterday.
If you’re a just-about-millennial like me, starting a family and doing your best to be the best person you can, carry on doing what you’re doing. If there are people who don’t support you, you’re not alone. I understand what you’re going through, but it’s our job to not cling to this bitterness. If we do, the cycle will continue, and the only people who will suffer are our own kids.
Finally, if you’re reading this as someone who doesn’t quite “get” the younger people in your life, I ask you to look in the mirror and accept that you have no idea what it’s like to be young today. This world is different, and it’s time you realize that.
You are you; we are we.
We don’t have to agree, but wouldn’t the world be a better place if we if we didn’t always disagree.