My Gratitude in the Millennials

 

Lately, I’ve come to really appreciate my generation of Millennials, how far we have come, and how far we appear to be going. We are ever changing, and a debate of being known as the generation of “free spirited do-gooders” or “self-entitled narcissists,” is up to us to define.

In the negative retrospect, our generation can be described as lazy, impatient and narcissistic, Time magazine went so far as to let it be known Generation Y was better known as the “Me Me Me Generation”. At first, especially in high school, I would also have concurred the findings that our generation was less politically engaged and more interested in the material world too. “The trend is more of an emphasis on extrinsic values such as money, fame, and image, and less emphasis on intrinsic values such as self-acceptance, group affiliation and community,” said a research article done by Time. However, simultaneously, this generation has also been described as being more open-minded, confident, self-expressive, adventurous and statistically much more liberal than any generation before. I think, slowly but ever so surely, our generation is beginning to transition to the much more positive characteristics that could result in changing our future for our nation, and possibly, the world.

Everyone’s growing desire to digest information and experience more than what could be offered in someone’s backyard or through their cell phone devices has shed a new light to my opinion of Generation Y. Some have even described at least half of Milleninals as the new generation of hippies now that we’ve grown, have become aware of all the good, all the bad, and in love with the positive affects we can offer our surroundings by enjoying it to the fullest and becoming a part of it. Whether that experience is a genuine fulfillment or just for a moment captured in time for an Instagram post, people around me, myself included, are becoming more aware of where happiness can be found.

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Maybe it’s found waking up a little bit earlier for a morning walk, to enjoy a brief cool breeze and not so busy sounding streets. Maybe it’s found in a hammock, when you’re finally reading a book for your own pleasure and not one assigned by a professor. Maybe it’s found giving a loved one a call, and appreciating the older you both get. Maybe it’s found in the middle of paddle board stroke, or a hike, or a dive into cold waters, and feeling the sun kissing your shoulders as if to show gratitude to your growing adventurous heart. Maybe it’s found passing the exam you stayed up late studying for, another milestone crossed and getting you closer to where you want to be. Maybe it’s found right before the band plays your favorite song live and everyone around is chanting with hands in the air as if to grasp onto that moment to never forget how it made them feel. Maybe it’s found in between a prayer and your soul warmed by your faith. Maybe it’s found in the day break of the night out with your friends, realizing you hadn’t checked your phone in over an hour because you’re enjoying the company and moment more than finding out if everyone else is.

A friend showed me a documentary titled “Happy” on Netflix, which I highly recommend, that evaluates what makes an individual happy. It argued there were many different ways people sought happiness, some tactics and life choices worked better for some than others. There’s extrinsic kind of happiness (what’s on the outside), which focused on status, wealth, items and worth. Then there was intrinsic happiness, like staying active for yourself, being a part of community, helping others, and I honestly can’t go into much detail despite having watched it twice, so I would just rather you really check it out! As quoted earlier from Time, our generation relied more on extrinsic methods of happiness, but I would argue that our generation is transforming and is becoming a bit of both instead.

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Lately, I’ve observed that my friends, and those of the lives I follow in the virtual world through social media, have all began to expand their desires. It isn’t just pictures of what outfit they wore to the bars, but instead how they spent their Saturday afternoon the next day laying on blankets on grass eating a homemade picnic. Majority of my timelines are no longer just updates of gossip or subtweets, but individuals bringing awareness to things that begin to matter to them. My newsfeeds aren’t just sharing funny cat videos, which I’ll never mind, but there’s more informative articles and videos being passed around that strike up discussions between users. Conversations of celebrity gossip begin to lead into conversations about politics, news, and more importantly, the world.

Documentaries on Netflix become more appealing, and feeling like a kid again eating up all the information like we used to from Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel is fun again. More people around me have become more humble, by learning about other cultures, and the unfortunate reality of the harsh world we live in.

I think it’s coincidentally happening because we’re finishing school, and trying to figure out where we’re going to see ourselves for the rest of our lives. We want others who see us, because of this ever changing world of social virtual interaction, to know we won’t remain in a bubble but will make the most out of ourselves; physically and mentally. I used to think this was a bad thing, posting the images and adventures just for the sake of a like and giving off the appearance that one’s life is perfect based on an album and status update, but now I’ve seen that showing others what you’re up to can be contagious in a marvelous way.

I’m jealous that you were able to cook that meal tonight, I’m going to learn how to make it myself. Wow, you got to take that beautiful shot on top of a canyon that I’d only dream of visiting one day myself, and sure enough I most definitely will now. Oh, I never thought that kind of opinion on this certain subject of matter before, I’m pretty grateful I get to have a whole new perspective on an issue! We aren’t as selfish as described, we want others to take in everything we’re doing because we think it’s wonderful, and sharing that bit of wonderful to others gives us a type of satisfaction that is hard to describe to any other generation that didn’t grow up that way.

Fortunately, half of our generation lucked out and did get to experience childhood and middle school without feeling as if “if a photo wasn’t taken did it even happen?” kind of memories. We know how to interact with our friends without having to have the TV on, or our faces planted into our phones, because we used to do it. We know how important writing and self-expression was, because notes to our best friends and crushes were how we really showed who we truly were to them. We would know how to survive a phone apocalypse where every device died and couldn’t turn back for a full week.

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People give this generation a lot of heat for being sucked into their phones, which I find myself annoying of course to a degree, but at the same time we have the ability to be more informed at a young age and becoming aware of the world around us that expands are growing hearts to reach. We should take full advantage of that! News is available to us in less than 140 characters, there are no excuses to not be informed anymore.

As we age, we do slowly begin to realize there are moments that are worth more than what is happening in our tiny devices. There are experiences we can’t capture, and having them all to ourselves and the people we shared them with become more meaningful. We are becoming the generation of “I want to be heard,” because more and more I see my generation sharing their thoughts without fear of constructive commentary and what others think. All in all, I am really grateful for our transforming adventurous, self-giving, informative, and creative souls we are becoming. I hope the trend doesn’t end here, but only continue to flourish as the days, weeks, months and years under our sleeve go by. I am really looking forward to where the millenniums are going, and what we’re going to do with our future, or more, what we’re going to make it be.

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