Millennial Musings – Being a Millennial in 2018August 4, 2018
When you think of “millennials” what comes to mind? What defines the millennial generation? Technology? Privilege? Wanderlust? Student loan debt? Personally, I’d agree with all of the above, and maybe even more that you can add to the list, but for me the biggest thing that marks my life as a millennial is that my life is fucking crazy.
It is never-ending change. And never-ending anticipation. In the song “Rich Love,” by One Republic, singer Ryan sings “I was saving up for something hoping life would finally start.” Right? But we all figure out by our 30s that this shit is basically it. A future where we are always someday happy is no substitute for now.
We have so many more options.
The biggest difference I think between millennials and the older generations is that suddenly the world has become much bigger. We’ve been granted a magical genie lamp for asking questions – it’s called Google and Wikipedia and Quora. There are so many more options and opportunities available to us. An infinity of options, compared to the quantity our parents and grandparents faced before.
To think, at 30 years old having my third child, only now am I finding out about my “option” to have a free birth. I feel funny calling it an option because what it really is is a birth right. But I never knew about it before. And now, thanks to the internet and facebook groups and this crazy thing called podcasts, I am aware of it, and I feel awakened.
Maybe that’s why so many of our generation claim to have “awakenings” – because the Internet has so finely created a “collective consciousness” of so many millions of thoughts and ideas and answers at our fingertips. How could we not feel our minds opening as the information pours in?
There are apps out there that claim to teach you a foreign language in 3 weeks. Goodbye Rosetta Stone! I’m betting younger millennials won’t even get the reference. But then there’s several different Babelfish devices on the market that provide in-ear translation for at least 40 languages, and counting. So why even bother learning a foreign language anymore?
Personally, I’m feeling a lot less motivated to brush up on my Spanish. And with driverless cars now literally a thing of the present, I’m starting to feel like my New Year’s Resolutions from 5 years ago to learn Spanish and how to drive a stick shift are now totally obsolete.
But the options can make us crazy.
It makes our world- our life- feel so much more out of control, when so much more is possible.
Navigating options in 1988 was like catching fireflies by the wood line at dusk in a little jar while Pop made a camp fire. In 2018 it’s more like running away from a fucking swarm of fireflies and trying to be hit by only a dozen of them, while the whole sky is on fire and the little jar is shattered at the wood line like ashes scattered on a grave.
When I graduated college it took me about 5 weeks to find out that I didn’t have to limit myself to jobs in my hometown – or in my home country for that matter. I took a job in Korea teaching English for the public schools.
When I had children, modern cloth diapering offered me literally hundreds of different ways I could diaper my babies, and when they were school-aged, homeschooling was “mainstream” and not just for the churchy kids anymore. Just to make thins even more confusing, there were also free public charter schools and Montessori schools galore to choose from.
In a world of endless options, it can feel dizzying just keeping track of them all, let alone making decisions. It’s one of the reasons why I often feel sick over the number of difficult decisions I have to make every day.
Which of the thousand restaurants in town should I eat at? Or which of the million recipes should I make? Or which of the seven nearest grocery stores should I go to? Or should I skip all that altogether and order my pantry goods on-line and my produce from a co-op?
And now all I’ve done today is eaten! Fed my whole family if I really got my shit together. Wow. I often feel like dealing with food and eating is a full-time job – and it’s seriously no joke.
Beyond that – more day-to-day decision making pounds me further into the dirt of my consciousness that’s just screaming – when will it end? Do I really want to make this doctor’s appointment? Maybe it’s not worth the copay. Do we really need dental insurance?? Can we budget for a gym membership? Full service laundry? Is it legal to shoot a lamppost if it’s keeping you up all night? What would Jenny think if I RSVP “maybe” to the party?
Life isn’t easier.
I’ve heard that some believe that life is much easier for millennials with our smartphones and instagram and video chat. I would argue that psychologically, it’s much harder. We have so much more crap to juggle every day.
Between email and Facebook groups and online news we still need to pay our credit card bills and make time for the rest of our lives that aren’t any less in proportion to our parents’. We may not have to line dry clothes or balance a checkbook, but we have a thousand other to-dos that have replaced them.
Life isn’t easier. It’s at least just as hard – in a thousand different new ways that we barely even understand yet. It isn’t any easier, but it sure is crazier. So maybe, the biggest millennialism of all is really just a fucking crazy life.