Sunday, August 8, 2010

We are Millennials

Hello, my name is Rebekah, and I am a millennial. We are a unique generation. We were pushed, encouraged, and coddled. We were told not to just join clubs, teams and organizations, but to run them, lead them, and change them. We grew to expect A’s on assignments, trophies for participation, and pats on the back for a good job – we love gratification. We were told we could be whatever we wanted to be when we grew up.

Now that I am grown up, I feel gypped.

All the parenting 101 books that lectured parents to bring their children up in this manner should be burned. This mantra did not stimulate us - it stifled us. To be whatever we wanted subliminally meant to also be better, smarter and more successful than others in our class. Instead of broadening our horizons it shrunk them, made us afraid of failure and encouraged us to choose professions that were not too difficult or had a small chance of flat out disaster.

In first grade our class was given a huge piece of butcher paper and told to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote I wanted to be president. (Side note: I actually wanted to write ballerina, but I couldn’t spell it – fear of failure from an early age- and chose an easier to spell profession.) The words littering the page ranged from astronauts to doctors to professional football players. In first grade we had already drank the ‘be all you can be ‘ kool-aid. We didn’t know as first graders how difficult to achieve and how unlikely are dreams actually were.

So instead of stretching our imaginations we set ourselves up for failure. To overcome that feeling, we pushed ourselves harder or tailored our dreams to make them more achievable. Not to discredit the professions we “downgraded” to, but as we grew older, our dreams shrank. The astronauts became pilots, doctors became nurses and Presidential hopefuls, well, we just realized it was a little beyond reach.

As a person who has just achieved the rank of “grown up” I think we, as a generation, are disoriented. We are still looking for the ‘A’ to prove we are successful, or a ribbon to prove we are number one. The high standards that were set for us now seem unattainable from the bottom. As our dreams shrink so does our future, and that is scary.

We are used to being the best. We are scared of failure. We are uncomfortable. We are lost. We are millennials.

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