I’ve seen so many posts lately titled things like “Why You Shouldn’t Get Married Young”, “Why College Students Are Disengaged in the Classroom”, and “Reasons Why Millennials are Obsessed with Technology/Leaving the Church/Angry with the World”**. I used to read them out of curiosity, but I’ll be honest: I don’t even bother to click on most of them anymore. They all say something along the same lines: “we” (either Generation X or older Millennials) see similar behaviors occurring in this age group but we don’t know why, so we’re going to formulate an explanation on their behalf.
Speaking to an entire generation is really dangerous. Whenever your audience is a whole age group, you have to allow for many exceptions. People have entirely different backgrounds, family situations, and life experiences by the time they are even in high school. I rarely relate to the majority of nineteen year olds, regardless of the fact that we’re all the same age. Whenever I see articles directed at telling me things, they’re usually assuming I’m immature and telling me stuff I already know.
So, from a nineteen year old girl who is a Millennial: please stop.
Stop telling me why I have a problem, whether or not I have a problem, and who is responsible for my problem. I appreciate that you care, and I appreciate that you want to help, but the beauty of advice is that it is most meaningful when sought out and asked for. I remember very few blog posts that told me how to live my life, but I remember almost every conversation when I asked for the opinion of someone I admired and they told me what their life experiences taught them. When you have a personal relationship with someone, it frames the background for a deeper understanding of their advice and the life choices behind it.
When an opinion is given as a fact, or as a recipe for a successful life (“Follow these 5 steps to have [fill in the blank]!”), there is no allowance for the fact that life does not have a One-Size-Fits-All. What worked for you might not work for somebody else, and that isn’t anyone’s fault–it’s just the recognition of reality. We’re all different. Let’s celebrate that instead of fearing it.
Instead of sitting around speculating about why we behave the way we do, feel free to ask us. I, for one, would be eager and completely willing to share my thoughts if I believed it would increase my chances of being understood instead of criticized.
I’m not saying you can’t be an adult and share your life experiences in the blogosphere with a younger audience–it’s how you do it. If you’re preaching, chances are good that no one will hear you out. If you’re telling your story, an experience that is yours to tell and what you learned from it in a vulnerable and genuine way, you could make a huge impact. It’s all in the delivery. I can’t speak for all Millennials, but I know being preached at feels completely different from reading someone’s story. It’s the stories that make an impact.
I recognize that this blog post would be entirely unfair if all of the blame was cast on the older generation. I acknowledge and accept responsibility for the fact that Millennials can be childish, entitled, ignorant, and cocky. Sometimes I think I know more than I actually do. But everything we learned as children, we learned from you. If some Millennials are disengaged and can’t maintain healthy relationships, chances are healthy relationships were never modeled for them by the adults in their lives. If some are lazy, chances are they were never taught to have good work ethic. The older generation is not entirely responsible, but it would be ignorant to cast all the blame on “kids these days”. If you are concerned and frustrated with the younger generation, remember that it is a two-way street.
I know letting us speak for ourselves takes a lot of faith and trust, and maybe you don’t have that in us. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. There are a lot of immature children in my generation. But there are also a lot of awesome young adults aspiring to go above and beyond where the bar has been set. Just like any other adult, we need trust and encouragement, but we also need to be able to make mistakes. Trial and error is the best way to learn, and my favorite way to learn, even if it hurts sometimes.
For those of you who have put your trust and faith in me, let me screw up sometimes, and didn’t tell me how to live my life: thank you. Because of you I am well on my way to adulthood, and your trust in my intelligence and wisdom is what gave me the confidence I needed to make it. I wouldn’t be able to become an adult without you.
**None of these are actual articles, but made up titles that are very similar to ones I have actually seen. My intent is not to point fingers or cast blame on specific bloggers, but to give examples.