A Letter To Millennials
You guys are always getting a bad rap. So, in honor of Alyssa’s 26th birthday this week, I want to post from a different perspective.
You’re a generation very close to my heart. You inspire me and amaze me with your passion, your creativity, and your resourcefulness. You’re not afraid to color way outside the lines – and I love that about you. The world is definitely a more vibrant place because you’re in it.
I know… you hear it all the time from the media, from bosses and teachers, from the boomers and busters who think they somehow did things better… that millennials are a bunch of spoiled, entitled, self-indulgent, narcissistic, overgrown adolescents. You must be so tired of hearing this.
First of all, let me just say it’s unfair to lump all of you into one stereotypical assumption. You are as varied and unique as the people born in any other era. Sure, each generation tends to take on it’s own personality of sorts as they attempt to navigate the cultural, sociological and economic conditions of their time. But as a whole, you have great diversity.
My son & daughter are millennials. My house has been filled with millennials more times than I can count. I’ve hosted, fed, counseled, coached and mentored millennials through anxiety, depression, major life decisions, and this thing that’s become so common it has a name - quarter-life crisis. I’ve done a lot of observing and a lot of listening. Lots and lots of listening.
And this is what I’m hearing.
You’re not interested in status quo. Success in my generation was a college degree, taking the job that offered the best paycheck, a spouse, a mortgage, and possibly a couple of kids by the time you hit 30. You’re not a generation that just blindly accepts the “norms” of societal expectation. You question everything – which is a good thing, I believe. You’ve had to pave new pathways - in your careers & finances & relationships & housing choices. You are trailblazers.
You want to be CHALLENGED, not coddled. You want to be taken seriously. You truly desire to make a difference. You want to share your talents and gifts with the world and you long to be valued as adults with something valid to offer.
You are frustrated. With a job market that’s difficult to break into, even if you have a college degree. With work that doesn’t pay the bills. With the exorbitant costs of living. You truly wonder if you’ll ever be able to purchase your own home.
But I see this too. You are BRAVE! I would never in a million years have had the courage in my 20s to move to another country or to step onto a stage and perform original music or to put my art or photography or my written thoughts out there for the world to see. To walk away from everything that felt safe in pursuit of a dream or a calling. The millennials I spend time with are musicians and artists, students and teachers, pastors, world travelers, advocates, storytellers, leaders, moms and dads. You have goals and dreams that go way beyond anything I would have imagined at your age. You have heart.
And yet – in the midst of all this adventurous courage – there is an awful lot of fear. You fear making the wrong choices, getting stuck in a career or a relationship that doesn’t make you happy. You fear failure, rejection, disappointing other people. You worry that your dreams just may be unattainable. When your parents raised you to believe you could do anything you wanted to do, you wonder if they were spouting empty words. Maybe they just didn’t know.
Most of all, you fear not being enough. That you don’t have what it takes. But you know what? Fear is paralyzing. And you know what else? You have exactly what it takes. You have been placed in this world in this time in history by God’s grand design. You have been given dreams and gifts and opportunities – not to make much of yourself – but to make much of God. All He desires is that you love Him and love others and you point the mirror of your life in His direction so the Light of His Son can reflect off of you with all the brilliance of heaven. Everything else? It’s just icing on the cake.
The truth is - a lot of you are moving into your 30s. There’s a new generation coming up behind you. Soon the media will grow tired of ragging on the Millennials and they’ll move on to Generation Z. You will leave your mark on history just like those who have gone before you. You were made to be creators and cultivators, to leave things better than you found them, to be innovators and problem-solvers, blazing a trail for those who will come along behind you. So blaze brightly, my friend! Leave beauty in your wake. I’m rooting for you.
Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A tribute to some of the amazing Millennials in my life
With much love,