Anybody else feel completely detached from their age? I don’t mean this in feeling more youthful or more mature, I mean I simply do not feel like a 26-year-old. I find this more common amongst the younger Millennials where we feel so lost in this world since we have not reached those “traditional” milestones of adult independence: having things in our name (e.g. car, house), starting a family, working one job that provides enough income that we aren’t living paycheck to paycheck despite having a degree (or two). A lot of us still have some kind of support from our parents and being 26, I just hit one year of being on my own insurance. Even if we were to take money out of the equation (although it is the main issue), we don’t even have the confidence of being an adult to make our own decisions.
Who still gets nervous to call to make their own appointments? Who knows how to change a tire? Who had to learn to cook and do laundry once they arrived on their college campus? Who was made to feel like a failure if they did not go to or finish college and asked ‘what are you going to do with your life’? While these do not all apply to me, I certainly know the pressures us Millennials have had to feel from the time we could start considering college applications. Millennials were the first generation to be targeted as lazy for the most arbitrary of reasons. As we got older, we all had to learn we were simply the guinea pig generation, that our parents were just as lost as we were at our age, that nobody knew how much society/the world would change, and the list goes on. Technology definitely impacted us a great deal, however, because we were the first to be inundated with media 24/7 of comparison culture. While we can sit here and talk about how Millennials revolutionized business, communication, and popular culture with our experimentation with technology, I think we all have more vivid memories of hearing how spoiled and lazy we are, how much we have ‘failed’, how many industries we ‘killed’, and how not being able to afford a decent lifestyle is because we buy Starbucks every day. Need I add the images of people in their early 20’s who “made it” without connecting the dots that the reason these people are being praised for making it is because IT’S NOT NORMAL? Those are the things that stick. Those are the things that plague us in our low moments and keep some of us down. We were called snowflakes when we were broken before we even had a chance.
This type of complex, which has led to more of us being targeted with depression, anxiety, and daily impostor syndrome, has completely ailed us from believing we can actually achieve anything. How funny is that to be raised being told you can do anything because your life objectively is better than your parents’, but to grow up and find out that there is an asterisk on that sentence? There are so, so, so many reasons why a lot of us can’t fully call the shots in our lives even if we are legally adults, but today, I’m deciding what parts of my life I can take back. These thoughts have been circulating in my mind arguably the last four years and more seriously the last two. As I walked into this new year, I started planning out some important, life-changing decisions for myself and instead of general fear and jitters of change, I was completely nerve-wracked by what other people in my life would think. I would find myself making pros and cons list and realizing half the things on the list were to make other people comfortable with my decisions. When I envisioned how to tell people things, I found myself in a five-minute or more monologue of reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing instead of just…saying I’m doing it. Why am I rehearsing for an audience? How long is the list of people who need to approve my decisions before I can be okay with it? When will I break free of caring so much what other people think?
I have spent so much of my 20’s idolizing people my own age or a couple of years older than me about their ability to take risks. I never once considered I could do those things. Not because they had more money or more opportunity, but just because. Until now. What this year and the rest of my life will look like is consistently reminding myself that I am accomplished by my own standards, that I do not need to feel guilty or responsible for others’ expectations of me, and that this life is mine to live and mine only. Do I know where my life is going to take me? Absolutely not. What is my five-year plan? I don’t have one and I never have. The 21-year-old graduate facing that interview question for the first time did not want the same things this 26-year-old wants, and the future 31-year-old will likely want completely different things than I want now too. So, what are you going to change about your life then? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.