Please give a warm welcome to today’s contributor to the Millennial Perspectives series, Lauren from Life on a Branch. She’s been a long-time supporter of my writing, for which I’m grateful, and I frankly think she hits the ball out of the park with this post. Do you agree? (Or not!) Then comment below!
To be honest, it would be weird if you weren’t having these feelings. You are on this website, after all. That means you’re probably benefiting from advice on how to cope with what I just described.
Life as a young adult is trying. This is true for any generation, but Millennials seem to be flailing more than their parents and grandparents. At the age of 25, I’m right there with you in that big, scary ocean.
A few weeks ago I had one of my routine, “What am I doing with my career?” moments. You know, one that involves the stress and questioning described above. After researching a few different career paths, I decided to call my parents and give them the rundown on what I was considering.
They listened to what I had to say and were supportive in the way that parents need to be, but for the most part my mom and dad seemed worried about me. They told me it sounded like I was panicking and they didn’t know why.
I explained that I didn’t like my current job but didn’t feel like I was doing enough to further the career I wanted. I didn’t even know what career I wanted. My parents still struggled to understand my feelings of confusion and inadequacy. They basically said (in a loving way) that I was thinking too much and needed to get out more.
I was surprised at my parents’ lack of understanding. To me what I was feeling was completely normal and justified. To them I was being too hard on myself.
Then I took a minute to consider our generational differences.
My parents, like the parents of many Millennials, are Baby Boomers. They were raised in a very practical manner by their parents, who were children during the Great Depression. Our grandparents never told our moms and dads that they could do whatever they set their minds to, but the post-war economy did.
The success of our parents’ generation led them to raise us with the same optimism they developed. Gen Y became the guinea pigs of the “you can do anything” mantra; the same generation grew up receiving participation trophies. This means we were raised to believe that we could choose to do anything and were guaranteed to succeed at it.
Let’s throw in one more thing Millennials are growing up with that Baby Boomers didn’t: social media. We are told we can do anything. We have high expectations for what we can accomplish. And we can compare our accomplishments (or lack of) with our peers in an instant.
No wonder a recent study showed Millennials to be the most anxious and depressed age group.
Listen up for a minute, fellow Gen Yers. I’m not going to tell you to lower your expectations or stop trying to create a fulfilling life. But I am going to tell you this: slow your roll. Let’s turn the pressure cooker down a few notches.
Forget expectations. Forget the pressure of choosing the right career. Forget social media. For a moment, take a deep breath and forget about everything you were inadvertently raised to worry about. Consider your life from a different perspective.
To my parents, I’ve already accomplished a lot. I moved across the country. I found a full-time job. I hiked to the top of mountains, tried rock climbing and am taking full advantage of the new state I live in. Even though I don’t like my current job, I’ve only been there for a year. To them, I am young. To them, I have plenty of time to mold my career into something I’ll enjoy.
We are expected to decide what we want to do as soon as we can and go after it. While this pressure isn’t completely off base (psychologist Meg Jay brings up some good points), it’s healthy to take a note from our parents and look at our lives from another perspective every now and then.
Make a list of accomplishments you’re proud of, no matter how small. Stop focusing on what your life could or should be and reflect on the positives of what it already is.
Relax, Millennials. During your quest to find life-long purpose and happiness, take some time to look around. Try not to step on the joy your life already possesses.
Now I want to know: What are your strategies for finding joy in what you have done, rather than focusing on what you haven’t?
Photo Credit: @jackeliiine