A Love Letter to Millennials and Gen Z from Gen X
Dear Millennials and Gen Z’s,
We just wanted to write you a quick note of encouragement from the Latchkey Kids. Y’all are getting a raw deal, and we see it. You should be renamed the Gaslit Generation for all the emotional whiplash, Millennials, in particular, have been experiencing. After giving it some thought, we came up with a few pieces of advice that we wish we had from the generation before us when they passed the baton.
Be Skeptical of Opinionaters
Take special notice when someone from a previous generation writes an article or spends their throwing shade on your generation. What do those people or businesses have to gain by denigrating or dissing Millennials or Gen Z? Ad revenue? Clicks, likes, and shares? You are not the first generation to be down-played by their predecessors, but you might be the first generation to be dissed for profit, or in order not to disrupt the status quo. (And, you won’t be the last.) In fact, I hope you keep this in mind when the next generation is coming up trying to flourish in whatever you’ve passed down to them.
Define Success on Your Own Terms
We Gen X’er’s were taught that our definition of success should be climbing the corporate ladder, working to the bone and sacrificing ourselves, the planet, and our relationships to get what all the other generations before. So, Dear Millennials and Z’ers, please think about what success means to you – your health, community, money, relationships, planet and beyond. Imagine what would make you feel successful in each of these realms. It doesn’t have to align with the vision of a big house on the hill with the flashy ride. It might be that you make your own hours so you can spend time on your charity work or continuing education. It could be a remote job so you can travel and work.
What do you see when you visualize being “successful”? Give it some serious thought. You live in the age of the Internet. That means you have a golden opportunity to make your world what you want it to be. We are excited to see what you choose.
Education Comes in Many Forms
Your education does not end when you graduate high school, or even college if you decide that you want to go. Textbooks and professors cannot give you a complete life-long education. Your life experience will inform your education path long after you graduate. Find an interest and explore it. You have a world of connectivity at your fingertips that no generation before you has had – take advantage of it. There is value in the programmed education that you should be taking advantage of. But, it will not last you a lifetime. Don’t make the mistake of feeling like you crossed a finish line when you graduate. That’s just the beginning. As life evolves, you need to be able to learn to address the changes and challenges this evolution will bring to your door.
It felt like we had to make decisions about our lives all at once when we were your age. Our elders expected us to answer the question, “so what do you want to do with your life?” when we were 15 or 16. At an age when we are the least equipped to deal with it, we were expected to nail down education and careers. Now, you have additional social pressures that we just didn’t have to deal with. Just breathe – make choices that support how you define success and what you value most. Don’t lean too heavily on the opinions of others online (remember rule #1). Talk to people who only have your best interest at heart. Research your options but don’t measure yourself against how others define success, and reach out to a mentor when things get to be too much.
We’re Proud of You.
We really are proud of you. You are the most socially engaged generation since the ’60s. You realize that the only way to get rid of the hate and haters is to aggressively pursue equality, joy, and demonstrate love. Someday, you might build a world were extremes of right and left don’t exist and rationality is the tone of the conversation because that’s what you’re bringing to the table.
You, Millennial, and you Gen Z’er are so far ahead of your parents and grandparents in ways that are going to change this planet for the better. So, ignore the haters, and thank you – we’re proud of you.