I’ve got a message for Millennials.
A lot of things are said about you guys—often. You seem to be the brunt of a lot of societal blame. Post after post I see the war generation and the baby boomers call you lazy, arrogant, undisciplined, ungrateful, wild, sinful and poor communicators. I’ve even seen some of your own make cute videos telling you all to grow up and get your shit together and that you all want stuff too quick; the microwave generation.
Well I got something to say to you too…and, every other generation that came after the boomers.
See, I respect the hell out of you.
Because, you’re rebelling against stuff that should be rebelled from. As you’ve all watched the generations go before you, and seen the fruit of it, you all said, “Nope. Not me.” You’ve watched the generations ahead of you defend, force and demand you follow the countries religion, politics, education, work, marriage, retirement—the American dream, and, watched it mostly not work.
So you’ve been able to see what they didn’t, innovate where they couldn’t, think for yourself, and follow a different beat even if you didn’t know where it was leading. And you don’t have to know where it’s all heading. The writer Paulo Coelho says, “In life, it’s sometimes ok to not know what you want. But you must absolutely know what you don’t want.”
Because, let’s be honest, the definition of the American dream is up for grabs, right?
Did the boomers and fighters do their best?
I think so.
But that doesn’t mean you Millennials are wrong and that their way of doing and thinking was and is superior to yours.
You are the next thing and you’re going to be fine.
When those harsh comments fly about how off you all are being, just remember they were just as off in their way too, but you’re working towards something better.
They say you don’t work hard. Well, they worked hard, very hard, and millions of them are on depression meds, angry, cynical and lack hope. You guys are creative and bright and fast and don’t need to walk a mile up hill in the snow to pay your bills. If you can do it from your phone on the beach, that doesn’t make you lazy. It makes you smart. So keep it up.
They say you’re wild and loud and sexual and undisciplined. Well they were often sexually and emotionally suppressed; hiding their feelings, sexual orientations, and true thoughts. They grew up in a culture that said “children should be seen, not heard.” So they watch your voice rise and it scares them because it’s foreign to them. Don’t be silenced. Keep speaking up. Keep being you. The rules have changed and those older more rigid ways of viewing morality and sexuality and emotions—we’re finding out—don’t work.
They won’t tell you this but: they’re secretly jealous of your freedom. Of your spirit. Of your youth. So don’t let their voices intimidate you.
Shall we disrespect back? Of course not.
For they did the best they could, and we stand on their shoulders.
If you kick out their feet from under them, you’re still standing on their shoulders, you just won’t be as tall. So for your own sake, be kind, and respectful to them for bringing us this far.
And same goes for the boomers.
Every word you say about the generations under you is a direct reflection of the fruit of your beliefs and actions and lifestyle. These kids grew up in your homes. If they’re wild and crazy and impatient and lazy, there’s a reason.
And the reason isn’t entirely you…
It’s the ideals we’re all chasing.
The beliefs we’re all living under.
The way we interpret our holy books.
The invisible choke hold of societal pressure.
All the hundreds of blind assumptions we place on ourselves and those around us about who we are and what we should all be doing.
The American dream has officially failed, and we’re finally figuring that out.
Finding out that trading your every living moment for a paycheck to pay off the bank til you’re too old to run and enjoy life with the energy you once had, isn’t life. We can no longer go to school, get a good job, and retire happily. That story doesn’t work. It’s better to make less, work longer years, and enjoy your work. Might not be a better retirement, but it’s a better life. But let’s be honest, how many enjoy that retirement anyway? Some do. But it’s not the majority.
And we’re watching it in marriages and home lives too. Money and sex is not the number one cause of divorce, marriage is. And the way we’ve postured and glorified and given our all to protect kids from sex, trying to help them have better marriages, has only backfired. How? Because most of the ones teaching it weren’t happy and fulfilled and honest and whole in their lives. And most of the young generations went through divorce after divorce, seeing that something was missing inside these attempts to protect marriage and sexuality at all costs by waving the morality flag. There’s a better way, and you guys are figuring it out. It’s messy. It’s painful. It’s colorful and confusing, but as Savage Garden once said, “honesty is better than monogamy.” (Can’t believe I just quoted them) And you’re finding out that being honest and knowing your true messy self and finding the bravery to declare it is the foundation of a healthy relationship.
You’ll still suffer in relationships and dating and marriage, but it will be different. When you guys suffer, it’ll be because you said too much, crossed that line, went too far, shared your heart, took that risk etc. People can handle the truth, even with all its mess and ridges, because they know what they’re dealing with. So keep being honest and vibrant and weird and transparent. It will work out.
There’s values and relationship and dynamics and emotional compatibility and openness and psychology and, above all, freedom. You’re figuring it out and together we’re going to improve, not just marriage, but love itself.
You Millennials are changing the world, and those who don’t like change don’t like it.
Will you learn from your own mistakes? Of course. You’re smart and adaptive and brave.
Can you be fiery? Hell ya.
Can it burn and cause damage? For sure.
But it’s good and it’s powerful and I love it.
And I don’t want you to stop being you.
There is a better way to work, play, believe, and be in this world, and I think you guys are on to something, and I’m excited for the next 100 years.
As a final word…
Every parent should say, “I’m sorry. I could have done better.”
Every child should say, “I forgive you. You did your best.”
The hardest thing with transitions is age and time. The old vs the new. The old vs the young.
Some of these boomers have taken a beating. Sure, they fucked up the economy, ruined the taste of religion and sucked at keeping marriages together. They put us through a lot of shit, but they also went through it too. We’re not the only ones hurting from it all.
“When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.”
We’re all in this together.
They’re not perfect and they know that (at least many do). And they sincerely want to help and don’t want their years and wisdom to go to waste. It’s one of the greatest of joys to share knowledge and experience and life lessons with someone who’s a few steps behind you. It’s not belittling, it’s love. Yes, they can cross the line and try to keep you from making mistakes. This too is love. They can be demanding and controlling and harsh when you step out of line. Oddly, still love.
So use your individuality and talk to them and confront them. Don’t back out on people just because they don’t know better or don’t see the world through your eyes. Stand your ground, speak your peace, and the two parties can learn to grow together.
You each have a gift. And the only way each group will receive from the other is if they speak each others language.
Boomers—chill out and enjoy the craziness. You have a gift to give. You’ve been through a lot and if anything, remember that sharing your pain and being vulnerable may be one of the biggest things us youngsters need. Stop pretending to have all the answers. You don’t. You have experience. Share your experience, and the just keep loving.
Millennials (and X and Y and Z and more)—keep being you. Keep pushing the bounds. Keep asking questions. Keep speaking up. Don’t disrespect, but don’t be owned by unhelpful ideas, dogmas, pressures, and stories about what it means to be human. Be passionate, but be open. My favorite people are those who ask questions and think and ponder and stretch and argue, but are willing to take in information. Be resolute, but be more resolute to learn. Find a boomer or someone who has gone before you who’s willing to share their time and heart and soak it in.
They’ve been through a lot. We’re going to go through a lot.
We need each other.
They can save us some pain; we can bring them some youthful energy.
They can save us years; we can add to theirs.
It will all only work with love.
Let’s make the world a better place.